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Welcome to Avila Beach Whale Watching. We are only 15 minutes from Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. Open every day! Reservations are recommended.

Please consider joining us for a whale watching adventure or educational boat tour 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 one hour "Coastal Explorer' private group tour for those that would like to go boating and see some of the animals that live close to shore without the commitment of going offshore to possibly see whales. We also offer custom / private tours,  ash scattering services and photography trips. All ages are welcome on our tours. Please dress for possible cold conditions and read the directions on were to meet us provided in your confirmation email.


We have been rated the best whale watching and best boat tour on the central coast of California every year for the past 13 years on Tripadvisor, Google and Yelp.  We find whales on over 95% of our tours! If you have any questions please call or text Capt. Mark 805-540-4667. 


Please click the yellow menu icon in the upper left corner of your screen to learn more about who we are and what we offer. You will find pages listing:

  • More information about our different whale watching trips and seasons
  • Recent sightings and the past 2 years of sightings
  • Ash scattering services
  • Reservations 
  • Cancellation policy
  • What to wear and bring 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
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Departure Times and Pricing. There are no booking fees or taxes added to the price. We hate it when companies do that!


Spring, Summer and Fall : April 1st through December 1 st: Summer Whale watching trips are 2 hours in duration. These tours depart at 9:00 am and 11:30 am 7 days a week. Per person pricing is $125. Early morning and late afternoon / evening trips are available for private tours. Please call (805) 540-4667 to make arrangements for extra tours.


Winter : January 1st through March 31st:  Winter Whale watching trips are 2.5 hours in duration and depart at 9:00 am and 12:00 noon.  $125 per person.


Year round: Coastal explorer one hour private group tours are $299 for your party of up to 6 people depart at 2:00 or 3:00 pm and at other times by request. This is not a whale watching trip. 


Ash Scattering, burial at sea: One hour excursions are $325 weekdays and $350 weekends. Please call for details and reservations (805) 540-4667


Custom charters are also available for any occasion and are priced at $375 per hour. Departure times are arranged by request. Sunset tours are additional $100. Please call 805-540-4667 to arrange a custom tour.


Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance and a little as 30 minutes prior to departure. All ages are welcome there are on age limits.

What time of the year to go whale watching?

We have very good whale watching from February through November 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 we are seeing currently. The past 2 years of trips notes are listed there if you would like to compare your dates with what we saw in 2022 and 2023. Every year is a bit different and these are wild animals that are free in the ocean so please have realistic expectations and understand that we are offering you a chance to see something special and not a guarantee that you will.  

  • April through December is Humpback Whale season: 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. These trips typically see whales on over 95% of the excursions. In April we will have the opportunity to see both Grey whales and Humpbacks.
  • January through March is Grey Whale season: On these trips we enjoy excellent opportunities to see the California Grey whales as they migrate past our shores. March is the best month for seeing Grey whales with sighting on about 80% of the trips.
  • For a more detailed breakdown of what you might see please click on the individual trip description pages.

What time of the day to go?

Departure times for whale watching trips are 9:00 am and 11:30 am. The earlier trip usually has calmer sea conditions and the mid day trip has a bit more sunshine. The whales activity levels are about the same but do vary from day to day. There will be periods of calm and clear weather when we will be able to add more trips for private groups. These private trips typically go at 6:30 am or 2:00 pm. Please call me if you are interested in adding a private trip at a special time.


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, our 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 we are available to answer questions about what we are seeing. 

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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Local Experience

Local experience matters when looking for whales.  We have been in continuous, year round operation on the waters of San Luis Bay since 2012. Captain Mark Kocina the owner has worked as a boat captain / naturalist / adventure travel guide / white water rafting guide for over 40 years in many countries around the world. He will bring all of that experience to bear on these trips. Captain Frank Orazio has been fishing these waters for 21 years and is an excellent boat captain with a good background in wildlife sighting. In our combined time at Port San Luis, we have taken over 18,000 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 us for a tour. 

Are you guaranteed to see a whale?

The short answer is no as this is not a zoo. Please understand that we are offering you a chance to see wild animals that live freely in the real world and that is the beauty of this experience. We will always use every bit of experience we have to find them for you but no one on earth has control over mother nature.  While the whales do present themselves for us to see on the majority of our tours there will be trips that they do not.  Unfortunately our 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. We appreciate your understanding as we are 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 give you the option to either get a  full refund or go on a coastal explorer tour and you will receive a 50 percent refund.

How close will we get to the whales?

We will observe the animals from a safe and respectful distance. NOAA rules now stipulate that the safe distance for us to approach whales is 100 yards, Sea Lions and Dolphins is 50 yards.  At these distances we will be able to see the animals clearly and more importantly the animals will be safe and able to go about their day undisturbed by us. 

Restroom Facilities

There is no toilet on the boat. Please use one of the public toilets in the port area before boarding. The most convenient toilet is found on the right side of the roadway as you enter the port area. It is located on the ground floor level of the Coastal gateway building


We believe that each person deserves to be treated equally without discrimination of any kind for any reason. We do not discriminate in any manner against any person on account of marital status, religious creed, color, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, medical condition (cancer / genetic characteristics) or disability, (mental or physical) including HIV and Aids.

Everyone is welcome on our tours, there is no age limit

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