The Coast News Group
Oceanside Adventures now runs two trips daily out of Oceanside Harbor to see several types of whales and often hundreds of dolphins just off the coast. The warm Pacific current called El Nino has brought sea life that is unusual for this area. [Courtesy photo]
Hit the Road

Plenty to see in the sea


You’ll never hear me say that it’s not good to travel — with this one exception: No need for North County residents to go far to get a first-class whale watching experience.

Oceanside Adventures’ new 49-passenger catamaran leaves from Oceanside Harbor twice a day (noon and 2:30 p.m.) every day and there’s plenty to see, says naturalist Carla Mitroff.
“Now is blue whale season,” she said, “and we’re seeing humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales. There are more humpback whales in the area for the last couple of years. And we’ve seen one great white shark. You can see the fin come out of the water if you approach them slowly.”

Although the traditional whale-watching season is considered to be from about November to March when gray whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico, things have been different for the past two years.

“Right now El Nino (a warm current in the Pacific Ocean) is bringing in animals we don’t usually see, like hammerhead sharks,” Mitroff explained. “Some might not have been seen in this area before.”

And then there are the thousands of dolphins — bottlenose, common and others — that hang off the Oceanside coast year-round. It can be a spectacular sight, watching these agile, energetic mammals race along the boat, jumping high in the air like a massive dolphin synchronized swimming event.

The quiet moments are worthy of watching, too.

“We saw a mother and a calf bottlenose inside the harbor the other day,” Mitroff said.

Sightings and photos, taken by Mitroff, are posted every day on the website

Make reservations at the website or call 888-507-1130. Also buy tickets at Helgren’s Sportfishing Center, 315 Harbor Drive South, Oceanside. Adults $39; military/seniors (55+) $34; 12 and under $29. Not recommended for children under 2.


Contemplating traveling to Las Vegas to tie the knot?

Getting married in Sin City is taken to a new level at the town’s newest matrimonial venue, The Hangover Experience. As odd as it may seem, this chapel that has been added to the mother of all wax museums — Madame Tussauds Las Vegas.

Yes, the chapel is based on Warner Bros. Pictures’ massively popular film, “The Hangover,” and it comes complete with lights that can change to custom wedding colors; seating for 30; an Elvis minister; flowers and shots of Jägermeister for bride and groom; a DJ; access to the museum; two hours of bar service and mini-buffet hors d’oeuvres and more. The price begins at $5,500.

Got a bigger group to witness your nuptials?

You can book the “Viva Vegas” room (accommodates 75), located next to The Hangover Experience. There will be extra guests joining this party — the wax likenesses of celebs who are synonymous with Las Vegas’ history: Elvis, Liberace, Celine Dion, Blue Man Group and the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop).

The Hangover Experience was many months in the making. Twenty artists worked on creating the wax version of the “Alan” character from the movie, played by Zach Galifanakis. More than 200 measurements were taken to create a clay mold of his face, and the 10,000 strands of hair on the wax figure’s head were placed one-by-one.
Bradley Cooper’s character, “Phil,” was completed the year before.

The film “The Hangover” has left its mark on Las Vegas, according to promoters. Guests at Caesars Palace’s still ask if Caesar really slept there, and visitors still want to see film locations.

To date, “The Hangover” remains the highest grossing R-rated film of all time, with a domestic gross of more than $300 million. According to the Nevada Film Office, the film was shot in 15 days and brought nearly a $4 million to the area.