Harbor Breeze Cruises Whale Watching + Aquarium of the Pacific

Whale Watching in Southern California can be enjoyed year round. Depending on the migrating season, we can spot them in the waters off the shores of California, however, it is most exciting when we can get as close as possible in their natural environment (by boat). In Orange County, we have several ports to choose from. What makes the one out of Long Beach uniquely different is that they have a partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific. Not only are the crewmen at Harbor Breeze Cruises (HBC) experienced and professional, they have ocean experts from the Aquarium to help identify the sea animals. Plus their cruise boats are fairly new with stadium seating (everyone gets a view), and they’re super fast!

Harbor Breeze Cruises

The whale watching business started in Southern California, because of the high concentration of diverse sea animals that inhabit the area. Some examples of sea mammals they have seen during their trips are Humpback Whales, Killer Whales (Orcas), Blue Whales, Grey Whales, Minke Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins, Seals… and that’s just to name a few! They can’t always guarantee what we will encounter, but their staff make it fun and informative as well as kept us engaged. We have gone whale watching with them several times, and we always have a great time. You never really know what you will see, but when it happens (flukes, breaching, or blows), it is magical. You can see my pictures from various trips below.

Aquarium Experts on Every Trip

The largest animal to ever have lived on Earth are the blue whale. There are an estimated 2,000 blue whales in the Southern California region. The second largest whale, the fin whale, has also been spotted of the coast of Long Beach. The Aquarium wants to educate the public about the conservation issues regarding these endangered species. Harbor Breeze Cruises and the Aquarium of the Pacific have begun their blue whale watch season with trips offered daily at noon and 3:30 pm out of Long Beach and San Pedro. Their specialized catamarans not only allow guests to witness these animals in their natural habitat, they help Aquarium staff members conduct the whale photo ID program.
Los Angeles Lighthouse
Los Angeles Lighthouse
Queen Mary
Queen Mary

What to Pack/Tips

  • Water & Snacks
  • Sunblock or sunscreen
  • Hats for shade (Caution: Be careful because they tend to fly away. Maybe take them off when boat is moving?)
  • Dress in layers (it gets cold when the boat is moving at high speeds)
  • Zoom Camera Lens for DSLR’s
  • Paper towels, plastic bags, and sea sick medicine (in case you get sick).

The cruise is about 2 to 2.5 hours. There are seating both inside and outside. There are pros and cons for both, but people are constantly moving aboard the ship. I’ve seen people lose their expensive sunglasses looking down at the water. Hats although a great idea for shade, can get blown away. It gets really cold when the vessel is moving at top speeds. Dressing in layers is best even though it is very hot outside. Maybe carry everyone’s jackets in backpacks. You can also go back and stay inside the cabin. If you easily get motion sickness, I recommend standing outside toward the back. The fresh air really helps!

Visit the Aquarium!

Before or after your excursion with Harbor Breeze Cruises, visit the Aquarium of the Pacific which is located next door. Make it an all day event. We went on a two hour boat ride, had lunch, then visited the aquarium in mostly air conditioning. It is also located at The Pike where there are lots of dining options. There is also a restaurant inside the aquarium on the second floor called Cafe Scuba. It is casual, family-friendly, and cafeteria style. My favorite thing to do at the aquarium is visit the jellies, and walk through the Soft Coral Tunnel, and my boys like to visit the sea otters and the shark exhibit. The penguins are also really cute to watch. For more information, please visit their website.

Harbor Breeze Cruises

Harbor Breeze Corp
100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2
Long Beach, CA, 90802

Aquarium of the Pacific

100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA
(562) 590-3100



Designed by Nic de Waal of New Zealand’s Teknicraft Design and built by All American Marine in Bellingham, Washington, the Triumphant features Environmental Protection Agency Tier II-compliant engines and consumes 30 to 40 percent less fuel than conventional passenger vessels of similar size and speed. The high-efficiency hull design features a hydrofoil wing lifting system. The new specialized high-speed 150-passenger, 83-foot M/V Triumphant was christened on July 17, 2013. Here are some cool features:

  • wrap-around exterior walkway on the main deck is wheelchair accessible,
  • the bow of the boat is constructed with tiered stadium-style padded seating,
  • equipped with a snack bar and serving area,
  • sound system,
  • dance floor, and
  • a programmable LED lighting display in the cabin and on the exterior of the vessel.


The new custom-made state-of-the-art, high-tech power catamaran, the La Espada, is the newest high tech, foil-assist craft in Southern California. It is located in Long Beach next to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Designed to view wildlife in the water. The M/V La Espada was designed by Nic de Waal of New Zealand’s Teknicraft Design and built by All American Marine in Bellingham, Washington. It is available for whale watching, harbor tours, and charters. Vessel features:

  • 83 feet long.
  • Tiered stadium style seating for unimpaired viewing on the front.
  • Upscale decor with stylish interior and exterior seating and color changing LED Lights.
  • Environmentally friendly with EPA Tier III compliant engines, International Intersleek bottom paint and zero discharge.
  • High-efficiency hull design featuring a hydrofoil wing lifting system and light-weight Ayres panels.
  • Consumes 30-40% less fuel than conventional standard passenger vessels of similar size and speed.
  • Low noise signature due to the seawater muffled exhaust systems.
  • Excess capacity on the lift rafts and low threshold door sills ensuring safety is paramount.
  • Handicap accessible. Enhanced Sound System.

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