Whale Tours San Diego FAQs

Let us help answer some of the most common whale tours San Diego FAQs from our guests!

Whales are active all day long. The only difference between the morning and the afternoon excursion is that the morning may be slightly calmer and colder out on the water and the afternoon may be slightly warmer and winds may slightly pick up.


Yes. With only six tickets per trip, San Diego whale watching tours often sell out (but are never crowded). Book as far in advance as you can to guarantee your desired day and time. You can also purchase a gift voucher for a friend or loved one at your convenience here!


On our public trips we allow children 4 and up. Children 13 and under must wear life jackets assigned by the Captain at all times and follow Captain’s instructions. If you have children under 4, we require a private charter.


Yes! We do offer multiple private charters. To inquire further, please email or call us to reserve your excursion. Please keep in mind that availability is limited and we do recommend booking as far in advance as possible to lock in your desired date and time.


Our boats greatly reduce the chance of sea sickness as our low profile does not rock aggressively compared to the traditional whale watching boats. There will be constant motion depending on the sea conditions. Be sure to eat at least a light meal. Consider taking precautions if you know you are sensitive.


Whales are wild animals, so there are no guarantees that we will see them. However, our guides have lots of experience and knowledge about the area, so it’s rare that we don’t see any. All the whale watching captains in San Diego stay in touch to share information about sightings, which helps everyone have a chance to see whales.

SMALL — only six passengers, no crowds. FAST — more time with the wildlife & scenery. OPEN — enjoy fresh air, bird sounds, and no diesel fumes. PERSONAL — each trip is tailored to those on board. STABLE — much less likelihood of seasickness. QUIET — our engines are much quieter than most.

Most likely. It’s worth asking! We are typically able to accommodate almost all parties.

May – December: Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, and Minke Whales

January – April: Gray Whales, Fin Whales, and Humpback Whales

San Diego is a phenomenally productive ecosystem that attracts seabirds, seals, sea lions, blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales, gray whales, minke whales, sei whales, killer whales, bryde’s whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, pacific white side dolphins, sea turtles, mola mola, mako sharks, hammerhead sharks, rays and much more. We enjoy all the forms of life out there and will happily tell you all we know about whatever we see.

Leaving from the beautiful Sheraton Marina Hotel allows you a chance to view the downtown skyline as well as many other sites San Diego Bay has to offer. As we make our way past the Navy Submarine Base and the Point Loma Lighthouse and then onto our ocean excursion, we will get up close to the action as we see breaching whales and dolphins leap into the air for an adventure of a lifetime!

Adventure R.I.B. Rides is located on the main dock at the Sheraton Marina Hotel, East Tower which is directly across the street from the San Diego International Airport.  Follow signs to the Airport then turn onto Harbor Island drive when in front of the airport entrance under the overpass. Once on Harbor Island Drive make your first right at the light into the Sheraton Hotel main entrance.

Once you are on the Sheraton property you have the option to make an immediate right and take a ticket for self paid parking or you can drive up to the front entrance for valet parking.

Once self parked, valet parked or dropped off by taxi proceed through the front doors of the hotel and straight through the main lobby then out the back doors. Once behind the hotel you will see a large Whale fountain, make a right at the fountain and proceed down the walkway past the pool until you see the gate to the marina on the left hand side. We are located at the bottom of the ramp through that gate.

The address for the Sheraton Marina Hotel is:

1380 Harbor Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

We recommend you show up to the boat with an extra layer of clothing. During late Fall, Winter and early Spring, we recommend you bring a jacket or windbreaker. It is typically cooler on the water than on land and temperatures may change throughout your excursion.

We do have insulated orange Mustang style one-piece jump suits available for teenage and adult passengers. The suits are very warm and easily fit over your clothing (available in limited sizes only).

We also recommend sunglasses and sunscreen (even on overcast days).

Adventure Rib Rides reserves the right to cancel a charter due to unsafe sea or weather conditions, minimum passenger requirement not met or maintenance needs which do not allow the boat to operate Properly. In such a case, Adventure Rib Rides will try to reschedule the charter if possible. If not possible passengers will receive a full refund.

All Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled departure date. If canceled less than 48 hours or if a no show occurs the customer will be responsible for the full amount of the excursion.

As we have minimum space on our boats when a client reserves a specific date and time that booking is held exclusively for that client and no longer available to other customers which is why we need a minimum of at least 48 hours to potentially fill the cancelled seats prior to the trip.

We are permitted for up to six passengers, Adventure RIB is never crowded. We will soon have a 12 passenger boat for our San Diego Harbor boat tours!

Standard tipping for boat charters is 10-20% of the price of the tour which comes out to about $10-$20 per person. Tipping is optional but greatly appreciated! Our captains are very knowledgable and passionate about what they do, and a generous tip is the best way to say “Thank you!”

Absolutely! We will make an effort to bring together enough passengers to run a trip for you. If we don’t know you’re out there, we can’t contact you to let you know when the minimum is met.

Not necessarily. It’s worth checking our calendar for the days you’re thinking about.

The dock is wheelchair and walker accessible, but one must be able to step down from the dock into the boat and back onto the dock after the excursion.

The tour runs in light rain and other moderate weather conditions, but Adventure RIB may cancel the activity up to the start time in the event of severe or unsafe weather conditions. If we cancel the event, ticket holders will be allowed to reschedule tickets (subject to availability), convert their tickets to Gift Certificates for use in the future, or receive a full refund.

There is a possibility of getting wet when it’s windy and choppy since our vessel is open and low to the water. We provide Mustang waterproof suits that fit over your warm layers and provide wind and water protection. The captain will endeavor to keep you as dry as possible, but in some conditions spray is inevitable.

We follow the federal whale watching guidelines that apply to all boats, including kayaks: stopping the boat at least 300 ft (91 m) away from the whales, not pursuing or blocking them, and driving slowly when we are near them. We allow the whales or dolphins to approach us if they choose.

Food and drinks are not included with your trip. We have a cooler on board that can accommodate light snacks and beverages. There are restaurants nearby. We do not recommend bringing full carry-out meals or picnics on board.

We encourage passengers to bring their own reusable water bottles, and we consciously do not offer single-use plastic water bottles. As ocean stewards we support alternatives to “disposable” plastics because we’ve seen the destructive effects it has on the sea life we love. We might even stop to pick up some plastic trash or a deflated helium balloon during your trip, and celebrate saving the life of a sea turtle or whale that will not eat that one piece of plastic by accident.

Fine leather that could be damaged by salt, high-heeled shoes or loose sandals, skirts, full meals, crumbly or messy snacks; fragile glassware.

Our boats are RIBs, or Rigid-hull Inflatable Boats, with a hard fiberglass hull surrounded by inflated pontoons for extra stability. RIBs are popular for whale-watching in many other parts of the world. Ours is the first offering whale watching tours in San Diego. Our boats were designed for military patrol use and are built to the highest standards of safety and reliability.

Yes, life jackets for children and adults are on board. There are enough for each passenger on board. Children 13 and under must wear a life vest at all times.  Our orange mustang waterproof suits also serve as full body flotation devices.

Our captain may give you a taste of the boats maneuverability and speed at their discretion and far away from whales, but our primary focus is the experience of closeness to nature. We always operate within safe parameters for the sea’s changing conditions and with utmost respect for the marine life.

We have three vessels that can hold six passengers. If you have a larger group, we can schedule multiple tours at once.

Once you are on the Sheraton property you have the option to make an immediate right and take a ticket for self paid parking or you can drive up to the front entrance for valet parking.

Once self parked, valet parked or dropped off by taxi proceed through the front doors of the hotel and straight through the main lobby then out the back doors. Once behind the hotel you will see a large Whale fountain, make a right at the fountain and proceed down the walkway past the pool until you see the gate to the marina on the left hand side. We are located at the bottom of the ramp through that gate.

  • Book a morning trip rather than afternoon, for smoother seas.
  • Take over-the-counter medication (Non-drowsy Dramamine) an hour before the trip
  • Choose the rear seats, as the front goes up and down more.
  • Tell your captain that you’re sensitive at the start of the trip, and give updates if you start to feel queasy. Usually he or she can adjust the motion of the boat to help you feel better.

We encourage you to bring a camera or video equipment on board to capture some of the wildlife and beautiful scenery you will see on your excursion. The RIB is a very dry boat, but there are occasional wind and sea conditions that can cause water to spray which is why we recommend having the ability to cover your equipment while underway. Many times our boats are used for camera & film crew for the movie and surf film industry.

A zoom lens is best, such as 70-200, 70-300, or 100-400. Next best would be a fixed 200 or 300. A 1.4x telextender will add flexibility if you own one and if your camera body will auto-focus with it attached. It’s great to have a wide-angle too when the action is close to the boat.

Yes! Gift certificates are great for any occasion. To purchase a gift certificate, click the “Gift Certificates” tab at the top of our booking website. You may access this site by clicking the reserve now button on the top of our website.

We never go the full speed that the boat is capable of (40+ knots), and we only go as fast as our passengers are comfortable. The main advantage of being on the fast boat is that we are able to move faster to see more wildlife. If at any point during the trip you are uncomfortable let the captain know and we will slow down to make sure that everyone is having fun!