When I was a kid on the California coast, I spent a lot of time on the pier at Pismo Beach. During whale migrations, the greys would come up to scratch on the pilings, making the whole pier sway back and forth. It was especially wonderful when it was a cow with a calf.
As a teenager, I lived in Hawaii for a while on the Big Island, and used to go trolling on the weekends. One particularly memorable time a whale breached right next to the (18 foot) boat, and then continued to come up near us, including on kind of up and down with the tail flukes suspended within about 6 feet of us. It was awesome and terrifying at the same time.