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:
   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:
Payment Accepted:
    Cash,   MasterCard,   Visa,  Debit Card,  
Languages Spoken:
General Business Classification:
    Leisure & Recreation
    Bird Watching
    Boat Charters
    Boat Charters
    Deep-Sea Fishing
    Kayaking & Canoeing
    Whale Watching
    Whale Watching
    Whale Watching
    Wildlife Tours

    During normal business hours.
    Outdoor Location
Handicapped Accessible?
    Some restrictions
Cell Phones & Pagers?
Cameras/Recording Equip.?
Pets Allowed?
Gift Certificates?
    Available for Sale
Classes Offered?
 Recent Buzzes!!
4/23/14 - 1 Quad Pod, normal cow-calf pod, and more in the distance...
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On the 9am trip we ran a bit east towards Monticeto and found a gray whale Quad Pod (2 moms and their calves, four whales) in a tight group. After a bit one pair headed for deeper waters and left the other pair to continue rollicking and frolicking in the giant kelp. A little further outside we encountered a nice pod of 400 or so common dolphins, and yet another cow-calf gray whale pair. Additional gray whale spouts were seen both offshore and inside between the kelp and the beach sand. This was a tremendous adventure.
The noon trip was a private charter and they, too, had a great trip on the water. Things got started out by finding a cow-calf pair near the lighthouse...great looks....great behaviors too. Nearly 200 common dolphins were also viewed on this trip. After a while we ran east and found 20 coastal bottle nose dolphins down near the Biltmore Hotel. What a wondrous sight: dolphins hunting down a school of sardines in the kelp beds with clear blue underwater visibility. Wow.
4/22/14 - Cow-calf pairs for BOTH gray whales and humpback whales
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These are the best of times. It's Spring and there is new life all around us in the Santa Barbara Channel. Skies were clear and sunny all day today and later in the afternoon a nice fresh breeze helped cool us off. Only one trip (12 noon), but it was a doozie. West of Santa Barbara Harbor we picked up a wonderful and very active mother gray whale and her little show-boat calf. This calf spy hopped, rolled around, did some kelping, and climbed up on top of mom's back. A bit further west we (humans and cetaceans) were joined by 20 or so coastal bottle nose dolphins. The dolphins were in and out of the kelp forest, and did come over to the Condor Express to ride the bow and greet us. A bit further along, and only 1/2 mile off the beach, there was a spectacular humpback whale mother with her calf. Again, great looks all the way around. Gosh it is great to be out there at this time of year.
4/21/14 - Two Quad Pods = 8 Gray Whales & Dolphins too.
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That's right. One trip (noon) and 8 whales total...4 calves and 5 cows...or, as I like to call it, two Quad Pods. Wow. I think the last phase of the journey north is the best part with the mom's and calves...and the unpredictable behaviors of the youngsters. Today it was sunny on the coast, foggy outside. Good sea conditions. And the whales were in and out of the kelp, did some good head lifts to look around and were gorgeous to watch. Add to this excitement the presence of about 30 inshore bottle nose dolphins, and, well, you can guess the rest.
4/20/14 - Humpbacks in blue water with dolphins and a Minke whale.
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Captain Eric ran the other direction into the Land Of The Humpback Whales today. Skies were sunny and the water was clear and blue. All 5 humpback whales (3 at noon and 2 at 3pm) seemed to be feeding on something down deep. There were 9 minute down times and the whales circled around a central focal point or region. Common dolphins were around the boat and whales all day on both trips (500 at noon, 750 at 3pm). A Minke whale was spotted on the noon trip, and 10 or so bottle nose dolphins were watched along the coast on the way home from the 3pm trip. The dolphins and whales looked spectacular in the great underwater visibility.
4/19/14 - 6 Gray Whales including 1 Quad Pod (and more...)
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Two adventures left the docks today, one at 9am and the other at high noon. On the morning trip the ocean was dead calm, Beaufort 0, and we ran along the edge of the kelp until we found two gray whales. These two were adult whales, but not huge. The were good whales and gave us great looks all around. After a while Captain Eric veered offshore in search of other cetacean species, but did not find any.
On the noon excursion, after a brief sighting of 2 bottle nose dolphins in the kelp, we discovered a gray whale Quad Pod up at More Mesa and stayed with them as the traveled in and out of the kelp beds until we reached the Gaviota Pier. This was a great gray whale foursome and were a lot of fun to watch. I should say that at this point there was a gentle breeze and the sea state was up to Beaufort 3, with not much swell on top. Again, after a hour or so playing with the Quad Pod, Eric, never daunted by recent history, headed offshore again. This time we encountered 2 humpback whales, a large one and a juvenile, tracking to the west southwest. There were other spouts and a couple of breaches further offshore....we were 3 miles off the beach at that point. Not long into the humpback watching a herd of 500 or so common dolphins came over to pester the whales and do a "meet and greet" with the humans on board. It was fantastic stuff in blue water at a time when the sun was just breaking through the overcast.
4/16/14 - More gray whale mom's and calves.
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Two trips again today: 12noon and 3pm. The noon adventure was somewhat limited by fog, but moving out away from the coast the Condor Express was able to locate and play with a mega-pod of at least 1,000 common dolphins. Since the fog was still pretty thick on the outside, Captain Dave pulled back tight to the shoreline and went looking for gray whales along the edge of the kelp beds. Before long he had found a pair of gray whales: a mother and her calf. The two were very predictable and cooperative and, despite the fog, everyone got great looks.
On the 3pm expedition, Dave steered a course back to where he last saw the noon cow-calf pair. Now further up the coast from the Harbor, he re-located the pair and found the two engaged in a kelp bed play session with a second mother-calf pair. The four whales rolled in the kelp, spy hopped, and showed their pectoral fins. Before long a pod of at least 20 inshore bottle nose dolphins joined the fun. The two species interacted for quite a while. It was a wonderful sight to see off the coast of Goleta.
4/15/14 - A great day along the coast of Santa Barbara.
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I know. I know. We call them "coastal trips" and yet frequently we find ourselves offshore quite a ways for one reason or another. But today was different. There was one trip today at noon and we never strayed more than 5 miles or so off the beach and that is certainly where all the life was located. To start things off we found a vast area of at least one square mile full of long beaked common dolphins. There were at least 2,000 animals split into three large pods working the same zone. Elegant terns were squawking and diving all around as this region was full of northern anchovy schools. Next we moved in and ran along the outer edge of the kelp beds in search of gray whales migrating west.
Out of the kelp emerged a dozen inshore bottle nose dolphins...then a second pod of bottle nose for an approximate total of 20. The were feeding in and around the giant kelp forest, but did break off and run with the boat, ride the bow, and generally gave everyone on board some fantastic looks at these large gray animals. After a while the keen eyes of deckhand Augie located a pair of gray whale yearlings, or medium small sized animals, traveling together. At first the pair had 9 or 10 minute down times, but after a while they settled in to a regular 4 to 6 minute pattern. They swam alongside the Condor Express and were very friendly on a couple of breathing cycles. There was also a third whale just outside of us, but we stayed with the pair.
4/13/14 - Baby Gray Whales Romp in Kelp Forest Nursery
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Captain Eric found not one, but TWO pairs of gray whale mothers with calves. Under clear skies and great sea conditions, the Condor Express first followed one cow-calf pair up the coast. Then, in the giant kelp forest neat Counter's Point (formerly known as Coal Oil Point) the boat, under the direction of Eric, found a second cow-calf pair. As if this was not enough excitement for one 12noon whale watching adventure, the two pairs eventually joined up in the kelp. There was lots of spy-hopping by calves and moms alike, and a lot of this took place very close to the Condor Express. General kelp play (or "kelping") was the order of the day and this included rolling around in the brown seaweeds and a great playtime for the young'uns under the watchful and protective eyes of the two moms.
Towards the end of the trip, we ran offshore just a short distance to engage at least 1,500 long beaked common dolphins.
4/7/14 - It's Gray Whale Season - Let's Welcome the Humpbacks
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Two trips out of Santa Barbara Harbor today, one at 9am and another at 12 noon. Sea conditions were great in the morning and only got better in the afternoon. It was hot and sunny. If I had to find a "negative," it would be that the Spring phytoplankton bloom is upon us and the underwater visibility has diminished quite a bit from last week. 'Tis Spring! Although we did get a fleeting glimpse at 2 northbound gray whales on the 12noon trip, about a mile or so offshore, they eluded our attempts to follow them. Bear in mind that it was a hot, summer-like day and all manner of watercraft were near the Harbor ranging from a huge cruise ship on down past the sailboats and yachts and tiny laser sails to personal jet ski's. Perhaps this may explain the shyness of the two grays. But there were plenty of nice, friendly humpback whales around to keep us happy.
On the way out of the Harbor this morning we followed about 8 inshore bottlenose dolphins on their way westbound along the breakwater in shallow water. Captain Eric had the Condor Express in 15 feet of water and the dolphins were well inshore of us playing in and around the little surf. Out in the land of the knobby-headed whales we closely watched 5 on the morning adventure and 6 on the 12 noon expedition. Both trips had two other things in common: there were no common dolphins around and there were plenty more humpback spouting and breaching all around us than we could ever hope to watch on either trip. Sea lions, particularly the young mobsters, were out on the grounds pestering the humpback whales. The whales were diving down to gobble the anchovy schools, which were hovering at 90 - 100 feet below the surface. The sea lions were there to join the smorgasbord. On the 12 noon trip we had two very very close approaches by a pair of humpback whales. And on a final note, we watched our humpback pal Rope on the morning trip.
4/5/14 - Humpbacks a-Plenty
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Three whale watch trips were conducted today with decent conditions and sunny skies throughout most of the day. This is apparently the lull that occurs every year in the northbound gray whale migration. A decline in the numbers of gray whales observed daily, as the majority of the population has past our region en route to Alaskan waters, precedes an increase in sightings as the mothers with their calves are the last to pass by. Meanwhile, as we wait a few days for the cows and calves, we have humpbacks a-plenty to make our trips exciting. Although 10 humpback whales were observed today, most in the eastern Santa Barbara Channel, the crew of the Condor Express reported many many more spouts in the vicinity. Under the sunny skies huge anchovy bait balls were spotted and hundreds of sea birds and common dolphins were observed we have reported frequently of late. While most of the day the humpback whales were seen moving around, fluking up and there were breaches in the distance, it was on the 3pm afternoon trip that the big whales joined the rest of the animals and were seen surface lunge feeding. Many of these feeding lunges were straight up and down, and several were very close to the boat. It was a spectacular day of sightings.
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