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.)
1,643 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 122 333 0 = 333 100% 4.9
Last 6 months 199 529 0 = 529 100% 4.8
Last 12 months 295 779 0 = 779 100% 4.8
All 1,643 4,021 71 = 3,950 98% 4.7
1,643 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 5
Orcas in Monterey Bay
Fri, Aug 28  12:00 PM Male 60-69 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
Great crew and awesome experience.
Rating: 5
must see
Thu, Aug 27  11:00 AM Male 20-29 International Tourist(s) Unspecified
awesome experience, must see!
Rating: 5
Wed, Aug 26  12:00 PM Male 20-29 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
This was a great trip, we got a chance to view all kinds of animals and the naturalist on board was great, she identified the animals we were seeing as well as gave us interesting facts about them.

we saw tons of dolphins (at least 100), there were several whales, otters, sea lions, and jelly fish.

I would recommend this tour to anybody wanting a great viewing experience.
Rating: 5
Amazing crew, amazing experience! SO worth it!
Wed, Aug 26  12:00 PM Female 20-29 Combination Family Without Children
WOW. First, the captain, deckhand, and naturalist were all informative, courteous, considerate, funny, and entertaining. The naturalist made sure to speak to everybody on the ship individually, and really provided a lot fo great information to us all. The wildlife that we saw was AMAZING! Literally hundreds of dolphins and dozens of whales. We even saw jellyfish, a sunfish, otters, and sea lions. The captain knew right where to go, and from the first sighting after entering the outer bay, we were constantly seeing whales and other wildlife! In addition, they were very considerate of the animals, and even though we got REALLY close views, they never encroached on their space, and I never felt as though we were bothering the whales. They even turned aroudn on our way back in and fished my mother in law's hat out of the ocean. They even made that entertaining, and the whole boat clapped! I would really recommend thsi trip to anyone. I am 22, and this is by far one of the the coolest experiences of my life. I was not disappointed, and it was worth every dollar we spent. Do yourself a favour, and take this tour! I will definitely be back again.
Rating: 5
Beautiful day on the bay
Wed, Aug 26  12:00 PM Female 50-59 Local Family Without Children
Crew and staff were great, saw many dolphins and whales, generally a beautiful day on the bay
Rating: 5
Fantastic show
Tue, Aug 25  11:00 AM Female 60-69 Local Group of Friends
I know we had a lucky day, but I've never seen so many whales (humpback) being this active. I brought a couple of visiting friends and it was a high point
Rating: 5
Amazing Experience
Tue, Aug 25  11:00 AM Male 50-59 Local Couple on a Date
Something my wife and I will remember forever. Such beautiful, graceful animals. Meaghan did a fantastic job and was very engaging with us all and shared a lot of information I did not know before. The captain put us in the perfect spot to see the show and backed off when the whales got close to us as they fed. Thank you all, it was a truly magical experience and a fantastic day on the Bay. We were in a pod of 15 to 20 whales who were practicing "lunge feeding" where several whales would herd fish and then rise out of the water, mouths open to basically inhale the bait fish, sometimes up to seven at a time! In addition there were hundreds of dolphins about and several seals as well as hundreds and hundreds of birds. We will definitely do this again with Stagnaros.
Rating: 5
Absolutely unbelievable!
Mon, Aug 24  10:00 AM Female 40-49 Domestic Tourist(s) Unspecified
We saw tons of whales, dolphins and seals. It was simply amazing. Crew was great and Maureen was a great host! Her knowledge and enthusiasm made it even more fun! Highly recommend this watch!
Rating: 5
We had such a great time
Sun, Aug 23  12:00 PM Female 30-39 Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
It was an amazing experience and I recommended all my friends already. The crew was very, very friendly and had a very good knowledge and explained a lot. Some of friends followed my recommendation and took the tour already and where as happy as we were. It's one of the things to do if you are around!
Rating: 5
Ambition fulfilled
Sun, Aug 23  12:00 PM Female 40-49 International Tourist(s) Family With Children
Had the best day EVER!! Saw humpback whales in every direction, Dolphins by the dozen, and sea lions to add to the mix!!! Upgraded to captains deck which included vouchers for food and drink. Crew were great, thoroughly recommend, I would go again tomorrow!
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 1,643
Ratings and Reviews for:
What whale and dolphin sightings have you seen lately?
Whale Watching Tuesday, Aug 18 -- So much surface lunging! Sea lions, common dolphins and 5 humpback whales all going crazy feeding. Anchovies were dancing on the surface! ------------------ 8/12/15 Wednesday we had calm waters, got to see 20+ humpback whales feeding with sea lions...and hundreds of common dolphins. -----------------Friday 8/14 we saw whales! Lots of humpback whales feeding over Monterey Canyon… However the wind came up pretty fast & furious and we had to move out of the area.
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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