Full Day Whale Watching Tour

10-15 Guests • No Lodging • Public • Guided


Whale Watching for Beginners & Individuals

WEEKDAY Charters include up to 12 passengers. WEEKEND charters include up to 15!

Whether you want a personalized tour or a corporate group package, we can offer you an amazing day on the ocean. You get to ride the waves with Capt. Smitty, who has been a licensed captain for 37 years. Experiencing the taste of salt in the air, the sun on your face, and the splash of fish waiting to be caught. If you want to reserve a Whale Watching Tour near San Francisco, CA, make a reservation with us, and we can set off for a day of fun.

Our Whale Watching and Nature Trips

We live in a unique part of the world where Mother Nature provides us with abundant bird and sea life. From the RIPTIDE you can watch Whales and Sea Otters and observe the many and varied forms of bird life that both live here and migrate through our part of the Pacific. Call and we will help you design your own nature trip.

You can experience the awesome, big, and exciting fun of whales and the ocean's natural splendor aboard the Riptide!

Want to get up close and personal with some of our famous California Sea Lions we can get you there.

Capt. Smitty’s Notebook

Here’s some general information and vocabulary about the animals and birds you’ll see during a nature trip with us.

  • GRAY WHALES - migrate through the bay area from around Christmas through May.

  • HUMPBACK WHALES - are present off the shore of the bay area all year around

  • BLUE WHALES - are generally present offshore and we encounter them from early summer through fall

Some of the marine mammals in our local habitat are sea otters, whales, dolphins, and sea lions. The San Mateo coast is a special place to be able to view these animals in their natural habitat.

Although whales appear to look like fish, they are actually mammals. Whales are members of the scientific order of Cetacea and live in social groups. Distinguishing features of the order Cetacea (including whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are two front flippers and uniquely shaped tails with horizontal extensions, called flukes. It is this tail that provides the necessary power for these large animals to be able to swim so gracefully.

Within the order Cetacea there are two suborders. The Odontoceti are toothed whales and this suborder includes dolphins, porpoises, the sperm whale, orcas, narwhal, and beluga whales. These whales have teeth and breathe through a single blowhole. The second suborder, Mysticeti are baleen whales and includes the blue, gray, and humpback whales (as well as others not found along our coast). The baleen whale does not have teeth, instead, they have rows of baleen throat pleats in the upper jaw which function to filter out and trap food. Baleen whales breathe through a pair of blowholes.

Like other mammals, whales are warm-blooded, nurse their young, and breathe air through their lungs. It is this need to come to the surface to breathe that affords us the opportunity to observe them. The whale has a "blowhole" located on the top of its head. This is similar to the human nostril and this is how the whale inhales and exhales air. Baby whales are borne underwater. The mother pushes the baby up to the surface right away so that the baby can get the first breath of air. There are more than 75 different kinds of whales. The mightiest is the Blue Whale. It is believed that this is the largest animal to ever live on earth – bigger even than the dinosaur. There are occasional sightings of Blue Whales along our coastline.

Breaching is what whales do when they shoot out of the water like a rocket and then fall back into the ocean with a big splash. This may be done for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it is a signal to other whales; perhaps it is playful, perhaps it is to shake off small sea animals. Whales have barnacles attached to them that cannot be shaken off so easily.

The fluke is the end portion of the whale's tail. The Humpback Whale's fluke has unique patterns that serve as identifiers of individual animals similar to a fingerprint in a human being.

Spyhopping is what a whale does by poking its head out of the water. Maybe they do this to see what is happening out of the water or to see what boats are in the area today!

How do whales communicate? It is believed that whales use a series of squeaks, clicks, and whistles. You can buy recordings of whale sounds that are called "songs". Scientific research continues to explore the way and why of how whales communicate.

Along the San Mateo Coast, we primarily see the Gray Whale and the Humpback Whale.

Gray Whales can grow to a very large size with males averaging 40 ft. and females 42 ft. The Gray Whale is generally dark gray in color with mottling patterns of white patches that are used by scientists to identify individual animals. The Gray Whale migrates along our coastline each year between Baja California and the Arctic. This migration places the Gray Whale in our area usually between December through March.

Humpback Whales have very long flippers. Males average 48 ft. in length and females are usually somewhat longer. Humpbacks are almost black in color with white along their flippers and undersides. The tail flukes have their own unique pattern of white. Humpbacks swim in pods of three or four as they migrate. In recent years, Humpback Whales have been seen with greater frequency in our area. It is believed that some of the Humpback Whales are making this area a semi-permanent home which enhances the possibility of observing the Humpback Whale during your whale-watching adventure.

Dolphins are sometimes seen swimming with the whales. Dolphins are the smallest of the Cetaceans. Dolphins are very playful and they like to swim near boats riding in the wave that the boat makes.

“Our whale-watching trip was one of the largest highlights of our trip to San Francisco. Thanks for letting us take the charter trip…We will recommend you to any of our friends that are contemplating a trip to that region. Here are a few of the pictures that we took from the boat.” - Judi M.

The base price is for a WEEKDAY 3-hour Whale Watching Tour for up to 12 passengers. Make it a WEEKEND Tour for up to 15 passengers for an additional fee. Make it a Full-Day Charter for an additional fee.

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Weekend - Up to 15 Passenger Charter


WEEKDAY - Full-Day Charter - Up to 12 Passengers


Your Host

William's Trip

William S

Serving Half Moon Bay & The Greater San Francisco Bay Area

from $905/Day

Base Price

$905.00 Per Day








Pay later options are only available for trips that start more than 30 days from today.

Total Payment


Please note that there is a 50% non-refundable deposit included with your booking fee. In case of cancellation, and in accordance with the Host's cancellation policy, the remaining 50% may be returned to you or applied towards rescheduling a future trip.


  • Experienced Local License Captain & Guide
  • Rod & Tackle Rental Available
  • 40' Fiberglass Boat w/ Turbo Diesel
  • Snacks and Drinks can be Provided



Gear List

  • Weather Appropriate Waterproof Fishing Attire
  • Sunscreen, Lip Balm, Sunglasses
  • Sea Sickness Meds if Needed
  • Bug Spray

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Rules & Guidelines


  • Driving from the East follow Hwy. 92 West to Half Moon Bay. At Hwy. 1 turn right and travel North approximately 4 miles to Capistrano Road. Turn left at the light and take the next left into Pillar Point Harbor.

  • Driving from the North, take Hwy 1 South through Pacifica and past Devil's Slide. Just beyond the Half Moon Bay airstrip, turn right at the light at Capistrano Road and take the first left into Pillar Point Harbor.

  • At the harbor, you may drive out onto Johnson's Pier to H-Dock to drop off passengers and then return to the parking lot where you can park all day for free.

  • We are located on your left at the base of the ramp at H-Dock Berth 1

Minimum of 10 people required for open loads

  • The host reserves the right to cancel or change trips.

  • Trips may be canceled due to insufficient sign-ups.

  • Deposit returns will be made by check and mailed.

  • Cancellation of reservations requires 72 hours for groups of 4 or less. For groups of 5 or more 10 days.

  • A 50% deposit is required.

  • Charter cancellations require 10 days

  • Cancellations require verbal confirmation and cancellation id#

  • Cancellation due to weather is at the discretion of the Captain only

  • Children must be at least 7 years of age and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

  • School groups/scout groups/private parties - children must have written permission from parent or legal guardian.

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