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Welcome to Avila Beach Whale Watching.

We offer family oriented, educational boat tours and whale watching adventures upon the pristine waters of San Luis Obispo Bay, a hidden gem on the central coast of California. To our advantage we are blessed to have an abundance of wildlife here year round! Sightings of Whales, Dolphins, Porpoise, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Harbor Seals and a variety of Sea Birds are common on the whale watching trips. We also offer a 1 hour "Coastal Explorer' private trip for those that would like see all of the animals that live close to shore without the commitment of going offshore. to see whales. Please click the yellow menu icon and go to our "recent sightings" page for more information on what we are currently seeing.  We have been ranked as the best whale watching and best boat tour on the central coast of California every year for the past 12 years on Tripadvisor, Google and Yelp.  If you have any questions please call or text Capt. Mark 805-540-4667

Six passenger maximum on a 28ft power catamaran

Unlike most whale watching tours on larger boats with as many as 100 people on board, our tours are unique in that we only take 6 passengers at a time. This ensures that everyone can enjoy an unobstructed view of the whales  and other wildlife that we encounter with no crowding. We also have the advantage of being able to move quickly to a new location if we see something exciting going on. Catamarans with 2 hulls offer a much smoother ride through the waves which helps us get to the whales faster. Catamarans are also very stable which is a big help when taking pictures of the whales and other wildlife we encounter on these adventures. Personally, my favorite part of the smaller boat with only 6 passengers is that we will have the opportunity to talk about the animals as we observe them and I am available to answer questions about what we are seeing. 

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Please click the yellow menu icon to learn more about who we are and what we offer.

  • Recent whale and wildlife sightings
  • Ash scattering services
  • Reservations and our cancelation policy
  • What to wear to be comfortable and prepared 
  • Directions
  • Private tours
  • About us
  • Contact us
  • Our boat the Pacific Flyer and why she is so perfect for what we do
  • Gift certificates


Whale watching trips are $109 per person weekdays and $119 weekends. Coastal explorer (none whale watching) trips are $249 for your group of up to 6 people and private trips for any occasion are $325 per hour weekdays and $350 per hour weekends. There is a 5% service fee on all credit card transactions. All ages are welcome, please call or text us If you have questions. (805) 540-4667. 

Where is Avila Beach Whale Watching located?

Our departure dock is located very close to Avila Beach, Ca. on a quaint, historic pier known as the Harford Landing at Port San Luis. This is just 15 minutes from Pismo Beach, Ca. and 20 minutes from San Luis Obispo, Ca. If you are staying near Paso Robles, Ca. we are only 45 minutes away and in the summer 20 degrees cooler! 

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When to go whale watching?

We have very good whale watching most of the year here on the central coast of California and on average we will find whales on most of the trips. Please check the "recent sighting" page for more information on what you can expect each month and what we have been seeing currently.

  • April through early December is Humpback season:  For the Humpback whale season we offer 2 departure times each day, one at 8:30 am and another at 11:00 am. These trips are 2 hours in duration. The 8:30 am trip usually has calmer sea conditions and a bit cooler temps.  The 11:00 am trip is commonly a bit warmer but might experience rougher sea conditions as the afternoon winds may begin to blow. While we enjoy good sightings over this entire time period the peak months when the most whales are here and the weather is at its best are August through October. In April we will have the opportunity to see both Grey whales and Humpbacks but this is also our slowest month with sightings on about 65% of the trips.
  • January - March is Grey Whale season: During these months we enjoy excellent opportunities to see the California Grey whales as they migrate past our shores. The trips are 2.5 hours in duration and they depart at 9:00 am with additional 12:00 pm departures on weekends.  January is the best month for the southbound migration and March is best for the Northbound migration.

Local Experience

Local experience matters when looking for whales.  I have been in continuous, year round operation on the waters of San Luis Bay since 2012. I have also worked as a boat captain / naturalist / adventure travel guide / white water rafting guide for over 40 years in many countries around the world and I bring all of that experience to bear on these trips. In my time at Port San Luis, I have personally taken over 15,000 guests out onto these waters to see the whales and other animals that frequent this area. If you are looking for a knowledgeable, friendly captain to escort your family out for a safe, educational and memorable whale watching experience please join me for a tour. 

Are you guaranteed to see a whale?

The short answer is no as this is not a zoo. Please understand that I am taking you out to see wild animals that live freely in the real world and that is the beauty of this experience. I will always use every bit of experience I have to find them for you but no one on earth has control over mother nature.  While we do find whales on the majority of our tours there will be trips that will not.  Please have realistic expectations when you join one of the tours and know that I will alway give you my best efforts. Unfortunately my expenses are higher when we do not find whales as we search more, so we do not offer refunds or credits for future trips when we do not find whales. I appreciate your understanding as I am not in control of the weather or the animals.  

PLEASE NOTE: If the ocean becomes too rough or foggy on the day of your trip to safely go out to the whales we will still go for memorable coastal explorer tour and you will receive a 50 percent refund.

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