30 of the Best Places to go Whale Watching
• June to August
2. Southeast Alaska
Humpback whales bubble-net feeding, killer whales hunting salmon and marine mammals.
• June to early September
3. British Columbia
Johnstone Strait and Puget Sound are two of the world’s best places to see orca, while grey whales migrate along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Humpbacks also seen.
• March/April for grey whales, May to September for orca
Grey whales migrate along the coast, while the food-rich canyons and banks of Monterey Bay attract blue, humpback, grey, fin, minke and beaked whales.
• Greys arrive late January; prime time for Monterey Bay is August to October
5. Baja California
Grey whales calve and mate in Baja’s Pacific lagoons, while the Sea of Cortez is renowned for blue, humpback, Bryde’s, fin, sperm and minke whales.
• January to April for grey whales; year round for the Sea of Cortez
Humpbacks migrate to a whale sanctuary off Maui to mate, sing and give birth.
• Late December to April
7. Hudson Bay, Manitoba
Beluga congregate in their thousands along the Churchill River estuary.
• July to August
8. St Lawrence River & Gulf
The spring thaw sparks a food-chain reaction that lures a variety of whales, including beluga, fin, minke, humpback and blue.
• June to November; Mingan Islands for blues, August to November
9. Bay of Fundy
Humpback, fin and minke whales are commonly seen, with sei and sperm whales encountered further offshore. The Bay of Fundy is an important feeding and nursery area for the rare northern right whale.
• August to November for northern right whales; June to October for other species
10. New England
Stellwagen Bank, off Cape Cod, is a summer feeding ground for several species, including humpback, fin, minke, pilot and right whale.
• April to October
The seas around Dominica are home to sperm whales, while humpbacks gather to sing, mate and calve in the marine sanctuary north of the Dominican Republic.
• Year round for sperm whales; January to April for humpbacks
Humpback whales at Puerto López and further north at Gorgona, a Pacific island around 50km off the Colombian coast.
• June to mid September
Blue whales, Chiloé Island.
• December to March
14. Península Valdés
See southern right whales at play, raising their tails out of the water and using them to ‘sail’ across sheltered bays. Orca have prey on their minds, surfing onto beaches in pursuit of sea lion pups.
• Mid-July to November for southern right whales; orca year round, but hunting sea lions from mid-February until mid-April
Spot whales in the glow of the midnight sun. Húsavik has an excellent whale museum and offers cruises in search of minke and humpback whales. Try Stykkishólmur on the west coast of Iceland for blue and sperm whales.
• May to September; orca hunt shoals of herring off the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland during February and March.
Orca sometimes hunt herring in Tysfjord and other fjords in northern Norway (locations change yearly), while sperm whales seek squid in the submarine canyons of the Andenes.
• Late May to September for sperm whales; October to mid-November for orca
Set sail for the Hebrides, Orkney or Shetland Islands for sightings of minke whales, plus humpback, fin and sperm whales if you’re lucky. Large pods of orca are also possible, particularly in the seas around the Shetland Islands and off the northwest coast of Ireland.
• May to October.
Sperm whales can be found in the deep waters off the south coast of Pico.
• May to October.
19. Canary Islands
Boat trips from the west coast of Tenerife frequently encounter large pods of short-finned pilot whales.
• Year round
Fin whales, Ligurian Sea.
• June to September
Sperm whales can be found south of Crete.
• June to September
22. South Africa
Whale watching for landlubbers. Drive the Whale Route from Cape Town to Durban for sightings of southern right whales close inshore and easily visible from cliff tops, or take a boat trip from Gansbaii.
• July to November.
Humpbacks off Nosy Boraha.
• July to September
24. Sri Lanka
The south coast, particularly off Dondra Head, has emerged as prime territory for blue and sperm whales.
• January to April
Humpbacks over-winter in the Kerama and Ogasawara islands, while Bryde’s whales visit Ogata.
• February to April for humpbacks, March to October for Bryde’s whales
Australasia & Antarctica
26. South Australia
Southern right whales are easily viewed from clifftops along the Nullarbor and around Adelaide.
• May to October
27. Hervey Bay, Australia
A favourite stopover for migrating humpbacks.
• August to October
Humpbacks arrive to give birth and mate.
• July to November
29. Kaikoura, New Zealand
Bachelor sperm whales hang out on the edge of the continental shelf, a short boat ride from shore.
• Year round
Krill-rich seas create the ultimate feeding ground for baleen whales, while orca nose around pack ice on the lookout for unwary penguins and seals.
• November to March
Dolphins are not only commonly seen on most whale-watching trips, but they often steal the show with their bow-riding antics and other acrobatics. If it’s purely dolphins you’re looking for, however, head to hotspots like Kaikoura, New Zealand (for dusky dolphins), the Straits of Gibraltar (for common dolphins), Bimini, the Bahamas (for spotted dolphins), the Amazon (for pink river dolphins or botos), and the Moray Firth, Scotland (for bottlenose dolphins). Of course, orcas and pilot whales (mentioned above) are also members of the Delphinidae family.