Individual 3-Hour Whale Watching Charter Rates

8-15 Guests • No Lodging • Public • Guided


3-Hour Whale Watching

Whether you want a personalized tour or a corporate group package, we can offer you an amazing day on the ocean. You get the opportunity to catch salmon, lingcod, tuna, and rockfish. 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 fishing charter 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.

Notes About the Trip

  • 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, orca, narwhal, and beluga whales. These whales have teeth and breathe through a single blowhole. The second suborder, Mysticeti is 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 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.

The Vessel

The F/V Riptide is a 40' fiberglass hull, equipped with turbo diesel, and state-of-the-art electronics, and is licensed and inspected by the United States Coast Guard. We are located on "H" dock at Pillar Pt. Harbor in El Granada (near Half Moon Bay), California.

What Do You Bring on a Fishing Charter?

The most important part of fishing is being prepared. So be sure to bring the following items with you on your fishing charter:

  • Weather Protection - Items such as sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, hats, and waterproof clothing are a must on all fishing trips but especially on large boat charters.

  • Clothing - Layers are the best way to go when packing for a fishing trip. That means you should bring a windbreaker jacket, shorts, a lightweight shirt, gloves, light-colored clothing, and non-slip shoes.

  • Pharmaceuticals - If you’ve never been on the water before, bring sea sickness medication along with bug spray and hand sanitizer.

  • Storage - A backpack is a great way to keep everything together. Also bring a cooler, a drinking bottle, and a waterproof bag for electronics.

  • Additional Essentials - Remember to pack a camera, towel, your phone, and your personal ID.

“Captain Smitty and Deckhands Lee and Mike are the best always giving 100% making sure people go home with memories and limits of fish. they strive hard for what they do.” - Randall K

The base price is per individual for a 3-hour Whale Watching Tour. Make it a Full Day tour for an additional fee per person. Must have a minimum of 8 people on the tour for the 3-hour tour and a minimum of 10 for the full-day tour. Maximum is 12 during the week, and 15 on the weekend!

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Full-Day Charter


Your Host

William's Trip

William S

Serving Half Moon Bay & The Greater San Francisco Bay Area

from $75/Day

Base Price

$75.00 Per Person Per Day


$40.00 Per Person


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

INDIVIDUAL RATES DO NOT INCLUDE LICENSE OR TACKLE - Rod/Tackle kit rental as well as One Day License is available for additional fees at the time of the charter

  • We reserve 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.

  • Balance is due on the date of the trip.

  • 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 a parent or legal guardian.

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