whale in the Pacific Ocean in Sonoma County
Whale in the Pacific Ocean on the Sonoma Coast

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 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.

A person looks off into the ocean at Bodega Head, Sonoma Coast State Park
Bodega Head

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.

A group of people look through binoculars for whales along the Sonoma coast line at Gualala Point Regional Park
Gualala Point Regional Park

And consider taking a whale-watch boat trip with an experienced company such as Bodega Bay Sport Fishing CenterFish On ChartersMiss Anita Fishing Charters, or North Bay Charters.



I was completely enchanted!

A post shared by Barbara Jean Ullman (@barbara_jean_ullman) on

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

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

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.