For days my friend Jen from Aqua Adventures in San Diego received messages from her friend Duane, that he had been seeing blue whales just of the coast of Newport Beach. Duane is a local kayaker who likes to go out on his surf ski after work. The blue whales had been hanging out close to the beach, often he would spot them within 15 minutes into his trip. We decided to drive up there to check out if we could find them.
Newport Beach has been drawing surfers since early in the 20th century, and is famous for reefs like “the Wedge”. On the right day, with a south swell of the right size and direction, the Wedge can produce huge waves up to 30 feet (9.1 m) high.
I was happy today wasn’t that day. In fact, the ocean was pretty flat. It was warm enough but unfortunately the sun didn’t come out until late, the cool ocean and warm air created the typical overcast weather called the Marine Layer.
We parked our car on the Balboa Peninsula, admiring the pretty houses and amused ourselves choosing which one we would like to buy if we ever won the lottery. We quickly got into our kayaks, and paddled out into the ocean. A bit strange, paddling out like that, without any real direction, not knowing where the whales would be. We tried following the direction the Whale watching cruise ships took, hoping they knew more, but we quickly got distracted: An enormous group of Dolphins crossed our path!
We followed them for a while and quickly found out that the Dolphins found us a lot more fun if we paddled fast. As long as we kept paddling, they would swim right next to us; sometimes less than a meter from our bows. What an amazing experience! I cursed myself for not having a tripod for my camera with me, it is impossible to take pictures while you paddle fast!
For me, this was one of the most amazing experiences in a kayak ever. Jen was pretty cool about it, apparently, they get so many dolphins here, it is all pretty normal! Maybe it is a little bit like seeing seals in the UK or the Netherlands? I’d never seen any seals before, but since I started kayaking, I see seals almost every trip…
No blue whales to be seen anywhere though. Having driven the 2 hours to get here, we didn’t want to leave without having seen them, so a couple of hours later we embarked on one of the whale spotting ships.
The boat set off to about 5 miles out of the coast, and sure enough, not long after we saw a huge blue whale! OK, not as cool as seeing whales while kayaking, but it was still incredible to see the biggest mammals in the world from so close up.
We hung out there for a while, seeing it diving in, then spotting its huge spout minutes later when it came back up. On our way back, the dolphins joined us again, and kept us well entertained! They duck and dove, surfing on our wake and surfing on our bow wave. It is amazing how close to the boat they play.
Almost back in the channel, we spotted a couple of kayakers. We joked around, saying that it was probably Duane, and that a whale could turn up any minute now. We laughed and were astounded to indeed find a whale right behind them!!!
We ended a perfect day with oysters and seafood, while watching some very cheeky Pelicans on the dock.
We made dozens of pictures, but none of them really do justice to the wonder of this day.
What a beautiful world we live in.