Helgren's Sportfishing Trips
315 Harbor Drive South, Oceanside
Whale-watch cruises run from December through March. Most are 3/4 day runs, 1/2 day runs, and twilight trips, though Helgren's also books multiday custom charters. The boats go five miles out of the harbor, heading south toward the pier, and the whales to watch for are 40-foot-long, 30-ton gray whales who pass near the shore on their annual migration. "There's usually at least one spotted," says a sales clerk, "and sometimes three or four or a mother with her babies." Cost varies according to season and demand and can run from $15 to as little as $8 per person with groups of 25 or more passengers. Helgren's also has a fish and tackle store, which handles everything from fishing licenses to gear and boat rentals.