by Nikki Cleveland
Depoe Bay, a small fishing village on the Central Coast, is also known as the Whale Watching Capital of Oregon. The town sits right along Highway 101, on the cliffs above the ocean and the smallest navigable harbor in the world.
Resident gray whales can be spotted off-shore almost year-round, but the town is also a prime location to watch for migrating gray whales as they travel between the warm waters of Mexico in the winter and cold Arctic waters during the spring and summer.
Of course, any trip to Depoe Bay should include a whale watching tour. While you can occasionally spot the whales breaching and blowing from afar, charter tours provide a much more up-close experience. These are some of the best places that offer whale watching tours in Depoe Bay.
Best whale watching tours in Depoe Bay
Whale’s Tail Charters, LLC
Whale’s Tail Charters offers one-hour whale watching tours ($30) and one-and-a-half-hour tours ($40) from March through September. Their fleet of low-to-the-water Zodiac boats hold just six passengers each, so it is more of a personalized experience.
“We take 2-6 people so there’s no overcrowding and no diesel fumes to smell,” They share on their website. “We have 360° viewing, it’s quiet, roomy, and faster than the larger boats so you get to spend more time around the whales.”
Tradewinds Charters not only offers whale watching tours in Depoe Bay, but also fishing trips, Ecology tours, and excursions like weddings and memorials at sea. Their fleet of 10 modern vessels are fully equipped with onboard restrooms, heated cabins, as well as a knowledgable captain and crew.
You can join them for one or two-hour whale watching trips, depending on the time of year. Their one-hour cruises are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and teens, and $10 for juniors 12 and under. The two-hour tours are $35 for adults, $30 for seniors and teens, and $15 for kids 12 & under.
They are located on the north end of the bridge along Highway 101 with their own private dock just below their office. Reservations and more information can be found on their website and Facebook page.
Whale Research EcoExcursions, LLC
Whale Research EcoExcursions is owned and ran by a marine biologist and expert marine naturalist with decades of experience. Their ex-military/navy seal Zodiac boats are ranked #1 in safety, and because they don’t emit diesel fumes, it is much less likely you will experience seasickness.
Tours are offered from July through September. They also offer guided kayaking tours on the Salmon River. Before or after your cruise, swing by the neighboring Whale Bites Cafe for breakfast or lunch.
Dockside Charters, Inc
Dockside Charters offers whale watching tours in Depoe Bay and deep sea fishing for ling cod and rockfish, coho salmon, tuna, offshore halibut and more. Their one-hour and one-and-a-half hour whale watching tours are available throughout the year on larger 50-foot Delta Charter boats.
Their one-hour whale watching cruises are $20 for adults and $10 for kids (12 & under), and one-and-a-half-hour trips are $25 for adults and $12 for kids. For more information, visit their website and Facebook page.
You can also take your own whale watching tour in Depoe Bay on land. Visit the Whale Watching Center downtown for more information on the gray whales, and nearby Boiler Bay Scenic Viewpoint and Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area for more whale sightings.