Blue Whale Migration in San Diego

Swim with the Largest Animals to Ever Live

June 23-29, 2019: Three spots left

Guests: 4
Price: $11,000

Get our FREE eBook: Up Close With Blue Whales

  • Where: San Diego, CA
  • Experience: 13 yrs Blue Whale experience
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Max # of Guests: 5
  • Pricing: View Blue Whale Free Diving brochure
  • (Pricing will not include hotel & airfare)
  • Activities: Free Diving & Snorkeling
  • Temperature:
    • Water: 66° – 72° F(19 – 22° C)
    • Air: 70°+ F  (21+° C)


Updates, Trip Reports, Special Offers

Day 1
– Arrive san Diego. Check in to the hotel of your choice. The rest of the day will be spent preparing cameras, discussing logistics and strategy. We meet in the evening for a briefing and dinner.Days 2 – 6
– We operate out of mission Bay. For the next five days we’ll be engaged in blue whale free diving. A spotter plane will leave early in the morning, weather permitting. (the marine layer is sometimes too low to fly and scout for whales. in this case, the pilot will wait until the layer rises high enough to fly safely.) the pilot searches for Blue Whales for 3 to 4 hours in an area 15 to 25 miles offshore between san Diego and mexico. We leave by boat each morning towards the area being scouted.Days 7
– Depart San Diego for home, having had a whale of a good time!

The Experience

While our scout plane lifts off from san Diego’s nearby montgomery field to locate the exact location of our pre-scouted whales, we depart mission Beach in Waterhorse Charter’s humboldt dive boat. Designed for divers, it has an overall length of 45 feet with a 16-foot beam.
Employing the use of a scouting plane has proved time and again to be the best way to locate Blues, and is the method we used when filming for both BBC and national Geographic. We have the very best pilot who has been working with us for the last seven years, and he knows exactly what to look for when scouting for blue whales. Despite their huge size, they are easy for an inexperienced eye to miss, but our skilled pilot spots them every time. he looks for red algae, a popular food for blue whales, as well as their characteristic breathing blows.

Our five snorkelers, each with their own dedicated kayak and master paddler, plus the expedition leader, will have plenty of space on a boat designed to carry 22 passengers. While the humboldt’s top speed is 30 mph, we cruise a bit under that around a speedy 20 miles per hour. The boat’s amenities include a head plus a hot water shower. We’ll have hot soup, a tasty lunch, and snacks on board. You’ll want a swim jacket for that out of water warmth.

Typically we encounter the shy blue whales near Baja’s isla Coronado. located approximately 15 miles south of san Diego Bay, the four islands with a colorful history are eight miles from the Mexican coast. Don’t forget to bring your passport!

At a distance of approximately 1000 yards, the humboldt turns off her engine so as not to frighten the whales. Blue whales may be the largest animals in the world, but they are also one of the shyest. They are extremely docile and become startled easily, so we need to take the utmost care not to scare them with our boat noise. As soon as we have deter- mined that the whale is swimming straight and not feeling threatened, we advance in sit on top double kayaks.

Snorkelers are prepared to enter the water with wetsuits on (66° to 72° f water temp, air at 70°+ f), fins, mask and snorkel ready, and camera in hand.

Each is paddled and maneuvered into position by expert master kayakers. We wait topside in the warm air and inviting west coast sunshine for just the right moment to quietly slip into the cool, blue water. This perfect combination of temperatures is a taste of the equally perfect blue whale encounter you are about to have in this most ultimate of wildlife photography opportunities. As the whale approaches, your heart will be pounding, your camera clicking, and you will have the experience of a lifetime. We primarily snorkel with the Blues, but if you are a skilled free diver, this is a valid option as well. With less than 5m (15ft) of water separating you from these graceful and gigantic denizens of the sea, you are sure to come away from the expedition with a deeper understanding of and connection to these amazing animals we are lucky enough to share our water planet with. Our scouting pilot is fantastic, there is absolutely no better service to be had, and the superb caliber of this Big Animals expedition will be obvious in the quality of your encounters and images.

Here is an account of what you have to look forward to. All five of us had been sit- ting in our kayaks on top of a flat sea for at least two hours and the whales were all around us. We were all spread out about a mile apart from each other observing the show of blows. The plane hovered around us as the pilot was seeing the whales from above; the skipper was yelling to the left or to the right, but we kept just missing them. We were getting warmer and warmer in our wetsuits. i slid into the cool water every so often just to refresh myself. In the mean- time, i took a few catnaps on the Kayak and my paddler had to wake me up few times.
The sun started to go down as 4pm approached and visibility in the water began to diminish, but the number of blows in close proximity to the kayak started rising.

Nick my kayaker counted four, five, and then six! He started paddling towards one, but i asked him to stop. “Just stay here,” i told him. The less motion we make the better. Another few minutes passed and nick started slowly paddling. Again, i told him to stop, and before i could finish my words i saw the tip of the head of a Blue just two feet under the surface only a few feet in front of the Kayak bow. To jump or not to jump…it was not a question. it was too late to enter the water, but instead i lowered my camera with a wide angle lens to my left side just one foot underwater, aiming the heavy camera as best i could to face this incoming giant of the sea. And i got it. One of the rarest images of a blue whale, a frontal view from the tip of its jaw back to its dreamy eye. These are the kinds of precious wilderness moments we provide.

It is critical to remember during any BigAnimals expedition that this is not sea World. The show is not at 10am or 2pm. this is the wilderness. We are doing our best to inform you and share our research and past years of experiences with you. Our previous encounters are an example of what has happened before, but are in no way a guarantee for what you can expect to see now. You are signing on for an adventure and to truly enjoy it, you have to fully respect Mother Nature for her own unpredictable behavior


  • five days of blue whale free diving aboard the Waterhorse
  • only five guests per trip
  • spotter plane assistance for 5 days, up to 4 hours per day
  • five two-person Kayaks each with an expert Kayaker to take us quickly and quietly out to the whales
  • lunch and snacks on board
  • nick lebeouf Expedition leader


  • 6 nights hotel
  • meals which aren’t specified above, soft drinks or alcohol
  • Cab fare, car rental
  • Activities outside of the itinerary
  • items of a personal nature (phone calls, tips, drinks)
  • scuba gear (this is a snorkeling expedition only)
  • overweight luggage
  • items not specifically mentioned under “tour Price includes”
  • insurance – it is mandatory you buy your own travel, health, and diving insurance
  • Additional costs incurred due to independent travel arrangements
  • Gratuities
  • Airfare to and from san Diego


When we receive your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive and detailed Trip Preparation Bulletin about the experience and the destination. All trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed.

  • A deposit of 33% of the total trip price is required to secure space on the trip.
  • Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure.
  • We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full by 60 days before departure.
  • Cancellation Policy
    • Must be made in writing.
    • More than 90 days before trip: Deposit will be refunded in full.
    • 90 days or less before trip: Deposit will be refunded if space is sold, less unrecoverable costs of sales, and administration costs.
    • No refund is made for unused part of the itinerary.
  • The following are subject to change:
    • Cost of services which are not included in the expedition price
    • Flight time and schedule
    • Weather, water temperature, and animal behavior

Insurance: you MUST provide proof of travel and diving insurance

Question - how can we help?

Nick LeBeouf

Expedition Leader

With over a decade of experience leading California & Baja expeditions, Nick LeBeouf specializes in safely getting you close to the world’s biggest animals.

Nick has worked with the BBC, Discovery Channel, Outside Magazine, MAX, national newspapers, and founded a scuba company in San Diego where he holds 20 specialty diver certifications.


THE BOAT & Kayaks



2018 Adventure Travel Expeditions


2019 Adventure Travel Expeditions


2020 Adventure Travel Expeditions

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