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.)
1,787 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 25 69 0 = 69 100% 4.9
Last 6 months 180 495 1 = 494 99% 4.9
Last 12 months 353 940 1 = 939 100% 4.8
All 1,787 4,412 72 = 4,340 98% 4.7
1,787 Reviews
Displaying 1 - 10
Sort by: Date Attended Gender Age Where From Group Type
Rating: 5
Best Day Ever!
Sat, Jan 2  12:30 PM Female 20-29 Local Couple on a Date
The trip was super exciting! We saw a lot of wildlife which is awesome! Our guide was fantastic, she made the experience educational in a super fun way! I highly recommend that anyone who is looking for a great way to spend a date to go whale watching with Stagnaro Charter Boats.
Rating: 5
It couldn't have been a better day for mammals!!!
Sat, Jan 2  12:30 PM Female 50-59 Domestic Tourist(s) Individual
Our trip started with a school of dolphins following the boat jumping and swimming with the boat, as we passed otters hanging out in the water. Next we came upon sea lions playing in a pool of activity. As we watched them the humpback whales began their activity that went on for more than an hour. It was amazing as we watched a kayak sit in the middle of the pool as pelicans dive bombed the scene. We saw at least 5 humpback whales during our 3 hour tour. As we headed home we encountered 100+ dolphins ascending the boat again. My daughter and I couldn't have asked for a better experience of wild life on the sea. The people on the boat were educated and accommodating as they allowed us to enjoy nature. I would recommend this everyone. I am still mesmerized as I watch the footage that I took over and over again. Go do this! It was amazing!!!!!!!
Rating: 5
great many animals real close to the boat
Sat, Jan 2  12:30 PM Male 50-59 Local Family With Children
We literally saw hundreds of dolphins swimming and jumping all around the boat and following us. Then we drifted for an hour or more right next to several (five? seven?) humpback whales. Very impressive.
Rating: 5
Great tour with 1000 dolphins
Fri, Jan 1  11:00 AM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
We had a great day. We did se humpback whales although it was out of season and the most impressing experience was to find yourself in a middle of a shoal of 1000:s of dolphins. It was bubbling everywhere around the boat of jumping dolphins, amazing. When we summarized the day the only thing we had not been able to se was a jumping humpback, but as you can understand we were very pleased.
Rating: 5
Surrounded by Hundreds of Common Dolphins
Fri, Jan 1  11:00 AM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
Of course, seeing wildlife is always somewhat a matter of luck, and we were blessed to have a particularly spectacular day. The boat was surrounded by a school of hundreds of dolphins: swimming, jumping, drafting in the wake of the boat, surfacing right next to us. We got to see young dolphins swimming so close to their mothers that it was almost like dolphins with little side cars attached--so tiny! Then to top it all off, since we had "only" seen a few humpback whales (humpbacks surrounded by swimming dolphins!), the captain stopped at a kelp bed where we got to see two mother sea otters with pups on their chests. We had a wonderful naturalist on board who answered all of our questions, even showing us samples of baleen and krill. All and all, it was a well-run tour with thoughtful staff doing their best to make the tour a success.
Rating: 5
Fri, Jan 1  11:00 AM Female 60-69 Local Family With Children
My son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons (7 yrs; and 7 months) joined me on this incredible trip. We saw 3 whales (humpback) and hundreds (they estimated 700) common dolphins plus sea otters, pelicans and seals. The dolphin experience was truly phenomenal - imagine being in a boat traveling in the middle of 700 dolphin surround you racing, and jumping, and speeding alongside. The crew members were gracious and informative hosts. The whole experience from booking to checking in to having this wonderful time is something I look forward to repeating.
Rating: 4
very good experience, seeing many whales, dolphins
Fri, Jan 1  11:00 AM Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified Unspecified
All good things. Nice and friendly crews. Safety concious. Kids friendly. Food is good. The only minor issue is that the boat is not large.
Rating: 5
Whales watching from Santa Cruz
Thu, Dec 31, 15  11:00 AM Unspecified 30-39 International Tourist(s) Family With Children
Fantastic day trip!
Rating: 5
Great! Definitely recommend!
Thu, Dec 31, 15  11:00 AM Female Under 20 International Tourist(s) Unspecified
The whale watching trip was an amazing experience. Especially with Maureen as the onboard expert!
Rating: 5
Amazing experience
Thu, Dec 31, 15  11:00 AM Female 40-49 Local Family With Children
We loved the trip. We saw whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions and lots of seagulls and pelicans. We plan to come back next year!
1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 179
Displaying 1 - 10 of 1,787
Ratings and Reviews for:
What whale and dolphin sightings have you seen lately?
1/18/16 There are lots of grey whales migrating southbound along the Monterey Bay shoreline; large pods of dolphins and this week Orcas (killer whales) were also spotted in the bay. This is a good time for to see ocean birds, too, such as albatross, shearwaters, cormorants, brandts, loons and more!
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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