A whale jumps out of the water along the Sonoma Coast
Sonoma Coast State Park

Whale Watching Along the Sonoma Coast

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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 makes it the perfect time 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. 

Coast at Salt Point State Park
Salt Point State Park

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 17-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 Sonoma Coast State Park map or brochure

Other wonderful locations to whale watch include Gualala Point Regional Park, the six public access trails at The Sea Ranch, Stillwater Cove Regional Park, Fort Ross State Historic Park, Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve, and Salt Point State Park.

Coast at Bodega Head
Bodega Head

And consider taking a whale-watch boat trip with an experienced company such as Bodega Bay Sport Fishing CenterFish On Charters, or North Bay Charters. Learn more in our article, Bodega Bay: Boat Charters & Tours.

Find more info about things to do, restaurants, hotels and lodging in Sonoma County.

See Sonoma County's safety tips for water activities here.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.