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, 1718 Brommer Street. Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA) (Exact meeting location details will be provided immediately upon purchase of tickets.)
1,725 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 173 466 1 = 465 99% 4.8
Last 6 months 247 660 1 = 659 100% 4.8
Last 12 months 338 901 1 = 900 100% 4.8
All 1,725 4,240 72 = 4,168 98% 4.7
1,725 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 4
Lots of whales!
Sun, Oct 4  12:00 PM Male 50-59 Local Family With Children
Pros: Lots of whales, many close to the boat, spouting, diving, and slapping their tails on the water. Very friendly staff. My teenage children loved the hamburgers in the snack bar.

Cons: Boat too crowded, only one bathroom for over 50 people, not enough seating.
Rating: 5
Sat, Oct 3  12:00 PM Female 50-59 Local Group of Friends
I've been on one other Whale watching tour in Ventura and this experience more than topped that experience!. The crew was friendly and created a really fun and warm experience. We were able to view a pod of more than 125 common dolphins and then a pod of humpback whales that numbered in the 20's. We were completely blown away!! I would recommend this trip to everyone. Those who suffer from motion sickness should take extra measures so as not to dampen the trip for themselves.
Rating: 5
Wonderful Adventure for All
Sat, Oct 3  12:00 PM Female 50-59 Local Family With Children
Staff and guide were very friendly accommodating and welcoming. Very informative and the children were always put first for the best learning and visual experience possible.

Thank you all for a memory I'm sure we will all never forget. Definitely a repeat trip next year or sooner.

Best regards,

The Davi Family
Rating: 5
Had a fantastic time
Sat, Oct 3  12:00 PM Female 40-49 Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
My husband and our two adult daughters really enjoyed this trip. We saw over a 100 dolphins swimming, several humpback whales, and a few harbor seals. The crew and naturalist were wonderful highly skilled and informative. We felt safe at all times and just had a wonderful time. I would highly recommend this trip for anyone who wants to see the wildlife in Monteray bay. One caution I would give is that if you suffer motion sickness or sea sickness you might want to take something for this as we did witness several people who were ill. The seas were choppy that day.
Rating: 5
Well Organized, awesome crew and LOTS of whales
Sat, Oct 3  12:00 PM Female 60-69 Combination Family Without Children
This has been my 3rd whale watching trip and it always gets better. My cousin from Florida was visiting and the two things he wanted to see in California was bears and whales. Yosemite produced no bears. This whale watching exceeded our expectations and we were both very happy. It was easy to purchase online the tickets, with good directions. The crew was cleaning up from a morning fishing trip and still got us on-board on time. They were professional, friendly, organized and educational. To top it off, we also saw a huge pod of dolphins of over 200 which were very fun to watch. I'm already planning on taking my grand kids next year with my daughter. thank you for the most awesome experience. We are so lucky to live on this Bay and Ocean
Rating: 5
Worth every Penny
Fri, Oct 2  11:00 AM Male 60-69 Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
This was the highlight of our trip to California! They were very accommodating with my children with special needs. The crew spent time with all the passengers and were very knowledgable. And did we ever see whales! Seeing a pod of 20-30 whales just 20-50 yards off the side of the boat is a once in a lifetime experience. Life change. I will definately make this trip again and again!
Rating: 5
Whales gallore
Fri, Oct 2  11:00 AM Male 60-69 Domestic Tourist(s) Couple on a Date
Impressed that Stagnaro employs a marine naturalist on board to educate and answer questions. She was awesome., and so knowledgeable. Crew was fantastic!
Rating: 5
What a show!
Fri, Oct 2  11:00 AM Unspecified Unspecified Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
This was the best whale watching trip I have ever experienced. The crew and boat were top notch. The marine life put on an amazing show - from dozens of humpback whales to hundreds of Dolphins, it was a show we will never forget. The crew were very adept at searching out the whale activity and sharing their knowledge about the marine life.
Rating: 5
Amazing experience!
Fri, Oct 2  11:00 AM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
We saw sooo many whales, and at such short distances too. Amazing creatures. Plus a whole lot of sea lions and then at the very end, dolphins swimming with the boat! Such a fun, powerful experience. The crew was great and the captain really knew what he was doing.
Rating: 5
Wed, Sep 30  11:00 AM Male 70+ Local Couple on a Date
Wonderful trip. Nice boat. Great crew including a naturalist. Good value. Saw whales breaching and lunge feeding. My second trip this year; would go again.
1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 173
Displaying 1 - 10 of 1,725
Ratings and Reviews for:
What whale and dolphin sightings have you seen lately?
Saturday 10/3/15 Ongoing, fabulous views of humpback whales in Monterey Bay! 10-15 whales today. Close breaches! Close-by pec slaps and tail slaps. Active lunge feeding in groups of 6-15 animals. ---------------------------------------------------------- Friday 10/2/15 Many whales! We had some close “horizontal” lunge feeding about 20 yards from the boat, the humpback whale showed its pectoral fin then lunged sideways in a way we were able to see its eye! Later we had about 20 whales surface lunge feeding at the same time, and numerous common dolphins. -------------------------- Wednesday 9/30/15 Great trip! About 10-20 humpback whales on our Monterey whale watching trip…Big open lunge feeding near the boat.
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 1718 Brommer Street, 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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