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.)
1,764 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 125 343 0 = 343 100% 4.9
Last 6 months 247 673 1 = 672 100% 4.9
Last 12 months 345 920 1 = 919 100% 4.8
All 1,764 4,349 72 = 4,277 98% 4.7
1,764 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 5
Check off on the bucket list
Sat, Nov 21  12:00 PM Female 30-39 Local Group of Friends
This was the most amazing experience! I am a Bay Area native and have always wanted to do this. It was a perfect day with tons of whales and dolphins! The staff was great. Very informative and friendly. Highly recommend!
Rating: 5
whale watch
Sat, Nov 14  12:00 PM Unspecified 50-59 Domestic Tourist(s) Group of Friends
the captain and crew did a great job finding whales and were very knowledgeable about everything
Rating: 5
What a great trip!
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Male 50-59 Domestic Tourist(s) Family With Children
Nice clean boat, with competent and knowledgeable crew. Lots of drinks and snacks available on board. Ample opportunity to discuss wildlife with crew. Was able to see close up killer whales, dolphins, sun fish, hump back whales. Lovely sunny November day - but remember to wrap up warmly. Fantastic afternoon without a dull moment. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5
Perfect Whale Watching Experience!
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Female 20-29 International Tourist(s) Group of Friends
My husband and I live locally and had 2 friends visiting from Germany! They had their heart set on whale watching so after some brief research we purchased our tickets for Stagnaro Charters for the next days trip. The crew and captain were amazing! We saw an amazing pod of Orcas, a couple hundred dolphins swam by us and we saw a number or Humpback whales. It was hands down the best experience ever and the crew was extremely friendly and knowledgable throughout the trip. I highly recommend Stagnaro they ensure you have an amazing trip and will put in the work to find the whales for you whenever possible. Thank you for an unbelievable trip!
Rating: 5
Great experience!
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Male 30-39 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
We saw Orca pods, Humpbacks, and Dolphins, with one sighting of either a Blue or Humbpack, captain and the naturalist were unable to identify. The naturalist (I forgot her name) was wonderful, willing to answer all questions and was quite informative. All staff were equally helpful and accommodating. We really had a great experience, and it was breathtaking watching the Orca pod swim less than 50 yards from our boat.
Rating: 5
Great crew. Perfect day on the ocean
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Male 40-49 Domestic Tourist(s) Couple on a Date
Great crew. Perfect day on the ocean
Rating: 5
Time of my life!
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Female 30-39 Domestic Tourist(s) Family Without Children
This was one of the best days I've ever had! The trip far exceeded our expectations. The crew was knowledgeable and very nice. We upgraded to the captain's deck and are so glad that we did. The day was full of wildlife, including 10-15 orcas, several humpbacks, hundreds of dolphins a sun fish and what the captain thought may have been a blue whale. I didn't know which direction to point my camera. This made for a fantastic anniversary for my husband and I. I fear that this may have spoiled is for any future whale watching trips!
Rating: 5
Best Experience of this Kind Ever!
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Female 50-59 Local Group of Friends
Wonderful and accommodating staff. Fabulous mammals all around us! Worth every penny and every minute. Thank you!
Rating: 5
Unforgettable Experience!
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Female 20-29 Domestic Tourist(s) Couple on a Date
My boyfriend and I went on this as part of his birthday present and it was awesome! We were fortunate enough to see, killer whales, dolphins, and humpback whales! The staff was very kind and knowledgable about the different sea life we were seeing and there was even food aboard! I do recommend people take some dramamine before hand because the ride was a little choppy, and being out on choppy water like for 3+ hours can make you feel sick. Overall I had a great experience that I will never forget!
Rating: 5
Terrific experience
Sat, Nov 7  12:00 PM Male 60-69 Combination Family With Children
It is rare to find an experience you can call perfect, but we found one here. Wildlife viewing can be tricky, but our trip, due in no small part to the crew's experience and expertise, provided plenty to see. We found a large pod of Orcas, humpback whales surface feeding, and literally hundreds of dolfins surrounding our boat. The crew took time personally interacting with all of us on board with particular attention to kids. Their enthusiasm for their work is obvious. They made sure we had time to enjoy Monterey Bay's marine life, and never rushed to keep to a schedule. They even saw to it that the boat was properly positioned so that our views were never obscured by glare off the sea. The boat, Velocity, is comfortable and well-maintained. We were completely satisfied with the charter and will do it again.
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Displaying 1 - 10 of 1,764
Ratings and Reviews for:
What whale and dolphin sightings have you seen lately?
Tuesday 11/24 Today another good show - We saw humpback whales and dolphins both - Singing in the rain! November 20-22: On all recent trips we've had scattered humpback whales not too far out of Santa Cruz. Whales are feeding and showing off a few good breaches, pec slapping. On Friday a nursery pod of common dolphins, bow riding, breaching, chirping. Sea otters lounging in the kelp.
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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