Oxnard's Whale Season Opens with a Splash

The traditional start date for tours 'round the ocean-close burg? It's Dec. 26.

Island Packers

What to Know

  • Dec. 26, 2019-April 2020
  • Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard
  • Several tour companies offer multi-hour ocean excursions

Even if you felt like you had a list of holiday must-dos as long as a whale's tail, let's be real: Whales are larger than the scribbled rosters cataloging our human errands, the rundowns we keep tallied on a piece of paper hanging on the fridge.

No one, of course, is claiming that your December wasn't super-packed with obligations.

But our landlubbery concerns, especially those that seem to boast extra seasonal stress, have a way of fading away when we venture out onto the waves in search of blowholes and flukes.

For whales, as in real whales, and not the whale-sized heaps of stuff we still have to get done by the end of the year, are the stars around Oxnard on the day after Christmas.

That's the traditional start date for whale watching tours, the out-and-about cruises helmed by Island Packers Cruises, Doug's Channel Islands Tours, Wild Blue Adventures, and Channel Islands Sportfishing.

For we're heading into the thick of mega mammal season, when "an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Pacific Gray Whales migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel on their way to and from the warm lagoons of Baja California, Mexico."


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That's as cool as the ocean is deep.

That season runs through April each year, so you have time to plan your ocean-fun adventure, and decide if you'd like to watch for whales while bundled in woolly winter wear or search for gentle giants as spring begins to work its warm magic.

Still? Hopping on a tour boat is a post-Christmas must-do for many Southern Californians, whale fans who consider a day with the Pacific Grays to be an essential part of their joyous holiday celebrations.

Will you for sure see a whale? That remains a question mark, of course, though few people would quibble about the pleasures of briny air, seabirds, and the occasional seal or dolphin sighting.

Where will catch your boat, once you shore up your ticket? Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard is the place to go, SoCal cetologists.

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