The annual north-to-south gray whale migration along Sonoma County’s coast peaks during the winter months, with good opportunities for whale-spotting.
That means the time has come, once again, to grab your binoculars, pile on layered clothing, and set out on a search. You’ll be looking for whales spouting water through blowholes, displaying their flukes (tails) as they dive in search of the tiny shrimp they eat (krill), or just hanging out.
One of the top whale-watching spots in the county is Bodega Head. About four miles long and one mile wide, this small peninsula juts well out into the ocean. Its placement not only helps to shelter Bodega Bay, but also attracts binocular- and camera-toting observers who want to get closer to cetaceans cruising by.
There’s something about seeing one of these beautiful and massive creatures gliding through the ocean that brings out a sense of wonder in spectators. You’ll see tiny tots and regal elders alike shouting with excitement: “Look, a whale!” or “It’s spouting!” People seem willing to wait endlessly to catch even a far-off glimpse of a whale, and the sight of one close to shore can make the day.
On weekends from January through Mother’s Day, volunteers from the Whale Watch Public Education Program are at Bodega Head to answer questions and share their knowledge of whales and migration.
Bodega Head is part of the miles-long Sonoma Coast State Park, where many beaches offer tidal pools, hiking trails, and awesome views. All the park’s beaches are great destinations for a picnic, too; you can relax on the sand, enjoying lunch and the day, while keeping an eye out for traveling cetaceans. Download a map and/or brochure of Sonoma Coast State Park.
Other wonderful locations to whale watch include Gualala Point Regional Park, the public access trails at The Sea Ranch, Stillwater Regional Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park, Kruse Rhododendron State Nature Preserve, and Salt Point State Park.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.