Gray Whale Watching & Oregon Spring Break!

Gray whale along the shoreline.
A Gray Whale along the Northern Oregon coast. (photo from Coast Explorer Magazine).

Well-timed Big Mammals, well-timed!

Just as Oregon families head to the beach for spring break fun, hundreds of gray whales will be visible traveling north along the coastline.

One of Oregon’s two designated Whale Watching weeks falls March 23-March 31. Each day, coastal visitors should be able to spot hundreds of gray whales.  That’s because it’s the start of a great migration, which runs now through June. Twenty thousand whales will pass along the shoreline making their way home to Alaska.   They’re returning from winter in the lagoons of Baja California where mamma whales fattened up and welcomed their newborns.

Among the best places to watch for whales are from beach front balconies, like those at Tolovana Inn.

Whale watching tips.

Whales are spotted when they rise to the surface and spout a plume of mist and vapor that can reach up to 15 feet in the air. Calm days are best for whale watching, as the spout can linger in the air for up to five seconds when there is little wind. Seas without white-capped waves make whale spotting easier. And, early daylight from a low angle that illuminates the lingering spout also helps.

With your binoculars, keep an eye out for a spout. Once you have it spotted, just raise your binoculars to where it was and keep looking.

Whales typically spout three to five times, about 15-30 seconds apart, before making a deep dive of up to six minutes long.

Once spotted, keep their direction of travel in mind. Then, you will have it down in no time.

Getting up to look out over the horizon is critical. Therefore, another good spot is from nearby Ecola State Park, where “Whale Spoken Here”  volunteers can point out the gentle giants and answer your questions. Sure, your kids might learn something during their break from school, but it’s fun stuff and there are no tests!

Tolovana Inn is a spring break favorite for families, big or small. Just a few easy steps to the sand, our roomy oceanfront suites feature cozy fireplaces and private balconies with amazing views. And when its time to unwind, kids can play in the indoor salt water pool while parents relax nearby in the sauna or spa.

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