Avila Beach Pier

Avila Beach is located just a stone’s throw from San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach on California's Highway 1 Discovery Route. Exit the 101 freeway and follow Avila Beach Drive, a scenic central coast road, which leads visitors through a lush valley lined with hundred year old oak and sycamore trees, and follows a meandering stream into the welcoming paradise of Avila Beach.

With its own uniquely sunny and warm microclimate, Avila Beach is a breath of fresh salt air, featuring charming restaurants, magnificent local wines, shopping and countless activities such as biking, hiking, kayaking and fishing.

Where the Whales Are

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.

Stewardship Activities

"Avila Beach's Whale Trail site along California's Highway 1 Discovery Route is representative of San Luis Obispo County's ongoing commitment to Stewardship Travel" states Cheryl Cuming, CAO of unincorporated San Luis Obispo County's Tourism Business Improvement District. "We want to welcome visitors interested in learning about and preserving California's natural areas and historic sites. We have also created Wildlife Viewing and Stewardship Tips so our visitors can enjoy our abundant wildlife both on land and sea."

Avila Beach encourages visitors to connect, learn about, and preserve the natural beauty of Avila Beach through our many unique annual Stewardship Travel events and activities:

Annual events include: 

  • Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Day" and Avila Beach Community Center's "Avila Apple Festival"
  • Central Coast Aquarium's "Catch of the Central Coast" benefit, "Sharks After Dark" and the "Beneath the Surface Dive and Beach Clean-Up"

Stewardship activities include:

  • Clean-Up Kit and Appreciation Tote Bag
  • Point San Luis Lighthouse History Tour and Volunteer Days
  • Pecho Coast Trail Docent Lead Hikes to Point San Luis Lighthouse with PG&E
  • Watch the Sharks Feed at the Central Coast Aquarium
  • Visit the Jelly Tank at the Central Coast Aquarium

For more information about these unique visitor opportunities, please visit: Visitavilabeach.com

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The Whale Trail

Address / Contact

65 Avila Beach Pier
Avila Beach, CA 93424

Whale Trail Features

A Whale Trail interpretive panel is located on Avila Pier.

Amenities

  • restrooms
  • telephone
  • accessible
  • lodging
  • picnic-area

Marine Mammals Commonly Seen Here

Marine Mammals Occasionally Seen Here

Marine Mammals Rarely Seen Here

The Whale Trail is a nonprofit organization in partnership with
Partners NOAA Seattle Aquarium People for Puget Sound Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife The Whale Museum National Marine Sanctuaries