15 Best Places To Go Whale Watching

Want to have a whale of a time? Why not do it literally and figuratively by going whale watching? In certain times of the year, several regions proudly offer boat tours to see the ocean’s most fantastic mammal. From barnacle-ridden humpback whales to graceful belugas, here are the 15 best places to go whale watching throughout the world.

santa barbara

Courtesy of John Fellner/Flickr.com

1. Santa Barbara – California

When: January to February 

Not only can you see over 30 species of whale in this Southern California coastal city, but dolphins, porpoise, sea lions and seals can be spotted near the shore as well. Book a boat tour for a more up close and personal experience with several of nature’s most magnificent creatures.


Courtesy of Chris/Flickr.com

2. Kaikoura – New Zealand

When: November to March 

Want to see giant sperm whales in their natural environment? From November to March in Kaikoura, migrations of whales wander closer to the coast, giving tourists the perfect opportunity to see a dramatic tail flip.

the azores

Courtesy of Hannah/Flickr.com

3. The Azores – Portugal

When: May to October

One of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries, The Azores is home to sperm whales and blue whales, as well as spotted dolphins and other crustaceans.

hervey bay

Courtesy of eGuide Travel/Flickr.com

4. Hervey Bay – Australia

When: July to October

There is more to Australia than great white sharks and salt water crocodiles — majestic humpback whales can be seen signing their songs. Tourists have reported seeing the whales come close enough to their boats to see the barnacles latched on the animal’s skin.


Courtesy of Rolf Kleef/Flickr.com

5. Hermanus – South Africa

When: June to December

Ahh, South Africa — land of scenic mountains, wild baboons, Xhosa people and humpback whales. Sometimes you don’t even need to book a boat tour since Hermanus’ cliffs lets you see the magnificent creatures from the shore.


Courtesy of Mindseye_pj/Flickr.com

6. Husavik – Iceland

When: April to October 

Iceland’s freezing water is perfect for over 24 species of whales, making this country a popular destination to see the beloved mammals. And while you’re looking for them, you’ll be very amused by the cute puffins that surround the area.


Courtesy of Moosealope/Flickr.com

7. Puerto Vallarta – Mexico

When: December to March 

Grey whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals like to cozy up next to the coast of Mexico (perhaps they are drawn in by the delicious Mexican food?).

peninsula valdes

Courtesy of Pedro Alonso/Flickr.com

8. Peninsula Valdes – Argentina

When: June to December

After admiring the gorgeous architecture of Buenos Aires and the mountains of Patagonia, it’s advised to make your trip to the coast and embark on a whale sighting tour. Whats a better way to wrap up your South American trip than being greeted by orcas and dolphins?


Courtesy of David Stanley/Flickr.com

9. Vancouver Island – British Columbia

When: March to September

Killer whales (don’t worry they rarely kill humans), grey whales, humpback whales and minke whales can be found frolicking in the waterways surrounding Vancouver Island. If not booking a charter boat tour, thrill-seekers can also kayak in the area.

bar harbor

Courtesy of Patrick Hawks/Flickr.com

10. Bar Harbor – Maine

When: May to October

You mean there’s more to Maine than just lobster rolls? Finbacks, humpbacks and Minke whales love the icy shores of Maine. Oh and you might see some puffins too, since you’re basically in Canada.

orcas island

Courtesy of Ingrid Taylar/Flickr.com

11. Orcas Island – Washington

When: April to October

Not only do you see many species of whales (grey, humpback and minke), but you will see a wide array of porpoises, seal lions, otters and bald eagles. It doesn’t get more American than watching a whale flip on its backside while a bald eagle majestically flies by.

cunningham inlet

Courtesy of Exodus.co.uk

12. Cunningham Inlet – Canada

When: July to August

Available for such a limited time during the summer, scores of beluga whales migrate north to colder Canadian waters. In the nighttime, locals say that you can hear the whales singing happily from the shores.


Courtesy of Tony Hisgett/Flickr.com

13. Strait of Gibraltar – Spain

When: April to October 

Sperm whales, pilot whales, killer whales, fin whales and bottle-nose dolphins are commonly seen in the Strait of Gibraltar.

cape cod

Courtesy of Rich Ellison/Flickr.com

14. Cape Cod – Massachusetts

 When: April to October

When you’re in New England, it’s crucial to take a break from eating seafood and book a boat tour by the coast. Before you know it, a beautiful whale will belly-flop into the ocean before you can say “humpback”.

Antarctic Peninsula

Courtesy of Barry Thomas/Flickr.com

15. Antarctic Peninsula – Antarctica

When: Year round

It would be pretty lame to visit Antarctica and not see any whales (imagine the embarrassment when you come home to your friends with no whale stories to tell). Book a cruise ship (you’ll want a big sturdy boat to break through the ice). Most boats will leave from Argentina to sail around the Arctic Peninsula where you can see several whales, penguins and if you’re lucky, polar bears.

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