Pacific Ocean

Summertime Whale Watching Opens in Ventura

Island Packers, which ferries travelers to Channel Islands National Park, is keeping an admiring eye out for beautiful ocean behemoths.

Chuck Graham

What to Know

  • Island Packers Cruises
  • Ventura Harbor Village
  • Several safety protocols, including face coverings, are in place

Whales on the move and frolicsome dolphins at play?

We might find such concepts depicted on our favorite t-shirt, the one that features several magical dolphins and whales in mid-leap.

We might see such a wide range of ocean animals celebrated on a beloved coffee mug or the pretty poster over our desk, the one that calms us instantly with daydreams of seaside fun.

But finding a host of marine mammals, where they actually exist in the ocean, takes some planning, some time, and a pro team at the ship's wheel.

For many Southern Californians, for well over a half century now, that pro team has been Island Packers Cruises, the boat company that ferries adventurers to Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary.

And while vessels are running in the direction of the island-amazing national park, new excursions are popping up now, just in time to see some of the most sizable earthlings around.

The Island Packers Whale Watching experiences are back, and they're departing, through Aug. 30, 2020, from Ventura Harbor Village.

You'll roam Santa Barbara Channel while keeping watch for whale-obvious signs, such as trails on the water's surface, blowhole spouts, and those unmistakable flukes.

Whale sightings are never a sure thing, but recent trips have encountered fin whales, humpback whales, and that beautiful behemoth, the blue whale, along with a host of other H2O-loving denizens.

"Historically, over 28 species of whales and dolphins have been identified within the waters of the Marine Sanctuary," reveals the Island Packers team, so, for sure: You'll be calling upon an area that cetaceans do adore.

As for what animals are seen each day?

There's a handy grid for that, and it is updated regularly. In early July, the Island Packers boats have encountered both humpback and minke whales, as well as thousands (yes, thousands) of dolphins each day.

If spending six hours on a deck, out in the salty open air, appeals to you, fabulous. But there's a shorter outing, too, if that is more your thing.

In terms of what we can expect in terms of safety policies?

There are new protocols in place, including face coverings, so please do review everything that Island Packers is doing to create safe adventures, and requesting of guests, before deciding to book your day out on the boat.

And, as always, checking in on the California travel advisories before setting off on a day adventure is the right thing to do during the summer of 2020.

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