Spotting a breaching Gray Whale or Orca while whale watching on the Oregon coast is an absolute rush and is something you'll never forget.
I vividly remember taking an extended tour and being out on a boat with my wife.
From the loud speaker, the captain explained exactly what we should be looking for and when and where we should be watching.
The anticipation of actually seeing one of these mysterious beasts was almost as exciting as when we spotted them.
All at once, a small pod of Orcas breached on our left-hand side (I don't know nautical directions; sorry), swam UNDER our boat and then came up and breached on the other side. What an incredible experience that was!
This popular activity along the Oregon Coast began back in the early 1970s, originating around 1953-55 along the Southern California coastline.
The Oregon Coast is well-known for the activity of attempting to eyeball these awesome creatures.
The annual event takes place when the Gray Whale's 6000 mile migration from the Bering Sea to the Baja's warm waters begins.
The southbound migration of the whales runs from November through December and their northern trek goes from February through April.
There are many areas along the coastline that are known for spotting the large groups of mammals. According to Whale Watching Spoken Here, these are the prime places in Oregon to catch a glimpse, from North to South:
Get helpful guides about viewing these awe-inspiring creatures in PDF format in the Guide Books section
What To Be Looking For
The particular thing that you are looking for is called "spouting." As the whales surface to exhale, they will blow a plume of water from 6 to 10 feet in the air and this can be seen from quite a distance. Once they go back under, watch for the exposure of their backs and tails. Binoculars are a must if you plan to go whale watching.
There are also many places that you can charter a boat out to sea and look for whales. Most tours run from one to two hours. Check with the local chamber of commerce for boat charters or just ask a local!