Bay Area seniors with weak stomachs and wobbly legs may want to forego whale watching from a boat. Fortunately this time of year there are plenty of on- shore alternatives where you can watch the passing parade of 30 to 40 ton cetaceans without reaching for the Dramamine. December to April is prime time for the 20,000 grey whales that voyage from their southern breeding areas to their artic feeding ones. A considerably smaller number of blue whales travel the same route though generally not as close to shore. About 800 humpback whales do their migrations at the end of summer. In the next few weeks expect to see grey whales from your shoreline perch, especially mothers with their calves who tend to hug the coastline. Bring binoculars.
Point Reyes is where your odds of whale viewing are highest. At Chimney Rock you get the bonus of fields of wildflowers and young elephant seals horsing around on the beach.
Muir Beach in Marin overlooks 948 square nautical miles of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a temporary home to dolphins, seals and porpoises as well as whales.
Point Bonita is just outside the Golden Gate, the site of an old lighthouse. If you’re having trouble spotting these massive mammals, remember to keep an out for spouting.
Montara Point is 25 miles south of the City with a lighthouse that has been in operation since 1875 The spot includes a park and a funky hostel which charges a mere $29 a night.
Pigeon Point is south of Half Moon Bay, about 50 miles down Highway 1. It has a protected cove where you may see frolicking young calves from your clifftop stakeout
New Brighton State Beach in Capitola is the only whale viewing spot we know that has campsites. They’re scattered on the bluff overlooking a beach that is a popular hangout for sea lions, dolphins and pelicans. Reservations for camping required.