Whale Watching Trip on Monterey Bay

Stagnaro Charter Boats

Zerve Seller: Stagnaros
Activity #1050
  • See the diverse marine animals – Sea Lions, Otters, and more – that inhabit beautiful Monterey Bay during this fun, educational cruise.

  • Join us on this special cruise for a spectacular view of the Monte Foundation's annual fireworks display from our local Seacliff Beach.

  • Join us for a private charter cruise or fishing trip. Ideal for weddings, parties and other special events!

Available Dates & Times Price Duration
All times listed are Pacific time zone


Climb aboard the Velocity, our 60 foot luxury charter boat, and experience the Monterey Bay area like never before! In winter or summer, we take you to the depths of whale territory as we spot these magnificent creatures and much more!

Summer Whale & Sealife Excursion:
  • May through November: The Humpback Whales frequent the Monterey Bay as their feeding grounds.
  • Climb aboard and join us as we search the bay sanctuary for a variety of marine mammals including: Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Dolphins, Sea Otters, Sea Lions and more
Winter Whale Watching:
  • December through April: The winter is Gray Whale season. The chance of sighting the Gray Whales at this time is very high, somewhere around 90%!
  • 20,000 California Gray Whales pass through our bay waters on their annual winter migration from the cold arctic waters, to the warm lagoons of Baja Peninsula. You can get breathtaking close up views of these beautiful cetaceans. Sightings of dolphins and other marine mammals are also common. This is truly an Ocean Adventure for the whole family!
All trips are narrated, and offer fascinating insight by our knowledgeable crew. Trips can last approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on the conditions, as we try to see as much wildlife as possible!

What Is Not Included?

Food and drinks are not included in the price of the cruise. The boat has a full-service galley that has available for purchase lunch, snacks, beer, wine, and soda. Previous guests who have enjoyed food and drinks aboard our boats have found $15, cash or credit, per person to be sufficient.

You can also bring your own food and drinks on board, but no outside alcohol. Coolers longer than 20" in length are not allowed.

Meeting Location

Stagnaro's Office, 2896 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA) (Exact meeting location details will be provided immediately upon purchase of tickets.)
1,380 Reviews Rating: 4.8 4.8 out of 5.0
Verified Customer Reviews
Always from real, paying customers
# of Reviews Positive
= Overall
% Positive Average
Last 3 months 135 362 0 = 362 100% 4.8
Last 6 months 185 473 3 = 470 99% 4.7
Last 12 months 331 857 10 = 847 99% 4.8
All 1,380 3,318 71 = 3,247 97% 4.6
1,380 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 4
great service
maestr03366 Sun, Sep 28  10:00 AM Unspecified Unspecified Local Family With Children
Great service. Nice boat. good naturalist. They ran out of ginger for sea sickness - wife could have used any help, but they provided a free ginger ale. Next time I would probably take a boat from Moss landing rather than Santa Cruz for a shorter ride out and back to where the whales seem to be mostly located. This should either transfer to more whale watching time, or a shorter trip, or less time to get sea sick which happened to about everyone on board on what seemed to be the rush back to get another group.
Rating: 4
Wonderful experience for a first timer
adiochiro3 Sat, Sep 27  10:00 AM Female 50-59 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
We were very pleased with our first experience whale watching. Everything about the trip was positive and went smoothly--from telephone contact and making reservations to the actual docking and disembarking. The naturalist, Jen, was knowledgeable and delightful. The crew was personable and capable. I felt well cared for in their hands. We highly recommend Stagnaro's and will use them again on our next whale watching adventure!
Rating: 5
Great Experience
bpolka Fri, Sep 26  12:00 PM Male 40-49 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
Had a great time on the trip. The crew was very informative and we were able to see the whales in action up close. Would definitely go back and do another trip with them.
Rating: 5
Awesome Displays
whalewatchwo Sat, Sep 20  12:00 PM Female 60-69 Local Individual
Whales all around us. Breaching, fin flapping, tail tossing. There were some party-hearty whales out there Saturday. One whale breached 2 times in a row. Never saw that before. Others joined in the fun. Stagnaro's crew knows how to find the whales. If you want to really see whales, up close and personal, follow the Velocity. Best whale watching tour on the 7-seas.
Rating: 5
Just Spectacular!!!
trixiepd Sat, Sep 20  12:00 PM Female 50-59 Domestic Tourist(s) Couple on a Date
I have been on many whale watching trips and I have to say, this was the BEST one ever!!!
Rating: 5
Amazingly Awesome !
sherrydobbin Sat, Sep 20  12:00 PM Female 60-69 Local Family With Children
For decades I have gone whale watching with Stagnaro's but this trip on Saturday 9/20 was beyond my wildest expectations! Humpback whales all around us - tail slaps, chin slaps, breeching, side displays, huge spouts of water displays. Two whales came so close to us we could look down into their blow holes! My 7 yr old granddaughter kept saying "This is a once in a lifetime sight!" We also saw a huge Moola Moola sunfish floating beside us out in the bay and a dolphin at the entrance to the harbor on our return! This is a Must See Whalewatching year! Stagnaro's crew and naturalist are very knowledgable and make the trip exciting! I have been telling anyone who will listen - Get Out There and Experience This Year's Whales!
Rating: 5
Amazing experience!
leenbeen Sun, Sep 14  12:00 PM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
The staff was really professional and knowledgeable about whales and all the other marine animals. Everyone on the boat was giddy when we'd see any sign of humpback whales. We were really lucky that we even got to see a breach, where a whale jumped out of the water with such force that there was whitewater in that spot for a good 2 minutes afterward. We also had a pod of common dolphins swim up next to the boat and surf the wake behind us. Of course, we got to see sea lions and a pack of sea otters taking a nap in kelp near the end. The whole experience was incredible, and I would highly recommend this is anyone who wants to experience nature up close. Bring your ginger or sea sickness pills in case you get nauseated.
Rating: 4
Nice long trip
kensou Sun, Sep 14  12:00 PM Male 20-29 International Tourist(s) Individual
I like the long trip out to find the whales, a few thing is that the boat doesnt go close to the whales and the whole trip should just focus on whales more instead of going to see otters. That would be better, generally we get to see a nice show put up by the whale themselves
Rating: 4
great experience
alijk02 Sun, Sep 14  12:00 PM Female 30-39 International Tourist(s) Couple on a Date
Really enjoyed our trip. The naturalist on board was really knowledgeable and made sure she spoke to everyone individually to make them welcome and to answer questions. We saw several humpbacks out in the ocean and even saw one breach really closeby. We also saw a group of dolphins who came along for the ride as well as many different sea birds and sea otters.
Rating: 5
Wonderful day!
Iewade Sun, Sep 14  12:00 PM Female 50-59 Local Family Without Children
Clean and comfortable boat. Courteous and knowledgable crew. Go early because finding parking at the dock was difficult. Saw whales, dolphins, otters, seals, and various birds!
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 1,380
Ratings and Reviews for:
What whale and dolphin sightings have you seen lately?
August 6, 2014: The last several trips have included many different awesome behaviors from multiple humpback whales, as dozens of animals continue summer feeding in Monterey Bay. In the last week we have seen breaching, tail throws, pectoral slapping and even surface lunge feeding from the animals. We have also had bow riding Dolphins and giant ocean sunfish (Mola Mola) come under the boat! Whale Watching from Santa Cruz in Monterey Bay is as good as it gets right now! ... ... ... ... Check for sightings updates at this link: http://santacruzwhalewatching.com/recent-sightings/
When do the Whale Watching Trips run?
Our trips are scheduled frequently throughout the year! Please check our calendar for upcoming events. Other marine life can also be seen on our inner bay 1 hour Scenic Cruise.
Do you guarantee that I will sees whales on the cruise?
We have a success rate of over 90% for sightings of whales and/or dolphins. Sea lions and otters are quite common in the bay. Mother nature can be elusive, but we will try our best.
How long is the trip?
Our trips may vary in length depending upon the time of year and where the whales are located. They can last between 3 and 4 hours, depending on where the animals are on a given day.
What is the best time of the year to see whales?
Anytime. We see different types of whales at different times throughout the year. Every trip is different. No two trips are alike.
Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
Advance purchase is strongly recommended, and trips often sell out quickly. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please buy your tickets well in advance. Tickets can only be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
Are children allowed?
Yes, children are welcome to attend.
Is this cruise suitable for pregnant women?
For safety reasons, this cruise is not suitable for pregnant women. If you are pregnant and would like to attend anyway, you must first consult with your doctor.
What happens if it rains?
The trip runs rain or shine, regardless of weather conditions. But don't worry. Some of our best trips have taken place in less than perfect weather, so plan your attire accordingly. In the case of severe weather, we may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in which case you will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.
Can you make special arrangements for groups?
We are able to accommodate groups of 10 or more who would like to go Whale Watching. If your group is interested in this trip, please click on the "Contact Stagnaros" link.
What types of food and beverages are served in the full-service galley?
You can purchase a variety of food and beverage items at the galley. For lunch/dinner, our selection includes cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, quesadillas, cold-cut sandwiches, chips, popcorn, and candy. Our drink selection includes soda, bottled water, beer, and wine.
I am planning on eating in the full service galley, how much money should I bring?
Approximately $15.00 should cover the cost of your lunch, as well as some wine or beer.
Can I bring my own food and/or beverages?
Yes. You can bring your own food and beverages, but outside alcohol cannot be brought onto the boat. Please limit your cooler size to less than 20 inches. Beer and wine are available for purchase in the full service galley.
Can I bring an ice chest?
A small one for your food and beverages (no alcohol!). Coolers longer than 20" in length are not allowed, so as to not deprive yourself or everyone else of space.
How close do we get to the whales?
Once spotted we must stay back and maintain a respectful distance of a minimum of 100 yards then let the whale do what the whale wants. Sometimes they will be very friendly and approach us at which time the engines are shut down.
Can I touch or swim with the whales?
Unfortunately, no. We are there to observe and learn. Besides, our waters are too cold!
Is there a bathroom on the boat?
Yes, there is a restroom on the boat.
What should I wear?
Warm layered clothing and rubber soled shoes are best. It is always much cooler on the ocean than on land, so it is better to be over dressed than under dressed. Once you become comfortable you can always peel a layer off. If rain is in the forecast, a poncho or raincoat may be necessary.
Will I get seasick?
We sure hope not. Unfortunately, this is not something we can predict. While we can't recommend you take any medications, prevention might be a good idea if you are susceptible to motion sickness.
Where does my trip end?
Your trip will end in the exact place that it starts from.
Where will we be going?
In the winter, we follow the gray whale migration routes. During the summer, the whales are active 8-10 miles off the shore.
Is the boat safe?
Absolutely. In addition to modern safety equipment (EPIRB, Life Floats, Life Jackets, etc.) our vessels are constantly maintained and inspected twice a year by the United States Coast Guard, a Division of Homeland Security.
Are there life jackets on the boat?
Yes, there are life jackets for every adult and child on board. The location of the jackets is clearly posted and verbally announced by the skipper.
Do I have to wear the life jacket?
No. You may choose to wear a life jacket if you feel you need one.
Are dogs or pets allowed on the boat?
No pets are allowed on our boat, but we may be able to allow service dogs on a case-by-case basis.
Is the boat wheelchair accessible?
Our boats are accessible to those with walkers and canes. Though we are often able to accommodate people in wheelchairs as well, our boats are not wheelchair accessible by average standards. If you are in a wheelchair, please keep in mind that steps leading to the boats prevent you from wheeling directly on board. As a result, you will need to be able to walk up the 4 stairs with help or have friends with you that will have to physically carry you from the dock, on to the boat, and back into your chair.
Where does the boat depart from?
Trips depart from the Santa Cruz West Harbor at Atlantic Avenue. HOWEVER, check-in for the trip happens at Stagnaro’s office at 2896 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz. The staff will then direct you to the boat, which is about a ten minute drive away. Don't worry - exact meeting location details and directions will be provided upon ticket purchase!
How early should I arrive to check in before my trip?
Please arrive AT LEAST 45 minutes before your trip begins. Remember to take traffic into account when making your plans, which is much heavier during the weekends and in the afternoons.
Is there shade on the boat?
Yes. Indoor seating and awnings are available if you need to get out of the sunlight.
Will there be room on the boat to stow my belongings?
There is a limited amount of space on the boat for your personal belongings. Please keep your coolers under 20 inches in length. Out of respect for your fellow passengers, please keep your personal items to a minimum.
Are gift certificates available?
Yes! Gift certificates for Stagnaro Charter Boats are great for any occasion. To purchase a gift certificate, click on the "Contact Stagnaros" link.


Refund/Rescheduling Policy

Non-refundable, cannot be rescheduled.
Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event.

Weather Policy

Activity may be cancelled due to severe weather.
The activity usually runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but the seller may cancel the activity up to an hour before the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If the seller cancels the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability) or receive credit for a future event.

Other Policies

Not suitable for pregnant women.
Pregnant women are not advised to attend due to the inherent motion of the boat and safety precautions. If you are pregnant and would like to attend anyway, you must first consult with your doctor.

Stagnaro Charter Boats

The Stagnaro family has been serving the Santa Cruz area for over a century, ever since Italian patriarch Cottardo Stagnaro settled in Santa Cruz in 1879.

This historical landmark business is still leading the way in ocean fun on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Today's fourth generation Stagnaro Charter Boats will surely make your trip fun and memorable.
Please call Zerve at
1 (800) 979-3370
to get more information or
book this activity now
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