Pacifica Is Perfect For Land-Based Whale Watching

Visit Pacifica

Located just 15 minutes south of San Francisco, the beautiful beach-front town of Pacifica is the perfect destination for capturing the southbound journey of migrating gray whales. The voyage starts in October when the gray whales start swimming south from Alaska, passing the California coast from December to January when they are closest to the shore.

Pacifica sets the stage as an ideal viewing post because of the many ocean inlets and its proximity to the route and “playground” of these magnificent creatures. Some of the best Pacifica viewing platforms are from the coastal bluffs of Mori Point, Rockaway Beach trail, Linda Mar State Beach, the Pacifica Pier and Devil’s Slide walking trail.

To ensure a great “whale of an encounter,” enthusiasts will want to make a weekend out of their adventure. While many of California’s coastal towns offer great platforms for whale watching, Pacifica features value-oriented accommodations and is also just a stone’s throw away from San Francisco’s attractions so visitors can round out their itinerary with more conventional outings.

A view of the Pacific Ocean at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica, California, a top whale watching destination
Rockaway Beach (Courtesy of Visit Pacifica)

Pacifica offers six lodging options in the budget to moderate price range and all are within walking distance to Pacifica’s beaches and many of the town’s whale watching venues. Four are located at Rockaway Beach. The largest with 97 guest rooms is the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel, a full-service hotel situated on Rockaway Beach with spacious accommodations, beautiful ocean views, a swimming pool and the upscale Moonraker restaurant. The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Pacifica provides very comfortable accommodations with ocean views and a complimentary hot Express Start Breakfast Bar. Offering a dash of Victorian charm is the pet-friendly Pacifica Motor Inn and adjacent to Nick’s Restaurant is the Sea Breeze Motel, which is very convenient for those looking to dance the night away at Nick’s. Situated across from Linda Mar Beach is another full service hotel called the Pacifica Beach Hotel. Under new ownership, the hotel now includes several remodeled rooms, offering spectacular ocean view rooms, Jacuzzi tubs, indoor swimming pool and the new Peruvian Restaurant, Puerto 27. Further north near Sharp Park is Americas Best Value Inn, which is a short walk from Pacifica Pier and the golf course.

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Sunset over the ocean as viewed from the sandy Gray Whale Cove in Pacifica, California, a top destination for whale watching
Gray Whale Cove (Courtesy of Visit Pacifica)

The natural beauty and unparalleled serenity of Pacifica, California has attracted travelers to this coastal gem for more than 100 years. Located just 15 minutes south of San Francisco, Pacifica feels worlds away but is convenient to some of the most vibrant, international communities on the West Coast. Easily accessible from Highway 1, Pacifica’s rich cultural heritage and bohemian personality make it a unique destination worth discovering.

Pacifica’s ethereal beauty is enhanced by its Mediterranean style weather. Refreshing temperatures range from 15-20 degrees cooler than the central coast, drawing visitors to Pacifica’s shoreline to cool off during the hot summer months with its natural air-conditioning and attractive oceanfront accommodations. Likewise, Pacifica’s equally appealing winter travel season provides a dramatic setting for those interested in off-season values and romantic departures.

Golden poppies in the foreground frame a view of Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, California, one of the best places for whale watching
Linda Mar Beach (Courtesy of Visit Pacifica)

Of the many diversions, Pacifica boasts some of the most breathtaking panoramic vistas atop a wide range of hiking trails and walking adventures along the expansive beaches dotting the destination’s shoreline. Additionally, the destination features a range of recreational options, including surfing, boating, scuba, fishing and paragliding, birding, cycling, golf, tennis, archery and horseback riding. According to the National Marine Sanctuaries of the West Coast, Pacifica is known to be the fourth richest area in the world for marine mammal life.

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Want to read more about Pacifica, California? Check Out “Where to Stay in Pacifica, CA: Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites” and “Places to Play: Pacifica, California

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