Forget the Apple 'spaceship' and Salesforce tower — San Francisco’s most eye-popping wonder is the army of giant whales that navigate its waters, and it’s surprisingly easy to get up close

humpback whale

Whale watching may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about things to do in Northern California.

Touring San Francisco? Definitely. Visiting wine country? Sure. Seeing Apple’s new Spaceship headquarters? Maybe, if you’re a tech geek.

But it turns out the area is also a splendid place to catch sight of the leviathans of the seas. Every year, several species, from orcas on up to the biggest of them all, blue whales, make their way down the California coast on the way from Alaska to Mexico and then back again. Just which whales you’ll see depends on the time of the year.

Boats that offer whale watching tours leave out of San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, which is about 25 miles south of the City. You can also get whale watching tours on boats that leave from points along Monterey Bay, which is south of San Jose.

In December, I went on whale watching tour with my family on a boat that left out of Moss Landing, which is about an hour south of San Jose on Monterey Bay. We caught sight of more than 10 humpback whales, including three that we’re swimming together. At one point, one of the humpbacks surfaced within 50 yards of our boat. It was an amazing experience.

But there was more to see than just humpbacks. Here’s more about our unforgettable whale-watching adventure and everything you need to know to have your own expedition: 

SEE ALSO: A photographer captured the astonishing moment a pair of humpback whales breached in perfect unison off Sydney

Whale watching tours leave out of three primary areas in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Boat tours leave from San Francisco; Half Moon Bay, which is just south of San Francisco; and from harbors along Monterey Bay, which is south of San Jose. 

Our tour left from Moss Landing, which is about an hour south of San Jose.

Moss Landing Harbor is picturesque and mostly filled with fishing boats.

But it’s used for more than just that. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is located at the harbor and has a research vessel docked there. The ship carries a submersible the institute uses to explore the ocean.

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Source: businessinsider – travel
Forget the Apple 'spaceship' and Salesforce tower — San Francisco’s most eye-popping wonder is the army of giant whales that navigate its waters, and it’s surprisingly easy to get up close