Condor Express - SEA Landing
301 W. Cabrillo Blvd.
Santa Barbara, CA  93101

(805) 882-0088 (Phone)   |   (888) 779-4253 (Toll Free)   |   (805) 965-0942 (Fax)
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Year Founded:
    1973
Description:
   This all-new, 75 foot, high-speed catamaran is the most comfortable & advanced vessel on the west coast, in the premier Whale Watching & Party/Dinner Cruise venue in California. Crew members are experienced naturalists. Come ride with the experts.
    The Santa Barbara Channel is home to over 30 different species of whales, dolphins, and seals and sealions that visit throughout the year, making these waters some of the most consistent locations found anywhere to view a variety of marine mammals. The Discovery Channel's "Wonders of our National Parks" highlighted the outstanding abundance of marine life in the Santa Barbara Channel and named it "One of the 10 Best Places in the WORLD to View Wildlife."
    From May through November (summer season) our cruising grounds include the nutrient rich waters around Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands. It's this area that is generally considered to contain one of the world's highest concentration of feeding blue whales and humpback whales in the world! In the winter and spring months we visit with the California gray whale herd as it passes by on both their Southern and Northern migration.
    The CONDOR EXPRESS is available for private charters for those who wish to book the entire vessel for any type of function or event, including birthdays, weddings, fundraisers, anniversaries, or a sunset cruise. Groups can be as small as 10 people or up to 149 persons. The CONDOR EXPRESS is just what your group needs for that perfect experience on the water. Its large, luxuriously teak paneled, walk through cabin offers comfortable booth seating for up to 68 people! A complete galley, cocktail bar, buffet hot table and salad bar. And catering is always available from light snacks and hors d'oeuvres to full dinners. We also offer regularly-scheduled Open Party Cocktail/Sunset Cruises along the coast, as well as Adventure Cruises such as Pelagic Bird Trips, Island Kayaking, and much more throughout the year. The CONDOR EXPRESS is also the perfect platform for educational and research trips, as well as marine-oriented film work. It has the speed and stability to work comfortably anywhere your research needs take you, and is well equipped with state of the art navigational equipment, a large working deck, and the ability to work underwater equipment.
Activities Available:
    Birding,  Cruises,  Kayaking,  Tours,  Whale Watching,  Wildlife Tours,  


 
Business Hours:
    Summer: 24/7 -- Winter: 6 am - 7 pm
Location Type:
    Boat
Payment Accepted:
    Cash,   MasterCard,   Visa,  Debit Card,  
Languages Spoken:
    English,  
General Business Classification:
    Leisure & Recreation
    Categories:
    Bird Watching
    Boat Charters
    Boat Charters
    Deep-Sea Fishing
    Kayaking & Canoeing
    Tours
    Whale Watching
    Whale Watching
    Whale Watching
    Wildlife Tours

Admittance:
    During normal business hours.
Indoor/Outdoor:
    Outdoor Location
Handicapped Accessible?
    Yes
Smoking?
    Some restrictions
Cell Phones & Pagers?
    Permitted
Cameras/Recording Equip.?
    Permitted
Pets Allowed?
    No
Gift Certificates?
    Available for Sale
Classes Offered?
    Yes.
 Recent Buzzes!!
8/29/14 - Humpbacks and Dolphins on a Fine Day
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We ran southeast riding the swells from the wind blowing way out to the west end of the Santa Barbara Channel. Before long Captains Dave and Eric had located a big whale and a smaller whale. I know this sounds like yesterday's report, but these were two different and seemingly unrelated humpbacks. They had fairly long to medium down times and came up next to the boat a couple of times and thrilled the whale watchers on the Condor Express. What a magnificent sight...sunny, warm breezes, clear water and a whale a few dozen yards away. Great stuff. Long beaked common dolphins were, again, all around, all day....perhaps as many as 2,000 or more total. And there was another humpback a few miles to the northeast of our location but we did not get that far. California sea lions cavorted here and there, and there were several very large flocks of black vented shearwaters sitting on the water en masse. This is certainly a prime ticket for escaping the mainland and any woes you may have.
8/28/14 - Juvenile humpback whale is Energizer Bunny in disguise !
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It was a bright and sunny day. There was a breeze near Santa Barbara Harbor and it got fresher as we made our way out into the Santa Barbara Channel. Long beaked common dolphins were all around, mostly in small pods. A group of high school students were among the many passengers from all over the world, and some of the students cheered every time we saw another #dolphin. It was shaping up to be a high energy day. We even spotted a nice sized sunfish or Mola mola, even though the Velella seem to be in decline. After passing through several common dolphin pods not far off the beach, Captain Dave steered a course offshore and before long his keen eyesight had located two spouts in the distance. There was on tall spout and one short spout. Upon arriving on the scene it was soon obvious that we were watching a mother humpback whale and her calf. The little calf said hello and greeted the Condor Express with a nice tail throw. I don't know if this humpback calf got a hold of some extremely rich mother's milk, or a school of high sugar content anchovies, or if it was simply joie de vivre, but it proceeded to breach non stop for about an hour an a half. After that, it moved on to slapping its white-on-both-sides pectoral fins and rolling around for another 45 minutes. Another possibility for all this activity might have been the wind. The crew and I have noticed humpbacks getting active when the wind picks up as it often does in the afternoon. The more wind, the higher they leap...in our limited non-scientific survey based on personal observations. For all we know the feeling of the strong breeze all over their airborne massive bodies might get them excited. I was excited watching this and so was everyone on the boat. One high school student actually did a NASA-style countdown "5-4-3-2-1" and the whale leaped. That's how regular and predictable the calf's behavior was there for a while.
8/27/14 - Make your reservations ..... Santa Barbara Waterfront History Cruise -- Sunday, September 14
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Join the Condor Express on a Sunday afternoon and learn abou the intriguing waterfront and coastline landmarks that have contributed to Santa Barbara's color and historical past. Erin Graffy, historian and author of numerous books on Santa Barbara history (including the coffee table book "Santa Barbara Yacht Club: The Waterfront history") will entertain and delight us with a fascinating history of our coast from Hope ranch to Summerland.
As the Condor Express takes you on a comfortable and leisurely late-afternoon cruise along our picturesque waterfront and historical landmarks, you will learn: ..... Where is Santa Barbara's Great White Way, and why does it look that way? ..... When was Stearn's Wharf built and how did it transform Santa Barbara? ..... How did Santa Barbara become the center for Rum Runners during Prohibition, and where did bootleggers land that liquor? ..... Who was Hughette Clark -- the mysterious heiress who recently died at the age of 104? Where is her waterfront estate, and what were her special connections with Santa Barbara?
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a full-service no-host bar will add to your cruise enjoyment.
Tickets are just $40 and are available by calling 963-3564 or go to www.condorexpress.com / for reservations or for more information.
Presented by ... Condor Express - SEA Landing
Venue ... Condor Express - SEA Landing  Website
8/27/14 - Bait ball on the surface !
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A trip to the northeastern Santa Barbara Channel under clear sunny skies, clear blue water, and very flat sea conditions, results in a great abundance of marine mammals. Long beaked common dolphins were everywhere, perhaps 2,500 total. The clear water gave great looks at the agility and socializing of this marvelous species. Perhaps someday there will be a technology that enables us to identify individual common dolphins and their pods. Now THAT would be a game changer! Way out to nearly mid-Channel we located a large bait ball on the surface. California sea lions were attacking from below and sent waves of northern anchovies leaping out of the surface. Black vented shearwaters made continuous dives into the massive school, and elegant terns squawk and then dove into the caldron. Not far from the bait ball we found tall spouts. It turned out to be one large and one even larger humpback whale. The two were separated by more than a half mile before they came together and quickly got on the same breathing cycle. It was not long before the two, working side by side, found the bait ball and lunged dramatically straight up and down....surface lunge feeding ! Both whales showed their flukes regularly and their down times averaged only 5 minutes. The Velella velella population continues to be large, for those of you who have been following it. It was a "national geographic" kind of day. I'll post up today's photographs asap.  Website
8/25/14 - Close looks in crystal blue water
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Captain Eric and his man on the binoculars, Augie, drained every mammal out of the northeastern Santa Barbara Channel today. The action got started right away on the inside of the rigs (C, B, A, Hillhouse) with several nice pods of long beaked common dolphins and then one great humpback whale. After going about its "business" for a while, the #whale finally surfaced twice in a row very close to the Condor Express and ran up the port side very closely. Magnificent views of the dolphin herds and this friendly whale were to be had in the crystal blue water. It is rare, as a photographer, to be able to see the whole entire humpback whale beneath the surface in one frame (albeit a wide angle lens). This first whale also fluked up for us a bunch of times.
Onward we went on a southeasterly course heading, where we saw mountainous splashes at least 6 miles ahead...that's how great the visibility was. Upon arriving on the scene we located a very large humpback whale that had long down times, but in between logged on the surface and also was regular in kicking up its flukes high in the air. Throughout the day we had numerous Velella velella again, more so on the inside than the outside. I keep hoping to photograph one that has a predatory nudibranch Glaucus marginatus on it.
The wonderful long streak of fantastic weather and sea conditions continued today and just being out at sea on a day like this is enormously special.   Website
8/23/14 - Late summer, fantastic conditions, great wildlife !
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The ocean surface was like a mirror most of the day and the morning stratus burned off around noon. We ran the northeast Santa Barbara Channel up and down and found some amazing wildlife. Long beaked common dolphins were once again everywhere and a very crude estimate of their abundance might be around 3,500. Minke whales were very showy and although we easily watched 5 or 6 within close visual range, there were at least that many more all around the zone. Yesterday we photographed one Minke whale with a saw tooth trailing edge to its dorsal fin. We are on the lookout for this individual now that we know how to recognize it clearly. California sea lions were also very abundant and everywhere we roamed. The purple sailor jellies, Velella velella, were far more abundant today, and several were devoured right before our eyes by one of at least 7 closely watched ocean sunfish, Mola mola. There are photos of all this including Mola eating Velella, and I'll get them posted no later than Sunday. We watched two humpback whales, a fairly shy whale (i.e., long down times) and then, further south, a very cooperative small humpback. This one surfaced close to the Condor Express a few times and was a lot of fun to watch. Seabirds included a few very large congregations of Brandt's cormorants, a few black vented shearwaters, lots of elegant terns, and several small flocks of red necked phalaropes. Wow, what a great week this has been.  Website
8/21/14 - Hawaiian Cruise Party on the Condor Express ... Saturday, September 6th
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Saturday September 6 Board the Condor Express for their annual Hawaiian Aloha Cruise Joanie Collins returns from the Islands with special guests including Eric Rozet Tickets are $30 advanced $35 day of cruise Tickets available at Sea Landing 805 963-3564 or visit condorexpress.com/Specialty Cruises  Website
8/21/14 - A great day in the land of the mammals
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It was all about long beaked common dolphins everywhere we roamed around the northeast Santa Barbara Channel. Captain Dave estimated well over 3,000, and there were scads of little calves in the mix. One was so small Dave commented that it was about the same size as the black vented shearwaters that were buzzing around the herds. So after watching these little mammals mixed with a lot of California sea lions, on a sunny clear day without a hint of stratus, it was 2nd Captain Eric's sharp eyes (and binoculars) that eventually put us on the humpback whales. We watched 3 humpbacks today and had great looks at the two Eric spotted. In fact one of the two surfaced within a few yards of the Condor Express on two separate occasions and, after the initial shock, gave extremely close looks to all the #whale fans on board. Is this Fall weather and local mammals wonderful or what ! There were a few more Velella velella jellies today than earlier in the week.  Website
8/20/14 - Another Top Notch Trip + Dolphins
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The little west swell from yesterday pretty much died down and the light morning breeze and stratus layer soon gave way to partly sunny skies and near flat glass conditions. Most of the early portions of the trip was spent playing with the long beaked common dolphins which were in small pods and groups of less than a dozen all over the northeastern Santa Barbara Channel. Again we saw an inordinate number of very very small calves with their mothers. There was a lot of "upside down" socialization going on too.
Late into the morning the eagle eyes of Captain Dave spotted a spout in the distance and guess who? that's right, it was Top Notch the humpback whale. Today it maintained a pattern of 4 - 5 minute down times during which it would swim more than a quarter mile away in a random direction. Twice the whale came directly towards the Condor Express and at the last possible moment kicked up its tail flukes and dove under the boat. I happened to be on the lower deck railing shooting Velella velella during one of these close approach dives and it was a heart thumping experience. There seemed to be more Velella velella today than over the past week, and hopefully one or two of the photos will be memorable. I'll post them all online sometime tomorrow. We did also stop for a couple of Mola mola that were medium large. In all it was a very beautiful late summer day for wildlife watching.  Website
8/18/14 - A NOTCHural humpback experience
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Gentle breezes and bright sunshine greeted the cetacean fans on board the Condor Express today. We spent the day in the northeastern Santa Barbara Channel again and the whole region was swarming with long beaked common dolphins, black vented shearwaters, California sea lions and quite a few Velella velella (purple sailor jellies). Before long "Top Notch" was located and we spent most of the trip watching this amazing animal. It made a few passes near the boat and then two direct routes directly at us, kicking up its flukes at the last possible minute and diving under us. We finished off the trip with a very nice cruise up the coast from Ventura back to Santa Barbara Harbor and enjoyed all the various points of interest, beaches and so forth.   Website
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