Cristal's Blog


July 20, 2022

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One of the Best Places in the World to Spot Marine Life, Including Whales

Hop aboard a whale-watching vessel and experience an up-close and personal connection with the largest mammals on earth. The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the best places in the world for spotting whales due to our nutrient-rich water. And we’re not only talking about whales here. Spotting dolphins is a daily occurrence, along with porpoises and other amazing creatures.

A huge whale tail out of the water

Image courtesy of the Santa Barbara Sailing Center

Pacific Grey Whales

Every year whale watching in Santa Barbara begins in late November when Pacific gray whales migrate through the Channel on their 12,000-mile journey from the frigid waters of Alaska to the temperate waters of Baja California. Gray whales can reach 25 feet in size and are easier to see out on the water than more elusive, deep-water whales.

“Seeing these animals out in their natural habitat, up close and personal, is really something you have to experience yourself to fully appreciate,” says Skip Abed, the owner of the Santa Barbara Sailing Center. “It’s a great way to get out on the water and appreciate the beauty of what we have here in Santa Barbara.”

Humpback Whales

Reaching lengths of up to 60 ft. and weighing as much as 79,000 pounds makes the humpback whale one of the largest known species alive today. In the late spring through early fall, humpbacks migrate from cold climates near the northern and southern polar hemispheres toward warmer tropical climates, making an appearance off our shores on the way back and forth traveling as much as 16,000 miles per year.

Whale Watching Tours

There are several local companies that offer whale watching tours in Santa Barbara.

A sailboat and a whale in sata barbara

Image courtesy of the Santa Barbara Sailing Center

  • Santa Barbara Sailing Center
    How does spotting whales from the deck of a sailboat sound to you? That's just what Santa Barbara Sailing center offers from their 50-ft. catamaran, the Double Dolphin. Silently slip through the waves to get as close as possible to whales without being noticed. Reservations are necessary for this extraordinary cruise that runs seven days a week.

  • The Condor Express
    The Condor Express is one of the few companies that offer year-round whale-watching tours and guarantee passengers will see something amazing or receive a Whale Check for a future trip. The captains of the company’s eco-friendly, 75-foot catamaran know just where to go to view extraordinary sea life in their natural habitat. There’s plenty of room on this state-of-the-art vessel that features in-cabin and upper deck seating for up to 120 passengers.
Boat in the ocean with whale coming out of the water in front

Image courtesy of Sunset Kidd

  • Sunset Kidd
    Be one with migrating whales from the deck of a private sailing yacht. With a maximum capacity of 15 passengers, this tour is a more intimate way to witness whales in their natural habitat. From the deck of a 41-foot yacht, you'll sail alongside giant California gray whales as they break the surface, allowing you to see the whales while listening to the Pacific Ocean lapping up against the boat.

  • Captain Jack’s
    Captain Jack’s four-and-a-half-hour trip off the Santa Barbara coast offers a stunning look at several species of whales including blue, humpback, gray, and killer whales. Board a 75-ft. catamaran and enjoy beer, wine, and snacks while watching the beauty and grandeur of the Pacific's most majestic creatures.
A yacht with a party on board

Image courtesy of Celebration Cruises

  • Celebration Cruises
    One-third of the marine mammals in the world can be spotted in the waters off the coast of Santa Barbara, and Celebration Cruises wants you to see them up close. From February to May, more than 27 species of whales share these waters with Celebration Cruises’ 46-passenger luxury yacht. You’ll also see sea lions and dolphins on this Santa Barbara cruise.

In Santa Barbara, it is also possible to see whales while enjoying the many leisurely trails along our scenic bluffs, the perfect vantage points to sit and watch for these magnificent creatures heading north or south.

Meantime, if you’d like to live in this haven for wildlife and are searching for a home in Montecito, Hope Ranch or any of Santa Barbara’s upscale communities, please call me at (805) 886-9378 or send me an email at We can celebrate your real estate transaction by whale watching in Santa Barbara.

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch