For spring break this year, we had family in town from Europe. We wanted to have time in the valley, but I also wanted us to get away for a few days so we could all have a nice rest. I rented a house on the coast for a few nights and planned a few activities for us to show off the very best things about our state. With nature being very helpful this time of year, it got pretty exciting and wonderful!
At our son’s school auction we won a package of different activities for the coast and and southern Oregon. One of the activities was 2 tickets for a 2-hour boat tour to go out whale watching. Even though I have lived here all of my life, and I have watched the whales from the shore, I have never been out on a boat to look for them and had always wanted to.
We pulled into Newport and stopped in at Marine Discovery Tours to make our reservations. The folks at the reservations desk were some of the nicest folks around and were able to get us on a tour at a time that worked for everyone. We found the prices to be quite reasonable for a tour and everything they offer during the tour: $36/adult or teen, $34/senior, $20/kid (4-12), and 0-3 were free. They have 2 tours available: their main one where they go out to the sea looking for whales happens when weather is good. The other takes place when weather is foul and includes a tour of Yaquina Bay and up the river.
Capt. Don, a former commercial fisherman, pilots the Discovery, a 65′ cruiser. He joins a naturalist in entertaining and educating the passengers on board. I would say, other than seeing the whales, these two were a major highlight to this tour. The Captain tells you all about fishing boats moored at port and the fishing season and has a bird’s eye view to spot various wildlife. The naturalist gives you lessons and information while leading activities. Anyone who wants to, can have a chance at learning how to “drive” the boat as well!
The vessel itself is very comfortable. There is a place to sit inside where it is warm and dry in case of weather, there are several viewing decks for you to choose from, and there are warm drinks and a head as well!
Before we left Yaquina Bay, and after our safety talk, we started our first activities. Volunteers threw in buoys and dropped crab pots for us to come back and check later. We then headed out past the jetties into our powerful Pacific to find whales. We got super lucky and within 5 minutes of clearing the jetties saw spouting. We went to have a closer look. Federal regulations say boats must stay 100 feet from the last spot the whale was spotted, so we stopped and sat and watched as 3 California Grey Whales “played” (they kept it PG for the smaller sailors) right in front of us. Everyone was mesmerized and we watched them for nearly an hour. We saw flippers and fins and noses and spouting. We were close enough to see the barnacles growing on their backs as we drifted along. It was awesome!
When it was time to head back into the bay, the naturalist lead more talks discussing plankton and volunteers were able to collect samples with a special net. The hands on aspect of it all was fantastic! We also had everyone pitch in to hoist up the crab pots so she could teach us about sexing crab and explaining the different varieties who live in the area. Not to worry, no crab were harmed in an effort to educate us (they were all thrown back)! We got some pretty awesome pictures and our guy learned how to hold them and not get pinched so when we go crabbing this summer, he knows exactly what to do!
We came away from our tour feeling exhilarated and excited about everything. If we hadn’t seen the whales, the Captain and our naturalist would have kept us entertained and it still would have been a great trip!
I highly recommend Marine Discovery Tours if you are looking to do some whale watching or even if you just want a fun floating adventure! This was a high point for our visitor for sure and fullfilled a life long dream! Check them out!
Located in the Historic Bayfront in Newport at the Anchor Pier