Catching a glimpse of some of the world’s most majestic mammals is a really special experience, especially when seen in their natural habitat. I’ve got to admit, I LOVE going out on a boat to see whales, it’s something I find so magical, especially when you realise how big some of the species can be!
Thankfully, there are lots of amazing places to spot some of these gentle giants, all within easy reach of some pretty beautiful countries. As with any trip to spot whales, whether you’re thinking of joining an excursion or hiring a boat and spotter, always do your homework about the company you’re going with. The last thing you’ll want is to join a boat that doesn’t respect the animals, their space or the stewardship of the waters they operate in.
Take a look at some of the very best places to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants, below!
1.) Vancouver Island, Canada
If you want to see Orcas, this is the place to be! While there are some other species, such as transient Greys and Humpbacks, this is the home of resident Orca pods (the kind that doesn’t make long migrations), and they’re the most researched Orcas in the world. May to September is Orca season, making the Canadian summer an awesome time to visit.
2.) Rye, New Hampshire
Though this could just as easily be Portland, Maine all the way to Quebec, Canada, but this stretch of the ocean, throughout the summer, is full of Pilot Whales, Minke, Humpback, the occasional Finback if you’re lucky. It’s also the migration stretch for Atlantic Whitesided Dolphins too! Make sure to wrap up warm, even in the summer months, the blustery wind chill can get quite high!
3.) Husavik, Iceland
From May to September this is the best feeding ground for Humpbacks, but you’ll also find a few wayward Blue Whales and Sperm Whales, as well as occasional Sei whales. Early summer, through June and July, is the best time for Blue whales but if you want to catch a good glimpse of the Northern Lights in Iceland (alongside the whales), make sure to visit in September.
4.) Baja California, Mexico
This is a great place for migrating Blues, but it’s much more of a thoroughfare for Grey and Bryde’s whales. The Greys are very friendly in the area and like to come up and bump the boats, and are easy to find from late January/early February through April.
5.) Western Scotland
Scotland is a big hotspot for the North Atlantic’s Whale population. May through October you’ll find scads of Minke, Humpbacks, Finbacks, Sperm Whales, and even transient Orca pods! Plus you can often find Bottlenose Dolphins in big pods, or travelling alongside their whale buddies! 🐳
If you’re thinking of visiting Scotland, take a look at our Highlands drives, right here
6.) Western Cape to Capetown, South Africa
Popular friends of the South African Naval Diving Teams, you can find tonnes of Humpback Whales here as well as South Right Whales coming around the African horn. You can also find Cape Fur Seals and Great White Sharks! Best times are from July through November, but the overall whale season is May to December.
Oh… and don’t forget to visit the penguins just outside Cape Town, too – which you can see, right here.
Read more on some of the amazing experiences you have to do jus outside of Cape Town, right here.
7.) Tromso, Norway
Perched in the Artic Circle, Tromso is the ideal spot to start your whale watching adventure. During the chilly winter months, you’ll be able to spot plenty of Orca’s and hungry Humpback whales that come to fill their tummy with all the delicious herring that live in the area.
Dress, warmly and be prepared for low-light conditions, especially in the long winter nights.
8.) Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is, arguably, one of the most reliable places in the world to find Blue Whales. Because the island is close to a dip in the continental shelf the biggest creatures on earth tend to come quite close and on a very reliable schedule between January and April. You’ll also get Sperm Whales and a variety of dolphins.
Thinking about visiting Sri Lanka? Make sure you visit all these spots during your visit! Don’t forget to visit this protected National Park, too – you’ll even spot elephants.
9.) The Antarctic Peninsula
This is one of the primary feeding grounds for Blue Whales, Humpbacks, and transient Orcas. February and March are the best times, they’ll be everywhere drifting around the ice floes. And bonus! Plenty of penguin species and three different types of dolphins migrate through this area regularly during this time!
Antartica is probably one of the more expensive excursions to take but a beautiful place to visit if your budget is a little higher.
10.) The Maldives
This is where to go, between February and April, October and November for some unusual species such as Whale Sharks (technically, not a whale but still pretty darn impressive to see) and Rough Toothed Dolphins, or even a Melon-Headed Whale! Sperm Whales can also coast by. April and May are the best times for any of these species to come feeding.
We went whale shark searching in the Maldives and were told the most reputable skippers will never feed the whales sharks (they will search naturally), meaning that they will never change the natural behaviour of these beautiful animals. If you’re ever unsure, just ask before you book.
Read our complete guide on things to know before you visit the Maldives, right here!
11.) Nuqui and Haía Solano, Colombia
The pacific coast of the country is a massive breeding ground for Humpback Whales from July to November, so you can catch a lot of mothers and calves out in the warm bay waters. And what’s more, January to July is sea turtle nesting season!