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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
Marina del Rey Whale Watch Cruise
Our family really enjoyed a whale watch cruise that departs from Marina del Rey. The name of the company is Marina del rey Sportfishing. They are primarily a fishing cruise outfit but last year they purchased a boat from another company, converted it for whale watch cruises and added to their business. The website for the company is http://mdrsf.com/whalewatching.html. There are typically two departures each weekend day and one or two weekday trips depending on the season. From what I can see of the website, there are cruises Wed., Thurs. Fri., Sat and Sun for this time of the year. The boat holds 90 people and there is both indoor and outdoor seating. The cruises last for three hours. The cost is $30 but they are on the groupon website. The groupon is for $15 but then you have to pay a crew fee of $5/person so the total is $20 each. I think this is a good deal considering it’s local (no driving down to Newport or up to Oxnard) and the parking is free.
The best time to see whales is usually November to April but that is for the annual migration of the California grey whales. In the other months of the year it is still possible to see minky, blue and fin whales. It is also highly likely that you will see dolphins, sea lions, porpoises and sea birds.
The address for the cruise is 52 Fiji Way right near Burton Chace Park and Fisherman’s Village which has many shops and restaurants. A great feature though is that parking at Dock 52 for the cruise is free!We arrived a half hour early and determined that we should drive to the nearby park to use the restrooms as we did not see any at Dock 52. We then came back, parked and got in line to board. Both a sportfishing boat and the whale watch boat docked during that time and everyone coming off the boats looked happy and satisfied. Jody asked a couple of passenger of the previous whale watch cruise if they’d seen anything and they said they saw everything: whales, dolphins, sea lions and more. We were pumped and boarded.
The weather was very warm on land and remained pleasant for the most part the entire cruise. We were happy that we had brought sweatshirts but it never got that cold, just windy coming back to land. You are not allowed to bring on coolers but we brought some snacks and I saw others doing that as well. There are also snacks and drinks for sale on board like chips, cookies and cup o noodles.
We got on and found a bench inside to stash our stuff on. There was a quick speech from one of the crew telling us that no seats are reserved for the entire trip so feel free to move around and sit wherever, whenever. He also told us to tell him if we are starting to feel seasick and that if we did to just lean over the rail and not use the bathroom.
Speaking of seasickness, I purchased Dramamine and took two pills. I also gave one pill to Madison, Logan and Jody. No one got sick! I have been seasick before so it was wonderful to avoid it this time.
We took off from the dock and everyone was excited to get out into the open ocean. We kept our eyes pealed and looked everywhere around the boat. The rest of the passengers were nice and there was no weird behavior. There were two naturalists on board from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and one of them was sweet and told me kids all about the sea life that they were likely to see.
At about 1 and a half hours into the cruise, we arrived at the area where they had seen whales on the previous cruise. This was about six miles from shore and we didn’t see land at this point. We all waited patiently and then there was a surfacing of a minky whale but it was about the size of a large dolphin so I was kind of disappointed. I wanted a huge blue whale to crest, belly flop and blow out of its blowhole. Oh well. The captain informed us that the whales move very quickly, sometimes at 35 miles per hour, so it’s not easy to find them. They also stay under water for 4-6 minutes so they can be tricky to spot. It was cool that the boat was not big because we felt very close to the water. We saw a sun fish and a few sea lions. We went to a few different spots trying to spot whales and then headed back.
On the boat ride back we went through a pod of perhaps 200 or more dolphins that were spiraling in and out, swimming and surfing through the waves. The kids just loved this and it was thrilling to have them on both sides of the boat. We sat inside at this point and relaxed and had some snacks.
The crew were friendly and the boat was clean. I really have no complaints and would definitely recommend Marina Del Rey Sportfishing for whale watch cruising!