Taking a whale watching cruise in San Diego with kids

whale watching
Whale migration is enjoyable for kids of ALL ages.

A few months ago, we visited San Diego during the annual whale migration months and joined Hornblower for their 3.5 hour whale watching cruise.

Ideally, hubby would have been aboard, but he was working and I am incapable of passing by opportunities, so off I went with my 3 little ladies (ages 6, 5 and 1) for a wonderful morning of wildlife viewing. Here’s what we discovered:

Whale watching in San Diego with kids

The volunteer naturalists on board from the San Diego Natural History Museum made this whale watching cruise a great educational experience for the kids. Also, a good-hearted volunteer recognized my less-than-advantageous adult to child ratio and lavished us with coloring pages, simple art projects, and lessons on marine life throughout the journey.

We were assertive enough to pop in and visit the captain at the helm. He kindly indulged us in a quick tour, which was a thrill for my older daughters.

whale watching with kids
On the lookout for whales with the captain.

The captain calls your attention to wildlife sightings via the speakers, so you don’t need to be regularly gazing at the water if instead you need to be, say, chasing a toddler. We were fortunate enough to see a school of over 200 common dolphins, a smaller school of bottlenose  dolphins, several sea lions, and a massive fin whale. The look of awe on my kids’ faces seeing these animals in their natural habitat was simply priceless.

Insider whale watching tips

The top deck had the best views, but was too anxiety provoking for me to supervise an active toddler and two kids. We spent most of our time in the enclosed 1st and 2nd decks. We were fortunate that the cruise was at half capacity, so we had lots of room.

Shell out the $10 for the “First mate package” for the kids at the ticket booth. The included binoculars, stickers, kiddie drinks and bag are well worth the money. Be sure to bring extra coats and hats as it gets quite windy at sea. Bio bands are sold on board for the queasy among us.

Disclosure: Hornblower provided us with complimentary press passes for the cruise. They did not request that I express any particular point of view, and all opinions are my own.


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