In recent years, Avila Beach has become a site for whale watching as numbers of grays and humpback whales have begun showing up yearly to feed, which draws visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. The Whale Trail sign is located at the entrance to Avila Beach Pier just off Front Street, adjacent to unique shops, tasting rooms, charming boutique hotels, vacation rentals and restaurants. The sign is still accessible for all to enjoy although the majority of the pier is currently closed for repairs.
San Luis Bay, also known as Avila Bay, provides shelter and food for a wide variety of marine mammals. Baitfish like anchovies and krill attract a wide variety of marine mammals and birds. The Avila Pier is one of the best places to watch whales from on this part of the coast, although whales can be observed from the majority of its south facing coastline.
From the pier, look towards the horizon and catch a glimpse of a whale spout. Gray whale spouts are heart shaped, while humpback whale blows are tall and bushy. A big splash could mean a whale has just breached. Look out for large groups of birds feeding on the krill that typically feed in the same areas as whales and dolphins.
December to April are the best months to watch gray whales on their annual migration. Humpback whales may be seen year round, and are increasingly seen in these waters. Dolphins often come into the bay to forage and to play. Southern sea otters can often be seen seeking food and protection in the kelp.