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Whale watching season in full swing, boosting business on the Central Coast

Posted at 3:02 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 18:02:57-04

July is the heart of whale watching season. Up in Morro Bay, the tourism industry is seeing a boom this year.

“Whales, whales, whales, gotta love them,” Kevin Winfield beamed. Winfield owns Sub Sea Tours, found along the Embarcadero. This is the strong part of the season for adventure tour companies.

Visitors from around the world will take a stop on the Central Coast for a glimpse of singers of the sea.

On a socked-in morning in the sleepy town, a dozen tourists climbed aboard Winfield’s Freedom boat, hoping to catch a glimpse of the roughly 300 humpback whales feeding off the Central Coast this summer, another banner year.

“There’s been a steady increase in the whales,” Winfield said. “I think their population has been growing 3 percent per year for the past 20 years. There are a lot more whales around since when I showed up here in 1990.”

“That’s what makes it so fascinating. Every day is different. Every trip is different,” Tristen Joy said, boat captain and marine naturalist.


She says the adventure-tour industry is breaking through with more companies looking to start a business, even splitting time using their boats for fishing and tours. 2019 has proven to be another strong year, a benefit for the local economy.

“It’s definitely, eco-tours and adventure tours is a huge growing industry,” Joy said. “Especially here in Morro Bay as more and more people find out about us. They learn that you can see whales year-round. We run whale watching trips all year round.”

While rare, there is a chance the whales will be shy and hide behind the dark ocean curtain. But more often than not, you end up with some pretty stunning views.


“So we had plenty of scenes where there were whales – the humpbacks, the sea lions, the birds all feeding together in these big groups,” Joy said. “Lots of lunges and they’d break the surface of the water in dramatic fashion.”

Whales are active in the mornings and afternoons. If you experience motion sickness, check the wave forecast here before heading out.