A summer whale watching trip in San Diego!

Wow! Talk about a fun summer adventure! Today, thanks to Hornblower Cruises and Events, I enjoyed a summer whale watching trip out in the beautiful Pacific Ocean off San Diego!

I and other passengers aboard the Adventure Hornblower cruised out of San Diego Bay and continued many miles west of Point Loma in search of blue whales, the largest animal on planet Earth.

Spotting these enormous mammals, which move through the oceans in a constant pursuit of food, can be a hit or miss proposition, but it was such a sunny, perfect day and the wide ocean was so calm and blue, I didn’t really care what we might happen to discover!

We did see numerous pods of dolphins almost everywhere we turned. They fed and played in the gentle swells nearby, and didn’t seem to mind the big ship full of pointing humans passing overhead.

I took lots of photos, but dolphins break the surface unexpectedly then quickly melt back into the water, so my small camera just managed to get a few decent pics. You have to be there to feel the excitement, not to mention the fresh wind and bright sunshine. It’s an incredible, magical experience!

Had this been a winter whale watching trip, we would likely have seen gray whales as they migrate along the California coast to and from Mexico. During the summer it’s possible to spot a variety of other whales, including blue whales and humpback whales, but these species don’t follow a predictable route of migration.

Our captain took us a good distance out into the open ocean. All hands searched the horizon when we reached the Nine Mile Bank–an underwater mountain range teeming with sea life where blue whales often feed. On our way out we spotted the distant spout of a Fin Whale–the second-largest species on Earth–but were unable to successfully see it up close.

On our way back to San Diego we approached another boat that might have sighted a whale. We turned off our motor and silently drifted in, watching carefully, but we saw only dolphins and a group of feeding gulls and pelicans. The other boat had a drone hovering over the water, but it didn’t seem to find what it was looking for.

As we neared the channel into San Diego Bay, friendly people from the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park gave a short educational presentation, complete with close up photos of blue whales, an example of the filter-like baleen that these huge whales use to collect four tons of tiny krill per day, and a toothy dolphin skull. Kids enjoyed learning about all the cool marine life and had many questions!

I should mention, the summer whale watching trip included a narrated tour of the north part of San Diego Bay, where you always see something new. Including sea lions! It’s just as fun and interesting as a regular harbor cruise.

Because we didn’t spot a whale today, every passenger got a voucher for another free whale watching trip, or a harbor cruise on San Diego Bay. You can bet I’ll use mine!

Find out more about this awesome four hour summer whale watching adventure by visiting Hornblower’s San Diego website here!

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Amazing walk at Scripps Institution of Oceanography!

Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead at La Jolla Shores Drive, just north of Biological Grade. A sign indicates Coastal Trail Access.
Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead at La Jolla Shores Drive, just north of Biological Grade. A sign indicates Coastal Trail Access.

Please join me for a short but absolutely amazing walk.

We’re going to start at the Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead on La Jolla Shores Drive and pass through part of the world-famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and nearby coast. We’ll pause at a spot of historical importance. We’ll encounter some beautiful artwork.

Let’s go!

The Scripps Coastal Meander coincides with a short segment of the California Coastal Trail.
The Scripps Coastal Meander coincides with a short segment of the California Coastal Trail.
Starting down the trail.
Starting down the trail.
Moving through the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. Someone reads a sign ahead.
Moving through the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. Someone reads a sign ahead.
Starting along a raised wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Starting along a raised wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Sign describes the Scripps Coastal Meander, a publicly accessible walking route through the Scripps campus. It is part of the California Coastal Trail.
Sign describes the Scripps Coastal Meander, a publicly accessible walking route through the Scripps campus. It is part of the California Coastal Trail.
A map on the sign shows the California Coastal Trail in relation to the beach, the Scripps Coastal Reserve Biodiversity Trail, Scripps Pier and La Jolla Shores.
A map on the sign shows the California Coastal Trail in relation to the beach, the Scripps Coastal Reserve Biodiversity Trail, Scripps Pier and La Jolla Shores.
Heading down the wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Scripps Pier, and La Jolla Cove in the distance.
Heading down the wooden walkway with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Scripps Pier, and La Jolla Cove in the distance.
A paraglider from the Torrey Pines Gliderport floats in the sky above a campus building.
A paraglider from the Torrey Pines Gliderport floats in the sky above a campus building.
Soaring high above the beautiful coast.
Soaring high above the beautiful coast.
Looking down from the trail at native flora atop the cliffs above the beach. Dike Rock can be seen jutting through the breaking surf.
Looking down from the trail at native flora atop the cliffs above the beach. Dike Rock can be seen jutting through the breaking surf.
Walking along on a beautiful, sunny San Diego day.
Walking along on a beautiful, sunny San Diego day.
A bench waits ahead.
A bench waits ahead.
Bench overlooks the wide blue ocean.
Bench overlooks the wide blue ocean.
Opa's Bench is dedicated to Arnold Krause. His journey began in Germany and ended in San Diego.
Opa’s Bench is dedicated to Arnold Krause. His journey began in Germany and ended in San Diego.
Two small birds on a rope.
Two small birds on a rope.
Continuing on, I passed a student who attends world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Continuing on, I passed a student who attends world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Another sign ahead.
Another sign ahead.
Conserving California's Coastal Treasures. Sign describes Marine Protected Areas. Just offshore is the San Diego-Scripps Coastal SMCA.
Conserving California’s Coastal Treasures. Sign describes Marine Protected Areas. Just offshore is the San Diego-Scripps Coastal SMCA.
Continuing down the path, I see something interesting to the right.
Continuing down the path, I see something interesting to the right.
A marker stands at the oldest known archaeological site in Southern California, occupied by the La Jollan I Indians almost 8000 years ago.
A marker stands at what was the oldest known archaeological site in Southern California–radiocarbon dated in 1962–occupied by the La Jollan I Indians almost 8000 years ago.
Approaching a small grassy park with a sculpture.
Approaching a small grassy park with a sculpture.
The sculpture is Spring Stirring by world famous sculptor Donal Hord, 1948, a gift of Cecil and Ida Green in 1964.
The sculpture is Spring Stirring by world famous sculptor Donal Hord, 1948, a gift of Cecil and Ida Green in 1964.
Spring Stirring, by artist Donal Hord.
Spring Stirring, by artist Donal Hord.
Starting along a narrow walkway around the perimeter of the Judith and Walter Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Munk Laboratory.
Starting along a narrow walkway around the perimeter of the Judith and Walter Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Munk Laboratory.
Looking north up the coast toward Black's Beach and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Looking north up the coast toward Black’s Beach and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Looking southwest at Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, which is used for ocean research by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Looking southwest at Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, which is used for ocean research by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Beyond Scripps Pier and Scripps Beach is La Jolla Shores and the Village of La Jolla.
Beyond Scripps Pier and Scripps Beach is La Jolla Shores and the Village of La Jolla.

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Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Del Mar’s natural beauty, beach from Coaster!

I was careful to sit on the west side of the Coaster yesterday for my trip from San Diego to Encinitas. The very best views can be enjoyed from that side when riding the train through Del Mar.

I thought it would be fun to take photographs of the natural beauty. As we quickly moved through La Jolla out over Los Peñasquitos Lagoon I had my camera ready.

I snapped photographs nonstop as we flew over the marshy lagoon and past Torrey Pines State Beach, then up along the bluff’s edge toward Seagrove Park.

We were moving so fast that the nearby vegetation was a blur. But my small camera was able to capture the distant sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve, the broad Pacific Ocean’s beautiful white surf, people down below on the beach, and even a line of pelicans flying through the blue sky.

I altered these photos a bit, sharpening them and increasing contrast.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Amazing vistas atop Mount Soledad.

This morning I drove to Mount Soledad. A new winter storm is on the way, and the clouds are more dramatic than usual.

Breathtaking vistas open up at the summit of Mount Soledad. Standing beside the cross of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial, I turned slowly about and took it all in.

To the north: La Jolla, Del Mar and the Pacific Ocean. To the northeast: University City. To the east and southeast: the distant foothills and mountains of East County. To the hazy south: tiny downtown, Mission Bay and Point Loma.

In every direction: amazing beauty!

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

An amazing Sunset Seat on the cliffs of Del Mar.

At the southwest corner of Del Mar, high atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean north of Torrey Pines State Beach, you’ll find a special seat. It’s called the Sunset Seat.

The Sunset Seat is a work of public art that was carved in the stump of a dead Torrey pine. The tree had been killed by bark beetles.

In 2015 this amazing public art took form. Inspired designer David Arnold and wood carver Tim Richards created a seat where anybody can sit and look out toward the ocean horizon, with a red-tailed hawk perched near their shoulder.

You can find the Sunset Seat a few steps west of a small parking area beside Camino Del Mar, a short distance north of Carmel Valley Road.

One day I will sit beside the beautiful hawk and watch a sunset.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Los Peñasquitos Lagoon between winter storms.

Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.

This morning, the day after a severe winter storm, I visited Torrey Pines State Beach and the ocean inlet to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Arriving at high tide, I found myself astonished by the incredible power of nature. Turbulent waves were crashing onto the pedestrian walkway under the North Torrey Pines Road bridge.

I spent some time exploring near the state park’s North Parking Lot and its entrance. I then headed north along a path at the edge of sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I took many photographs, striving to capture nature’s awesome power and beauty.

And more winter storms are on the way!

Please read the photo captions to learn a bit more about this special place.

A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday's storm. The power of nature is displayed.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday’s storm. The power of nature is displayed.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
This coastal marsh in San Diego's North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
This coastal marsh in San Diego’s North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Gazing down at powerful Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Gazing down at incoming Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.

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Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Photos of seals, scenery at Children’s Pool.

Harbor seals lie on sunny Children's Pool Beach in La Jolla. The historic Children's Pool is closed to the public during winter and early spring pupping season.
Harbor seals lie in the sun on Children’s Pool Beach. The Children’s Pool is closed to the public during pupping season.

Every so often I have to walk by the water in La Jolla. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Today I headed to The Children’s Pool to enjoy harbor seals, pelicans in flight, the mighty ocean, the rocky shoreline and blue sky. Pupping season has just begun (December 15 through May 15) and so Children’s Pool Beach is closed to the public.

The Children’s Pool was the gift of local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1931. A concrete seawall was built to make the beach safe for public swimming.

Harbor seals began to use the beach in the 1990’s and over time sand has filled the swimming area. There has been a long running legal battle over the use of the beach.

The Children’s Pool also happens to be a popular destination of scuba divers because of nearby reefs.

Today people flock from far and wide to watch the seals from a safe distance.

Sitting on a bench overlooking The Children's Pool, observing the resident colony of harbor seals.
Sitting on a bench overlooking The Children’s Pool, observing the resident colony of harbor seals.
People look toward Children's Pool from the shady green gazebo.
People look toward Children’s Pool from the shady green gazebo.
People along the wall near the lifeguard station. Many tourists now travel to La Jolla just to see the local colony of harbor seals.
People along the wall near the lifeguard station. Many tourists now travel to La Jolla just to see the local colony of harbor seals.
The Children's Pool breakwater was built in 1931. It was a gift to La Jolla by journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
The Children’s Pool breakwater was built in 1931. It was a gift to La Jolla by journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
A colony of harbor seals suns on the sand near the seawall, which is off limits during pupping season.
A colony of harbor seals suns on the sand near the seawall, which like the beach is off limits during pupping season.
The seals move about from time to time. They turn on their sides, raise their heads and hind flippers, and inch forward on their stomachs.
The seals move about from time to time. They turn on their sides, raise their heads and hind flippers, and inch forward on their stomachs.
A lone seal heads to the water's edge by wriggling awkwardly on its belly.
A lone harbor seal heads across the sand to the water’s edge by wriggling awkwardly on its belly.
It swims out to a nearby rock.
It swims out toward a nearby rock.
With difficulty, the harbor seal inches up onto the rock that lies just off the beach. Sea lions are much better climbers.
With difficulty, a harbor seal inches up onto the large rock that lies just off the beach. (Sea lions, which sometimes share the beach, are much better climbers.)
The perfect place for a peaceful nap!
The perfect place for a peaceful nap!
Looking west from the closed Children's Pool toward the broad Pacific Ocean and gently breaking waves.
Looking west from the closed Children’s Pool toward the broad Pacific Ocean and gently breaking waves.
Pelicans fly north. Scripps Pier and the scenic cliffs just south of Torrey Pines lie in the distance.
Pelicans fly north. Scripps Pier and the scenic cliffs just south of Torrey Pines lie in the distance.
The pelicans fly toward Seal Rock and Shell Beach and the rocky shoreline west of La Jolla Cove.
The pelicans fly toward Seal Rock and Shell Beach, and distant jutting rocks west of La Jolla Cove.
Looking west. Perhaps you can see why I love this place.
Looking west. Perhaps you can see why I love this place.
Looking south toward Wipeout Beach.
Looking south toward Wipeout Beach.
Another photo of the colony of harbor seals at The Children's Pool in La Jolla.
Another photo of the colony of harbor seals at The Children’s Pool in La Jolla.
A young harbor seal enjoys a day on the beach.
A young harbor seal enjoys a fine day on the beach.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of fun stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.