· Get a guarantee
When booking your adventure, get your money's worth. A number of places will guarantee a whale sighting. If the 40-ton marine mammals don't make an appearance, the companies will give you a pass for another whale-watching trip or harbor cruise.
· Lower your expectations
You won't see Free Willy majestically jumping out of the water and doing tricks for you. Instead, you'll likely spot it shooting water out of its blowhole or flipping its fluke (tail) as it dives into the water. However, you also could encounter some unexpected sights, like a pod of dolphins—so cute!
· Dramamine is your friend
Our whale-watching companion saw the calm bay waters and shrugged off any motion-sickness medicine. Then the boat pulled into the Pacific, where it sat for several hours swaying back and forth in choppy water as we scoured for whales. Our pal spent most of the time in the bathroom; our Dramamine-popping selves were just fine.
· Layer up
The morning is cold, and it usually gets warmer during the three-hour-plus tour. But sitting outside, the wind can make your teeth chatter even when the sun is out and shining. Stick to layers so that you can accommodate any weather.
· BYO binoculars
You'll definitely need a pair of binoculars so that you can do some whale spotting. Otherwise you'll get a headache from all of the squinting. Many boats offer binocular rentals, but save some bucks and bring your own.