Hornblower Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures in San Diego, CA

Hornblower Cruises & Events970 North Harbor DriveSan Diego, CA 92101
View on Map

Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures is not currently available.

Check out our other great San Diego Things to Do.


Come aboard for an unforgettable experience and learn from trained naturalists called “Whalers” about marine mammals, San Diego Bay and Hornblower’s local initiatives created to reduce our environmental impact. Hornblower whale watching ships offer comfortable seating indoors and outdoors, and refreshments.

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our San Diego Travel Experts
  • Summer whale watching tours available into September.
  • View the famous Blue Whales, sea lions and dolphins.
  • Certified naturalists narrate tour.
  • Sails rain or shine with U.S. Coast Guard approval.
  • Casual attire required.
  • Wear a light jacket.
  • Have been operating for over 30 years.
  • Boarding time is 30-minutes prior to departure.
  • Tour duration: approx. 3.5 hrs.


from Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures
If you love whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea birds, hop on board for a breathtaking experience on the open ocean. We’ll speed out to sea on one of our large, comfortable yachts and pass barking sea lions and pods of leaping dolphins as we search for the legendary blue whales. As we make our 4-hour tour, we’ll be treated to a live narration by our experienced captain and our on-board naturalist (from the San Diego Natural History Museum). You’ll stay cozy and comfortable with both indoor and outdoor seating and a snack bar featuring hot food, a full bar, and souvenirs.

4-hour Whale & Dolphin Watching excursion in San Diego
Opportunity to spot whales, sea lions, dolphins and harbor seals
An exclusive look at local environmental efforts
Professional live narration on marine life from our expert captains and volunteer naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
Snack bars featuring hot food, full bar and souvenirs
Climate-controlled indoor seating
Views of famous San Diego landmarks


NOTE: The whale watching vessel cruises in the open ocean. Our yacht is the most comfortable yacht in San Diego, due to stabilizers that greatly reduce the yacht's motion. Still, if seasickness is a concern, getting fresh air on the sun deck or taking over-the-counter anti-seasickness medicine prior to your cruise might help.

No outside food or beverage is allowed onboard the yacht. For your convenience, we have a fully stocked snack bar and full beverage bar available to purchase on board.

Tripster Customer Reviews

7 Reviews
Anna Kaminska
Issaquah, WA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Wonderful experience"
March 2015
The crew was very friendly and experienced. We could to see plenty of dolphins and two Humpback whales. It was a breathtaking moment to be able to see these huge creatures very close to the boat.
Read More
Tip: It is advised to take worm clothes. The wind could be very cold.

Was this review helpful? Yes

Cathy lennon
Phoenix, AZ
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"loved it"
March 2015
It was just perfect. Lots of whales and dolphins. Perfect trip
Read More
Tip: it can be chilly out on the water.

Was this review helpful? Yes

Emily Armstrong
Ivins, UT
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Whale Watching"
March 2015
Wonderful Experience! We came from Utah and I brought my three kids. We had a wonderful experience and saw whales, dolphins and sea lions. An experience we will never forget. We plan on incorporating this experience again into our San Diego trip next year! Definitely a must when in San Diego! I grew up in Carlsbad and never went whale watching. This was a wonderful experience for my family!
Read More
Tip: Bring warm clothes!

Was this review helpful? Yes

Everett James
Peoria, AZ
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Whale watching Tour 2015"
March 2015
We waited 10 years to take this Whale watching Tour! We figured what better time to take it then to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. The tour was wonderful, and we saw five whales. We would recommend this tour to our friends and family.
Read More
Tip: Be sure to dress warm, and sit by a speaker so you can hear the captain.

Was this review helpful? Yes

Stephen Campbell
Upland, CA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"whale watching with the Navy"
February 2015
We had a great experience, following 7 gray whales to the Mexican border. A Navy task group was returning to port on the same afternoon, so we also saw a parade of naval vessels.
Read More
Tip: Weather was perfect

Was this review helpful? Yes

Denette Hill
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Whale Watching"
January 2015
we saw some whales but because we were so far away from them you could not really tell what you were looking at. The ship also had a sewer problem and the smell was terrible.
Read More
Tip: you do not get a close look at the whales. the ship is required to stay 100 yards away.

Was this review helpful? Yes

cathy mayer
Escondido, CA
1 Review
Verified Traveler
"Whaling with Family"
January 2015
Took my family whaling for my sisters birthday.
Was a wonderful and relaxing adventure.
Read More
Tip: Dress warm and in layers, also good idea to bring a pair of binoculars.

Was this review helpful? Yes

TripAdvisor Reviews
TripAdvisor user image
Fdrl L
Emory, Texas
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed September 18, 2019 NEW
Educational and informative. We took the 2 hour tour, we saw the seals and the monument on the first hour and the second hour the ships and Coronado island highlights. The captain was pleasant and informative
Read More
TripAdvisor user image
Michael O
Scottsdale, Arizona
"Nice dinner cruise on the Inspriation, their large newish vessel"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed September 16, 2019 NEW
San Diego Bay is beautiful and this is a great way to see it at night. Get a window table for your dinner. Go up on the large top deck to enjoy the view. Dance the DJ later in the cruise. Everyone on board was having a good time.
Read More
TripAdvisor user image
Pueblo, Colorado
"Great Dinner and Whale Watching Cruise"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed September 09, 2019 NEW
We did a dinner cruise on Christmas and a whale watching cruise a few days before. The dinner cruise was super fun and the food was delicious. The whale watching cruise would have been a lot funner if the water wasn't so choppy (lots of people got sick), but that was not the companies fault. We even got to see a little whale
Read More
TripAdvisor user image
Fayetteville, AR
"Two Hour Harbor Cruise afternoon-no Sea Lion Adventure"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed September 07, 2019 NEW
August 31st, I was in the area visiting and was very excited about this cruise. The cruise itself was wonderful and the captain who was our tour commentator was very engaging and informative. I would recommend the two hour cruise because the first hour you sail up one side of the bay and then return to the dock after 1 hour to release the 1 hour cruise people and board the next 1 hour cruise people. Then the 2nd hour, we went down the other side of the bay under the Coronado Bridge and learned so much history on all the ships there. Pleasant and relaxing and informative. Did not partake of any food, just a couple of sodas. Felt very safe and the staff was friendly and welcoming. Now getting to the cruise was not pleasant. I booked on the phone and was sent an email telling us the address and it said Pier 2. It had a google map which showed the location away from the Midland Ship Museum some distance. That was my focus since the morning was spent at Midway. Even my own google maps on my phone between the address of Midway and the address for Hornblower showed the location away from the Midway. We had seen two large Hornblower ships docked coming down Harbor Drive towards Midway. It is hard to see addresses on Harbor drive on the wharf side and even harder to see Pier numbers. So our mistake, we assumed the two ships we saw was the place to go. So after Midway, we rushed down the crowded sidewalk in the noon heat to that location, only to be told by a crew member that location was the evening cruise location and to go back to Pier 1, a different pier than we were told in the email. Again we rushed back in the heat afraid we were going to miss the cruise because it took 15 minutes to get there. There was something special going on with lots of booths, people, music on the drive. Still not seeing Pier numbers and not trusting Google maps, we finally arrived, literally next door to the Midway parking. Google maps was misleading. It did not show this address was right next to Midway. Their map on their email was misleading. It also did not show this location was right next to Midway. Never did see any Pier numbers so don't know whether we were at Pier 1 or 2. Did see a pier called Broadway. All they had at the street was a small flip board sign about 3 feet tall saying Hornblower. The ticket office was behind either booths that were set up or another building. We would have never seen this little sign from the street as we were focused on finding parking when we first arrived. When we left Midway, we were on the sidewalk and not the street. We did make the cruise and it was wonderful. I would suggest that they need to clarify in their email that they have TWO locations and that this cruise is right next door to the Midway Ship Museum instead of relying on their Google Map attachment. We arrived exhausted, sweat soaked and spent the first hour indoors in air conditioning, but could see out the large windows and could hear the audio just fine. The 2nd hour we spent up on top deck next to the railing and it was also pleasant and relaxing. I would recommend this cruise, just please for out of towners, please clarify your location better in your email. Google Maps cannot be trusted.
Read More
TripAdvisor user image
david p
Falkirk, United Kingdom
"Patriot jet boat"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed August 27, 2019 NEW
This is a $32 35 minute blast around San Diego bay, what a blast, the guys who run this tour make it, they provide ponchos if you don’t want to get wet,but what’s the point of that, the boat is very powerful and does sharp stops and turns, you also get great views around the bay, as well as a good time. Would definitely recommend, and good value for money, you also get the chance to buy a photo they take before you board. Top tip sit nearer the front to stay reasonably dry, good luck.
Read More
Star Map Pin Icon
Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures is located at Hornblower Cruises & Events970 North Harbor DriveSan Diego, CA 92101
Attraction Map Pin IconAttractions Hotel Map Pin IconHotels & Lodging

Frequently Asked Questions about Summer Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventures

If one or more people in my party are not able to make it or we miss the cruise departure time will we receive a refund?
No. Once payment is received cruises are non-refundable. With a 48-hour or better notice we will be happy to reschedule your cruise date or issue a gift certificate for the amount paid. Cruises are non- refundable and non-transferable within 48 hours of your cruise. We do not compensate for no-shows or late arrivals.

Is gratuity included?
A service charge is collected at the time of reservation, related to the cruise and the service included in the ticket. If you wish to purchase additional beverages or food enhancements onboard, we recommend you leave a gratuity onboard based on the quality of service provided to you by your server.
What happens if it rains or snow?
Hornblower sails rain or shine. In the case of severe weather conditions or upon the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard, we will remain dockside, but provide the full dining service.

What happens if I do not see whales?
If some type of whale is not sighted on your whale watching cruise, you will receive a pass good to return for a Whale Watching Cruise or 1 or 2 Hour Harbor Cruise from Hornblower San Diego.

Are there any age restrictions on your cruises?
There are no age restrictions for most of our cruises. All minors require adult supervision. Please call with questions about any of our special event cruises, as minors are not restricted, but the cruise may not be appropriate for all age groups.
Do you offer any children discounts?
Children under 4 are complimentary.

What is the dress attire for the cruises?
Casual attire, such as shorts and t-shirts are appropriate. We recommend bringing along a light jacket or wrap as it may get breezy on board, especially for those cruises that occur out on the open ocean.
What time do I board the ship?
Boarding time is usually 30 minutes prior to departure for all cruises. Please check your boarding time when making your reservation.

Is smoking allowed?
Smoking is allowed on the outside decks only with the exception of Harbor Tours and Whale Watching Cruises. Please dispose of all refuse in proper receptacles. Do not throw anything into the water. Please help us keep our harbors clean.
Can we meet the Captain and visit the pilot house?
Yes. Guests are welcome to come and meet the Captain and the First Officer. However, for safety and security reasons, we ask that you check with our staff onboard before visiting the pilot house. We want to ensure that all passengers and crew are kept safe and that the captain is not distracted while performing essential duties.

Are you regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard?
Our vessels are all subject to inspections by the U.S. Coast Guards and our crew are all properly licensed. We also follow Marsec security guidelines. Should the Marsec security level be elevated, we may opt to increase security measures onboard our vessels to insure everyone’s safety. The U.S. Coast Guard requires all passengers over 18 years of age to have valid photo identification. Please make sure to have your photo ID available at boarding.

Are life preservers on board?
Each vessel is 100% Coast Guard certified with life preservers and all required lifesaving equipment, including child life vests.
Is the ship handicapped accessible?
Hornblower does have accessible yachts in the fleet. However, not all yachts and decks are accessible. Please call 888-467-6256 to ensure handicap accessibility for the date you are planning to cruise.
Will I get seasick?
The vast majority of our guests experience no discomfort at all as we do not leave the calm waters of the harbor. If you tend to have a problem with motion sickness, you may experience seasickness. If you are sailing on one of our whale watching cruises, we do go out into the open ocean and as a result, the chance of getting seasick increases. For these cruises, we recommend that if you are prone to motion sickness that you take advantage of a number of preventative measures that are available to you.

Where are you located?
In San Diego, we have three main locations.  Please check your confirmation to determine which is the correct location for your event. 
  • Our main ticket booth, is located at 970 N. Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Our secondary ticket booth is located at Grape Street Pier at 1800 N. Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Our offices and event space are located at The Abbey at 2825 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103

Does Hornblower validate parking?
We do not validate for parking. Parking fees are typically $10.