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Ocean Life

There are many places where whales, dolphins, whale sharks, stingrays etc. can be seen by a guided boat tour, a snorkel trip or even from the costal line.

Whale watching tours are offered from April to October. 

Tarifa is the capital city of wind. From time to time the Levante is too strong that neither fisher boats nor whale watching boats can leave the harbor. If there is too much fog in the morning whale watching trips are also canceled. Book your trip in advance and confirm a day before.

Dolphins and Pilot Whales

They can be seen throughout the year. Pilot whales are night active diving deep for hunting their prey like squid. At daytime, they rest on the surface of the sea. 

Pilot Whales Tarifa in the Strait of Gibraltar

Orcas

Orcas follow the tuna migration into the Mediterranean Sea and out. They come for the tuna in June and can be spotted until August. The tuna is too fast for them to catch with 90 km/h and orcas are clever. They only appear when the fishermen are out in the sea, and they try to catch their tuna from the hook. Tours are offered in July and August in the morning and last for about 3 hours all other whale watching tours last around 2 hours. 

Orca Baby and mother Strait of Gibraltar - Tarifa

Sperm Whales

They can be spotted from April to August. They appear at the surface for about 8 minutes to breathe before diving again.

Fin Whales

They cross the Strait and can sometimes be spotted. In 2016 firmm had 27 sightings.

Crowds

Peak season in summer. Prices for hotels and apartments increase, and advanced booking is essential. Most of the rental houses are offered from Saturday to Saturday. Spring, September, and October are less busy and less expensive. Anyhow the orca season runs from July to August only. 

Where to Stay in Tarifa

It depends on what you like to experience in this region. If you just come for one day for whale watching it doesn't make sense to stay here. We spend a whole week in this area, therefore, we'd chosen one of the many rental flats. Bookmark the link for the best-rated apartments around Tarifa. Don't miss the gorgeous Bolonia Beach and Dune. The dune is one of the largest shifting dunes in Europe. 

Bolonia Beach close to Tarifa

ES Spain

The West Indian Manatee migrates to Crystal River and the surrounding springs roughly mid-November and stays around the springs until mid-March. Guided tours are offered from November to end of March. You experience most activity during the early morning. If you like to get interactions with manatees book the early morning tour in advance.

The manatees come here during winter time because they get stressed by the cold gulf if the temp goes below 68°F / 20°C. Although they look like to be prepared for cold temperatures their body has not much fat for insulation. The springs have a constant temp of 74°F / 23°C. The reason that they gather around the springs.

During high tide, they move to the Three Sisters Springs, and at low tide, they gather outside in the channel at Idiot’s Delight I and II. Often 400 to 500 manatees can be seen at the springs.

Visiting Three Sisters Springs

If you like to see them in high numbers inside the spring, come during high tide. Tide times Crystal River

It is almost impossible to avoid crowds while swimming with the manatees. Even early morning expect 30 to 40 people in the water. The Three Sisters Springs, however, are tranquil when they open the gate at 8.30.

Weather

During the peak season of the manatees, it can be pretty chilly in the morning. On average it's roughly 50°F / 10°C cold in the early morning. We experienced 28°F / -2°C which happens rarely. It was pretty cold when we got out of the water. Day temps are usually between 58°F / 15°C and 70°F / 21°C. Precipitation occurs year-round with its peak in the summer months. It’s quite hot and muggy in the summer and temps are around 90°F / 32°C.

Top Tip

We highly recommend staying here for a couple of days. Visit the Three Sisters Spring, have a look to one of the many other springs like the Rainbow Springs for swimming, enjoy the manatee encounter. Actually, we planned camping in the Rainbow Springs State Park. Due to the cold night temps of 32°F, we’d booked a room at the Hampton Inn Crystal River last minute. It was just a 5 minutes drive to our manatee tour the next morning. We appreciated having a great breakfast each day.

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The park opens all year at 8 a.m. but closes before sunset to protect the wildlife and to avoid disturbance  (like deer, foxes, bobcats, and owls). Camping is not permitted.

Clearer skies, warmest average temps and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May during the harbor seal pupping season.

Crowds in Summer

This magnificent and popular State Reserve is located close to Carmel on HW 1. Point Lobos is a year-round destination and super busy during summer and especially at weekends. Limited parking within the reserve; 150 cars only. At weekends and especially Sundays in summer it’s advisable to arrive before 9 a.m. or later in the afternoon. Otherwise, you have to line up or park your car outside on the shoulder and walk in.

If possible visit the reserve mid-week. Anyhow, Point Lobos is also much loved by school classes due to the many opportunities to experience and learn about nature and wildlife. The foundation supports schools with transportation and offers adventure programmes for 8 to 12 years old youth in summer which fills up soon.

Weather

It’s a moderate cool coastal climate. The average temperature ranges from about 55 to 65°F / 13-18 °C year-round.  Spring is sunny and cool before the foggy summer season starts with fog until the afternoon. Fog banks emerge from the cold water (around 50 °F / 10°C)  and the warm coastal air to condense into fog.  Fall (September to November) is the sunniest time of the year although evenings are more chilly. In the winter mist and showers occur between November to March.

Point Lobos Foggy in the Summer

Seasonal Highlights
  • Harbor Seal Pupping Season: From March until June you may spot harbor seals giving birth to a puppy at China Cove. It’s amazing that the new-borns start to swim just 20 minutes later. The best months to witness this spectacle are April and May.
  • Southern Sea Otters: They may be spotted offshore in the kelp beds during calm days. On windy days they are more often found in protected coves. They are living in waters with a temp between 35°F and 60°F / 1,5°C up to 15,5°C. This is important for their constant body temp of almost 100 °F / 37°C. They mate and give birth in the sea throughout the year with a peak of pupping from January to March, fewer from August to October.

    Sea Otters at Point Lobos
     
  • Whales: They can be spotted throughout the year. Perfect spots to observe whales are South Point and Sea Lion Point.
    • Grey whales are most commonly seen from late December to January and again from March until early May.
    • Humpbacks are frequently seen from March until December.

      Whales at Point Lobos
       
    • Minke whales are sometimes spotted from January until April. They migrate in larger numbers but due to their smaller seize often missed.
    • Blue whales are sometimes spotted in summer.
    • Orcas: three different species of orcas can be found. The transient orcas feed on mammals, therefore, frequently seen when gray whales migrate with their calves their preferred prey. They can also be spotted at other times of the year hunting seals, porpoise, and dolphins. The resident orcas feed on fish especially salmon and always stay in the same area. Nowadays resident orcas from Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca can be found around Monterey. The offshore orcas are mostly seen during winter feeding on squid, fish and even sharks.
  • Sea Lion: The sea lion population is much smaller in late spring and summer due to migration to the south for mating.
  • Birding: Spring and summer is the nesting season. The bird island trail is great to spot lots of birds in the morning or late afternoon. Two cormorant species can be found year-round; nesting on rocks offshore from March to August. We spotted several birds like the scrub jay and dark-eyed junco.

    Birding at Point Lobos
     
  • Wildflowers: The wildflower season in spring; California Poppies, Douglas Iris, lilac Ceanothus and many more
Diving

A permit is required, and reservations can be made up two months in advance. 15 diving teams always two divers are allowed to dive at Whalers Cove and Bluefish Cove each day. Some caves are accessible in calm seas. Diving map of Point Lobos State Reserve

Diving at Point Lobos

Where to Stay (bookmark the links)

Unfortunately, there isn't any campground or accommodation offered inside the reserve. The best-located hotel is the Hyatt Carmel Highlands with spectacular views. Nearby is the popular town of Carmel with a vast variety of hotels and lodges. An alternative and half an hour drive is Salinas. We'd chosen the Super 8 Salinas where breakfast is included.

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The Orcas usually approach the bay to rub against the pebbled beach in shallow water close to the shoreline, in as little as 1.8 m (6 feet) of water. It can be very close to the beach during high tide. The sea should be smooth and avoid windy days. 

The chance to spot them increase if you overnight at the campground at Bere Point Regional Park and select an ocean view site. The campground is serviced during summer only.

In the evening we spotted Humpback Whales and in the morning Orcas.

Weather/Climate
The precipitation of Vancouver Island's east coast is just 700-800 mm per year. In contrast, the west coast of the island is exposed to moisture-packed winds blowing from the Pacific Ocean and receives plenty of precipitation from October to March. Summers are in general relatively dry.

Spring
Spring is always a great time to visit Vancouver Island. Daily temperatures range from 11-15 ºC. It's a great time for wildlife viewing. The Pacify grey whales are on their route to Alaska, Grizzly and black bears finish their hibernation a looking for food along the shoreline.

Summer
From June through September, Vancouver Island is typically sunny and mild although the temperature at Malcolm Island seldom goes beyond 15-17°C but can reach up to 25°C. 

Fall
In fall you may see a lot of fog especially in the morning which could last until mid-day or afternoon. The temperature is on average around 12°C.

Winter
Vancouver Island enjoys a moderate and mild winter in most regions. This allows outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking in the south-coastal areas even in January.  

CA Canada

When is the best time? May, June, July, August, September and October are the months for whale watching from Boston with great sighthings. Each summer the whales migrate to Massachusetts and back to warmer water when the weather gets cold.

Time of Day

In terms of sightings there is no big difference between mornings or afternoon. Mornings are usually less crowded though.

Weather and Sea

During the months of July, August and September the weather is generally more consistently pleasant. However, the whales even come out in the rain. If sea sickness is an issue for you check the weather forecast first to choose a calm day for whale watching. Marine weather Boston Harbor

US United States

The best period to visit Hong Kong is october to april. The northern summer is the time of the monsoon. Keep in mind that HK is very busy during the Western and Chinese holiday periods.

HK Hong Kong S.A.R., China