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.)
1,469 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 38 93 0 = 93 100% 4.7
Last 6 months 88 235 0 = 235 100% 4.8
Last 12 months 274 711 3 = 708 100% 4.8
All 1,469 3,556 71 = 3,485 97% 4.6
1,469 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 5
Sat, Mar 28  12:00 PM Male 50-59 Local Family Without Children
Everything we exspected and more.Friendly crew that not only took care of everyone but had great knowledge of the Bay.A must adventure for everyone.
Rating: 5
Excellent trip. Loved Our Naturalist Jen
Fri, Mar 27  10:30 AM Male 50-59 Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
Jen was amazing and shared so much info it was great. Her knowledge was amazing and my daughter, who wants to be a marine biologist, loved every minute of the trip. Even thought it was foggy most of the trip, we saw a lot. Will definitely be back!

Rating: 5
Awesome Whale Watching Trip
Fri, Mar 27  10:30 AM Male 60-69 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
Enthusiastic crew, very knowledgeable. Got to see at least a dozen whales and lots of porpoises. Very worth while trip

Diss lick Zerve, very hard to use prefer dealing direct with Stangnaro/'s
Rating: 5
Excellent Whale watching trip
Mon, Mar 23  10:30 AM Female 40-49 Local Family Without Children
We saw at least 5 to 6 whales and 2 pods of 100 to 200 dolphin. Two whales were as close as 50 yards from the boat. The dolphins chased the boat, were so animated. It was an amazing experience. The captain and staff were excellent and knowledgeable. The captain was great at following the animals and keeping them in sight for the best views.
Rating: 5
awesome sure-handed guide through the bay
Sun, Mar 22  10:00 AM Male 50-59 Local Family With Children
Stagnaro's knows the bay. Our cruise went all over the bay in search of sea life. The stagnaro's team knows how to please its customers. Great day. Many humpback sightings which were pursued and tracked with patience and care. About 30 humpbacks, 2 gray whales, 100s of common dolphins in a pod, sea lions and one ghostly sunfish. Could not have had a better time. Thanks!
Rating: 5
Lots of marine life!
Sun, Mar 22  10:00 AM Female 40-49 Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
We had a great time! It started out as a cloudy, misty day, but as they told us on the boat, "the animals are already wet." ☺ we saw quite a few humpbackwhales
Rating: 5
Sat, Mar 21  12:00 PM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
Crew was great!
Rating: 5
Best Experience I've Ever Had
Sat, Mar 21  12:00 PM Male 50-59 Local Family With Children
I don't have time to write all I'd like to but I will summarize and say that the prices here are the most reasonable I could find, the vessel is clean and modern and comfortable, the staff were excellent and welcoming, and we saw whales and dolphins so close we could have leapt out of the boat and onto their backs. Unparalleled.

My one advice would be to do your research about seasons and sightings and plan your trip on a day you will most likely see them. The boat/staff can't be held accountable for if they'll find whales or not but if you know the timing is right and that they're out there, you'll probably have a better experience then you will "off season" when there's less likelihood to encounter whales.
Rating: 5
absolutely wonderful
Sat, Mar 21  12:00 PM Female 60-69 Unspecified Family Without Children
Beautiful spring day. We rode out for miles before we saw anything. Captain cut the engine to wait and see what might happen and not 100 feet away, two whales jumped straight out toward the sky. Was the most beautiful thing i'd ever seen. Well informed and friendly staff. Cant wait to go again. Lots of whales to see.
Rating: 3
Wed, Mar 18  10:30 AM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
Our trip was canceled due to low turn-out.

Please have my monew refunded to my credit card.

Thank you,

1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 147
Displaying 1 - 10 of 1,469
Ratings and Reviews for:
What whale and dolphin sightings have you seen lately?
Saturday, March 21, 2015: Breaching humpback whales! We saw a total of 8 humpbacks on the Saturday trip, plus a small group of common dolphins. Sunday, March 22, 2015: Counted 12 humpback whales doing every kind of behavior, and 200 common dolphins. Monday, March 23, 2015: Five gray whales feeding – a rare sight! The gray whales took a migration break to feed in about 35 feet of water just off Santa Cruz, on the north side of Monterey Bay. Also had some close “drive-bys” from the gray whales today. We also saw 200 common dolphins – the dolphins were breaching and bow-riding and having a great time! ...... 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 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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