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10 of the World’s Best Whale Watching Destinations

Whales are some of the most beautiful creatures to grace the open seas. Fortunately, they love to travel, giving nature and animal lovers opportunities to catch glimpses of their monstrous forms as they travel throughout the world’s waterways. Check out some of the best places in the world to spot a whale.

10. The Azores

Sperm whale tail / Pottwalfluke

The Azores is a relatively isolated chain of islands located in the Atlatnic Ocean. The islands, owned by Portugal, include nine volcanic islands and the surrounding waters are filled with a huge supply of fish, especially between April and September – perfect for visiting whales to dine on. You’re likely to see both shirt-finned pilot and sperm whales swimming between the islands of Sao Jorge, Faial, and Pico.

9. Hermanus

 Hermanus & whales

Imagine being able to whale watch without ever boarding a ship. On the island of Hermanus in Walker Bay, Africa you can do just that. The whales usually visit between May and December and if you visit Hermanus in July you might even catch a glimpse of the southern right whales who visit annually. Climb to the top of the cliffs, find a bench or telescope viewing station, and enjoy the view.

8. Cape Cod

Aaron Cape Cod  Whale Watch 012

The waters off of Cape Cod, a Northeastern destination off the Atlantic coast of the United States, is so popular amongst whales that even the World Wildlife Fund has included the destination as top-10 favorite for whales. Most local whale watching companies here claim you have a 99% chance of seeing a whale aboard one of their cruises during peak whale watching season, from April through October. Keep your eyes peeled for finback whales, humpback whales, and even minke. Why not book a room in one of the fabulous Cape Cod hotels and enjoy an entire weekend exploring the New England states?

7. Los Cabos

Whales of the coast of Cabo San Lucas in the Sea of Cortez, Baja Mexico - Feb 2005

Los Cabos, Mexico is already a popular destination amongst partying tourists who want to spend some time having fun in the sun. If you visit between January and April, however, you’ll have the opportunity to see a myriad of humpback whales, gray whales, sperm whales, and even a few blue whales as they migrate south from Alaska and Siberia to spend some time in the warmer waters.

6. Dominica

Dominica - whale watch 3

Dominica is already a popular Caribbean island but its tropical waters are a favorite not just amongst tourist but amongst the whales as well. Take a break from exploring the coral reefs and underwater hot springs and jump aboard a whale watching vessel. In between Guadeloupe and Martinique you’re almost guaranteed to see a pigmy whale, sperm whale, or killer whale, most of which frequent the area between November and June each year.

5. Orcas Island

Orca Whales June, 1999

The aptly named Orcas Island, located off the shores of Washington State, is considered a gem amongst gems in the San Juan island chain. The island, well loved by nature lovers, is one of the best places to see pods of oras and gray whales during the spring and summer months. You’ll have to take a whale watching cruise, though, or you may not be able to enter the area’s protected waters.

4. Hawaii

Maui Whale0063

Humpback whales love the state of Alaska so much that the islands have adopted them as their state animal. The whales usually migrate from the northern section of the Pacific down towards Hawaii during around late November and stay until the middle of April. With clear waters boasting visibility up to 100 feet deep, it’ll be easy to spot at least one or two of these incredible creatures hanging around the islands – especially Maui.

3. Quebec

Whale sighting in Baie Ste Catherine

Quebec offers a couple of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for whale watchers visiting Canada. It is one of only a handful of places in the world where you’ll be able to see the North Atlantic right whale, now nearly extinct, or beluga whales, usually found in the St. Lawrence River. Belugas love to swim with their heads sticking out of the water, making it very easy for whale watchers of all ages to catch a glimpse.

2. Kaikoura

Kaikoura - Sperm Whale

Located on the South Island of New Zealand, the tiny town of Kaikoura is world-renowned as one of the most incredible destinations for eco-tourism. The waters off of Kaikoura are amongst the most popular in the world amongst sperm whales, visitors who spend the greater part of the year near the island. You’ll see orca whales between December and March, humpbacks between June and July, and the occasionally a pod of pilot whales will pass by as well.

1. San Diego

FantasticVoyageII4070

Believe it or not, the waters of the San Diego Bay in California are incredibly popular amongst gray whales in between the months of December and March. These incredible beasts usually stop by to visit on their way down to the lagoon waters of Baja. You can either visit the Cabrillo National Monument to view the whales by land or take a cruise for a close-up view.

Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready. These incredibly beautiful creatures may not stay within your line of sight for long!

3 Comments for "10 of the World’s Best Whale Watching Destinations"

Bob says on December 26th, 2009 at 7:37 pm:

Great post on whale watching. My favorite time of year. When traveling and selecting a whale watching tour company, I always try to pick one that states they are responsible in how they approach whales. Being as close to a whale may be fun for us, but not necessarily to the whales according to research.

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