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What to Do In San Diego for a Nature and Wildlife Journey

San Diego is a rich with natural diversity. With such a long sandy shoreline and so many warm days each year, getting outside is easy. You don’t even have to get on a boat to see some of San Diego’s most popular residents. If you’re wondering what to do in San Diego during your gut’s trip, try whale and seal watching, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Whale Watching in San Diego

Perhaps the most popular wildlife activity is whale watching in San Diego. This city is one of the best places to view these creatures along the coastline. Clear skies and warm weather make standing along a pier or on a boat waiting for a whale fin to crest fun.

The San Diego gray whale watching season lasts from December until April, coinciding with the gray whale’s 10,000-mile migration from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California. More than 20,000 gray whales make the journey to give birth to their calves. During the summer, an estimated 2,000 blue whales feed off the coast of California.

You can spot the whales from land by taking hikes. Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Cabrillo National Monument, and Torrey Pines State Reserve are popular spots to see them.

There are several tour boats that will get closer to the whales. San Diego Whale Watch, Adventure Rib Rides, and Offshore Blue Adventures are just a few of the highly-rated tour agencies.

Seals and Sea Lions

No, we won’t be recommending places to see the San Diego Seals lacrosse team. But you know it says something about how prolific these animals are when you have a sports team named after them. Seal and sea lion watching in San Diego is easy, free, and very accessible, as these critters sunbath all over coastal beaches, docks and buoys.

One of the best places to view seals is at La Jolla Cove and the Children’s Pool. The pool is made by water that fills the space behind a seawall that dates back to 1932. It became a popular spot for children to swim in, so naturally, the seals liked it, too. You’ll even get a good look at the seals by walking along Coast Boulevard and Coast Boulevard Park. Be aware that the Children’s Pool at the cove is closed from December 15 to May 15 to protect newly-born seal pups. You can also spot seals on amphibious San Diego SEAL Tours.


With so much great shoreline and accessible beaches, San Diego is a great place to snorkel. If you’re wondering what to do in San Diego that’s cheap, snorkeling is the answer. It’s a great, cheap way to experience the beautiful world beneath the ocean. All along the coastline, you’ll find small pools like the ones at La Jolla Cove. Keep a lookout for acorn barnacles, periwinkle snails, limpets, mussels, lined shore crabs and lobsters. You can snorkel at La Jolla Cove and to the caves just to the north of the cove. The equipment is inexpensive, too. At La Jolla Watersports, you can rent a wetsuit for just $9 and a mask for just $5.

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving gets you up close to an even richer diversity of San Diego’s wildlife, from sharks to seals to sponges.

Scuba San Diego hosts a class called Scuba Adventure that offers a great introduction to anyone who is a first-time diver or anyone considering getting their certification. With SD Expeditions, you can even do a cageless shark dive to see blue, mako, and hammerhead sharks. Both companies offer night time diving, too.

The San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park and Ecological Reserve is a popular place to scuba. It stretches 6,000 acres from Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove, north across La Jolla Shores to the end of Torrey Pines State Reserve.

In Wreck Alley, halfway between La Jolla and Point Loma, you’ll find eight ships, including the HCMS Yukon, a Canadian destroyer, and the Ruby E, a 165-foot (50 m) Coast Guard cutter. At Point Loma, you’ll find crabs, lobsters, moray eels, and sponges.

San Diego’s marine life makes this city all the more beautiful. Contact us today today to learn more about whale watching in San Diego and other nature activities, and to book one of our vacation rentals!