Where to Watch Whales on the Sonoma Coast

Whale watching at Bodega Head. For this one, the waiting comes at the mercy of the whales. However, once you see just one pod travel through, the waiting is worthwhile. The peak months for whale watching are January through May. See more info at bodegabay.com (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
The peak months for whale watching are January through May.  (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Twice each year, some 20,000 gray whales pass along the California coast as they swim south to breeding lagoons on the west coast of Baja California during winter months, then back to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic’s Bering Sea in spring. The round trip for these sea giants is roughly 12,000 mile and is considered one of the longest among mammals.

Whale Watch volunteer Larry Tiller, of Healdsburg, watches the horizon for spouts from Bodega Head. (photo by Christopher Chung)
Whale Watch volunteer Larry Tiller, of Healdsburg, watches the horizon for spouts from Bodega Head. (Photo by Christopher Chung)

The peak months for whale watching are January through May. If the weather is good, whales can be seen within a few hundred yards of coastal headlands, with prime viewing locations including Bodega Bay, Bodega Head and Jenner in Sonoma County, and Mendocino Headlands State Park, Little River and Pomo Bluffs Park in Mendocino County. During spring migration, even little whales are a big deal, as the recently born calves cavort with their mothers on their way back to colder waters.

Louella Pizzuti, right, scans the horizon for migrating whales with Whale Watch volunteers Rod Palmieri, Jeremy Nichols and Larry Tiller at Bodega Head. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat, file 2013)
Louella Pizzuti, right, scans the horizon for migrating whales with Whale Watch volunteers Rod Palmieri, Jeremy Nichols and Larry Tiller at Bodega Head. (Photo by Christopher Chung)

January through Mother’s Day, volunteers from the Whale Watch Public Education Program are at Bodega Head on weekends to answer questions and share their knowledge about whales and migration.

 

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