Get Out, Get Some Nature: Whale Watching Season Returns to Ventura

Whale watching company promises safe, socially distanced whale migration viewing
By CYNTHIA YANG, Weekendr Staff Writer
Published on Jan 28, 2021

A popular weekend spot for families in Ventura—just a little over an hour up the freeway—has reopened.


Island Packers, the official boat concessionaire to the Channel Islands National Park, with daily departures to the Channel Islands from Ventura Harbor Village, is now providing cruises for the  2021 Winter whale watching season.


Family and friends can safely view Pacific Gray whales migrating through the Santa Barbara Channel from their feeding grounds in Alaska to their breeding grounds in Baja. Pacific Gray Whales are normally sighted in the National Marine Sanctuary near Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island that began in late December April 14, 2021. This mammoth migration of over 20,000 whales and 6,000 miles twice a year remains a major attraction in Southern California.


Sightings of the southern migration began in December for Pacific Gray Whales, according to our friends at Island Packers, they’ve spotted  Humpback Whales, Fin whales, along with the occasional Orcas. Common Dolphins are enjoyed year-round, delighting passengers as they frolic with the boat, and ride the bow and stern waves.   


The half-day Winter Whale Watch Cruise provides views of the Ventura coastline or the Channel Islands; depending on where the whales may be sighted.  


Winter Whale Watch excursions are available now thru mid-April from Ventura and/ or Channel Islands Harbor departing at 9:30 a.m. and/or 1:30 p.m.   All-day trips with landings to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island are also available year-round. On Santa Cruz, both Scorpion Anchorage and Prisoner’s Harbor are now open. All-day trips run from $ 62.00 to $ 84.00 per adult.  


Camping is currently not available on the Channel Islands but will resume soon. 


The company also emphasizes that safety protocols include passenger loads limited to under 50% capacity to better facilitate social distancing.


In addition, Island Packer employees are health screened before every shift.


Passengers will be given a health inquiry before being allowed access to office or boats, and everyone is required to wear face covering onboard vessels. Office and boat crew also wear appropriate PPE when in contact with the public.


The trip to Ventura is worth it just to visit Ventura County’s Ventura Harbor. Bordered by the City of Ventura on three sides and the Pacific Ocean on the west, it’s the site of one of the largest squid offloading harbors in North America. 


Ventura Harbor has a total of 1,500 boat slips, 40 unique shops and dockside restaurants, two waterfront hotels, beaches, green spaces, water sports, and boating and cruising options, all part of an affordable, multigenerational vacation destination. Ventura Harbor is 20 miles from Santa Barbara, within 15 miles of Oxnard and is 60 miles from Los Angeles International Airport. It is accessible in just minutes from scenic US Highway 101.


More information about Island Packers, is available online at  For visitor information, contact Ventura Harbor Village at 805-477-0470, online at Ventura Harbor Village is located at 1583 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura.  Post, share, and like #VenturaHarbor


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