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California Gray Whale Watching

3hr Whale Watching Cruise


$39/child (13-18)

Under 12 FREE

Whale Guarantee – If we don’t see whales, you get a full credit for another expedition in the same calendar year.

Expedition Highlights

The Channel Islands are the best place to view the California gray whale migration as they head back up to Alaska with their young from their calving grounds in Baja.

Naturalist-led Whale Watching Adventure!

  • See whales, dolphins & other amazing wildlife in the Santa Barbara Channel!
  • Experience the gray whale migration as these amazing animals make their annual northern migration up the California coast to Alaska with their calves in tow.

Expedition Details

Important Times

Trip Duration: 3 hours

Whale Watching from Oxnard

  • Boarding Begins: 8:45 AM
  • Boat Departure: 9:00 AM
  • Return to Channel Islands Harbor: 12:00 PM

Trip Specific Information

  • This trip operates from January through mid April
  • Guaranteed Whale Season: February 14th to March 31st


  • Destination: Anacapa Island (NON LANDING) & the Santa Barbara Channel
  • Enjoy a 3 hour cruise viewing whales, dolphins and other marine life.

Departure Harbor

Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard CA
3600 Harbor Way
Oxnard, CA 93035

What to Expect…

Orca Whales are sometimes a rare treat to see during the gray whale migration.

Every year, gray whales embark on an epic migration from Alaska all the way to Baja California, where they birth their calves. Mothers and their young calves then migrate north along the California coastline back to Alaska during the late winter and spring, which is when we encounter them on our whale watching tips!

We are lucky enough to have them visit Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary starting in February.

Be on the lookout for a variety of other whale and dolphin species that can bee seen during our trip as well!

Learn More about the Gray Whale Migration Here

The Santa Barbara Channel is a global hotspot for biodiversity and marine life. Dolphins, whales, sea lions, and over 30 other marine mammal species thrive in the abundant waters off our shore.

The crossing from Oxnard to Anacapa Island is only 14 miles, which we can cross in just over an hour. During the whale migration north, over 2,000 whales will make their way through this narrow corridor on their way back to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska.

Gray whales migrate close to shore on their northern return journey to Alaska making this portion of the Santa Barbara Channel is the best and easiest place to view the gray whale’s migration!

The Sunfish Whale Watching crew is ready and excited to share their passion and enthusiasm for whales and the Santa Barbara Channel.


Captain Alex L.

Captain Alex can usually be found on, in, or under the water.  He has had a love of the ocean from a very early age.  He developed this love of the water by going on weekly fishing trips in the Santa Barbara Channel with his father and uncles from the age of two. He is a USCG licensed Captain and a certified PADI Rescue Diver.  He has captained many scuba diving, kayaking, and whale watching expeditions around the Channel Islands.  In addition to recreational tours, he has also captained for Hollywood film crews such as James Cameron and the Travel Channel show Destination Unknown, taking them to film locations on and under the water.  He also has experience captaining for NOAA and other research agencies.

Pre Trip Planning

What to bring with you?

  • Snack and beverages – a small cooler is fine if you want to keep things cool.
  • Water – reusable water bottles can be filled onboard.
  • Warm boat clothing – street clothes are fine, dress in layers. Long pants are recommended. Jackets and blankets may also make you more comfortable.
  • Motion sickness medicine and personal medications.
  • Gratuity for crew.

Local Restaurants & Lodging

Stay for a seafood dinner or drinks at the Marine Emporium after your trip. There are many restaurants right where the Sunfish picks you up and drops you off, some with harbor views.

Book a weekend visit! Stay at the Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach Resort-only a few minutes drive to the harbor. Right on the beach, this is an excellent place to relax after an adventurous day at Anacapa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you guarantee whales?

From February 14th to April 7 we guarantee you will see gray whales or another type of large whale species. We almost always see dolphins, which are toothed whales :), but these are not included in our promise to you.

If we don’t see whales, you can return on any whale watching trip we operate during the same season. An email will be send post trip with a code to rebook for free!

How long is the whale watching trip?

We do a 3 hour loop from Oxnard to Anacapa Island and back.

Do we land on the island?

We do not land at Anacapa Island, but we will usually get close enough for you to see the birds on the rocks and a visit to the Anacapa Arch.

Do we offer private trips to Anacapa?

Yes, you can charter the entire boat for a 3 hour (or longer) tour. Call for details.

Customer Reviews of our Expeditions

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