Where to find the best whale-watching in the world

If you want to learn about the most amazing destinations in the world where to go whale watching this awesome guide will help you find some that will fit your travel plans for sure.

Frequent travelers, writers, and whale lovers are sharing in this article the best whale-watching sites in the world, how to get there, and when.

But most of all how to do it with respect to the environment and without disturbing the whales’ natural habitat and routine.

Seeing whales in the wild is the best way to admire these graceful giants of the sea in their natural environment, without disrupting their elements.

Luckily nowadays there are many whale watching destinations in the world where it’s very easy to find organized tours organized by eco-friendly companies. Whether it’s on day boat tours or on small cruises, the captain will know where to see whales and how to approach them with the utmost respect for these beautiful marine mammals.

I have been on a lot of whale-watching trips in Baja California Mexico and I made it one of my travel goals to see as many whales as possible in many parts of the world, always respecting their environment.

Keep in mind that whale watching season varies depending on where you are. Make sure you check out when it’s the best time to go whale watching in your favorite destination before booking.

humpback whale

And that’s why I have asked for the help of other expert travelers to share their most incredible experiences of whale watching in the world.

Read on to learn about where and how you can see whales in your favorite destinations in the world.

The best whale-watching destinations in the world

Whale Watching in Baja California Mexico

Blue whale tale Loreto
Blue Whale in Loreto

Baja California is one of my favorite Mexican destinations and the best place to see whales in their natural environment. There are many different spots in Baja California where to watch whales, and believe it or not, I have seen many of them.

In Loreto, I have seen the majestic blue whales, the biggest animal on the planet emerging from the water and then diving back down with their huge tail disappearing in the water.

It was an incredible and emotional experience that was made even better by the countless number of dolphin flipping and swimming around our boat on the way to the whale spotting.

Obviously, both whales and dolphins are free in their natural environment but because the boat captain knew where to find them it was almost a guaranteed sight.

The best place to see the grey whales in Baja California is in Adolfo Lopez Mateo on the Pacific coast. It’s also quite cheap and you can book your boat trip directly on the pier.

The cost of the boat is 1600 MXN per hour (80USD), no matter how many people are on the boat.

So if you are alone and you don’t want to pay the full price you can wait until other solo travelers, or couples ask for a tour, and you can share the cost.

a humpback whale jumping out of the water during our snorkeling trip in cabo pulmo
Whale watching during Cabo Pulmo snorkeling trip

The small boats (lanchas) can hold a maximum of 12 people but I would suggest you should not be more than 6 or 7 for the best experience.

The lancha will take you around the bay and the friendly gray whales will come over, attracted by the noise of the motors.

These adorable creatures will swim down and around the boat and sometimes will emerge from the water close to you so that you can pet them.

If you love to see the dance of the humpback whales, instead, you should take a tour off of Cabo San Lucas or Cabo Pulmo, the latter a laid-back and yet pricy destination for all sorts of watersport activities.

If you love whales, Baja California is the best place to see many kinds and you won’t certainly get bored, but make sure you travel there from January through the end of March if you want to see them.

Book your whale-watching tour in Los Cabos

Whale Watching in Puerto Vallarta Mexico

hyatt Puerto Vallarta view

If you are in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is one best whale-watching destinations, besides Baja, with the difference that it’s easier to see humpback whales from there than other kinds.

Also, it is not uncommon to see whales jumping off the water from your hotel balcony if you are staying in one of the beachfront hotels in Puerto Vallarta.

Otherwise, there are plenty of boat tours that leave from the Puerto Vallarta Marina and will take you along the coastline of Bandera Bay and its surroundings.

If you are an outdoor lover you will find endless things to do in Puerto Vallarta to your heart’s content, including a dolphin tour that is also eco-friendly where you will go and look for dolphins in the wild.

And although you are not guaranteed to see them, the captains always know where to go and if you don’t find them you get reimbursed. So confident they are.

Book your whale-watching tour in Puerto Vallarta

Whale-watching in Hualien Taiwan

Hualien Taiwan
Hualien Taiwan

Hualien is Taiwan’s backyard with close proximity to nature and the ocean. The city is located on the east coast of the island and on the course of the humpback whale and sperm whale migration in the Pacific.

It is a great place for whale watching because it has a number of whale-watching tour agencies that take visitors a few times a day, and the chance of spotting a whale is very high during the peak season.  

The best months to go for whale watching in Hualien is between April and October, and the best time is usually between 11 am to 3 pm. The pleasant weather and sunlight reflected by the blue ocean water guarantee the best sighting of whales as they are swimming across the ocean. 

There are a number of agencies in the city where visitors can sign up for a boat trip while they arrive. However, it is recommended to pre-book the tour during summertime as the tours get filled up rather quickly due to the flock of the crowd. 

No visit to Hualien is complete without tasting the local food in the night markets, including Dongdamen Night Market and Hualien Night Market.

To go a little bit further, explore the Taiwanese art scene at the Hualien Creative Art Market, and head to the beautiful Taroko National Park. It is an impressive 19-kilometer long canyon that is famous to the world.

Book a tour – Full-Day Taroko National Park Tour from Hualien City

by Kenny, Knycx Journeying

Whale Watching in Maui – Hawaii

Whale watching in maui

If it’s humpback whales you’re hoping to see, plan a winter trip to Maui between December and March. It’s one of my favorite things to do in a 7-day itinerary in Maui. When I visited in January, locals were calling it “whale soup.” 

That’s because the warm shallow Auau Channel—between Maui, Moloka’i, and Lana’i—attracts humpback whale populations for mating, calving, and nursing their young during the winter. 

Due to whaling, humpback whales are an endangered species. However, since the international ban on commercial whaling, the humpback population is on the rebound.

In summer, they feed in Alaska but then, come winter they come to Hawaii to bear their young. In fact, Native Hawaiians revere them greatly and consider them to be “aumakua”, family guardians.

If you’re lucky, you’ll spot these gentle giants from the shore as I did one night over sunset cocktails at the beach. Watching a mother breech with her calf was mesmerizing!

In fact, calves can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and are up to 15 feet long. Adult humpbacks grow up to 40 feet and weigh more than 40 tons. The best spots for whale watching from shore are Lahaina, Ma’alea, and Honolua Bay.

But for more reliable sightings, consider a day tour from Lahaina. Just be sure to choose an eco-friendly tour with a naturalist. You’ll enjoy a more immersive, educational whale watching experience while also supporting an organization dedicated to protecting these magnificent creatures. It’s a win-win!

by Chris, Explore Now or Never

Whale Watching in Húsavík, North Iceland

Húsavík Iceland pier

Whale watching in Iceland has become more popular over the years and the tourism-related activity is now thankfully replacing the whale hunting industry in the north of Iceland. 

The heart of whale watching in Iceland is located in the small northern town of Húsavík.  This is a small, friendly town and is often included as part of a tour to the north.

There are a few companies that operate from the town and head out into the fjords each day in search of whales.  There is a choice of boats from fast RIBs to classic wooden sailing ships.  The owners all work together to provide the best experience so it is down to personal preference.  

The tours all leave from the main harbor area close to the church and take solo passengers. 

They provide all the warm waterproof clothing you need although it is best to dress in warm clothes under the outer layers they provide.

All the tours are half-day tours and can be combined with horse riding if you want to experience riding a traditional Icelandic horse or a visit to an island to see puffins

If the weather is poor the boats will reschedule or refund, so it is always worth having a plan B.  They will also offer a free tour if you don’t see any whales on your first trip.

The whale watching season is from April to October in Húsavīk but continues year-round in Reykjavík

You can expect to see up to 24 different species with the most common being blue whales, humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbor porpoise.

Húsavík is part of the Diamond Circle around the north of Iceland as well as the stunning Arctic Coast Way.  The town has an interesting whale museum which is worth visiting even if you see the whales on your tour. 

There is also the new Eurovision Museum dedicated to Iceland’s role in the competition.  On the cliffs on the edge of the town by the lighthouse is the beautiful GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths.

If Húsavík is too far to travel, then there are boats daily from Reykjavík to whale watch as well as a very good Whale Museum in the City.  Whale watching is also possible from Akureyri and Ísafjörður.

Book your whale watching tour from Húsavík

by Suzanne, Meandering Wild

Whale-watching in Nuquí – Colombia

Nuqui beach colombia

Nuquí, Colombia is one of the best places for whale watching in the world.  It is located on Colombia’s lesser-visited Pacific Coast, where humpback whales migrate from July to November, coming from the Antarctic to enjoy the warmer waters to mate and return to give birth the following year.  

Whale watching in Nuquí is unique because it’s still a relatively undiscovered destination, and visitors can enjoy the gorgeous, unspoiled Guachalito Beach nearby.

Nuquí can be reached by charter flights from Medellín.  It is also possible to travel by boat from the port town of Buenaventura, however, due to rough seas and safety concerns in Buenaventura, that is only for the very adventurous.

There are a number of eco-resorts, lodges, and hostels in the area, many of which offer package tours.  

This is a remote area of Colombia, so accommodations are not luxurious, but allow you to connect with nature and disconnect from the rest of the world.

The whales are most active during August and September.  

In addition to spending some time on the beach, it is also possible to take a boat ride to visit Utría National Park, north of Nuquí.  

There, you can see lots of birds in the mangrove swamps, and the bay’s calm waters are a favorite for whales and their calves.

by Adam McConnaughhay, Cartagena Explorer

Whale-watching in Antarctica – Wilhelmina Bay

zodiac close to a whale diving into the water with icebergs in the background
Photo © Pamela

One of the best places in the world for whale watching is Wilhelmina Bay in Antarctica. It’s often affectionately called “Whale-Mania Bay” because of the sheer number of humpback whales in the area. Often, you can see over 50 humpback whales feeding at one time. 

Visiting Antarctica can only be done in the summer months (November to March) by tourists. Most people travel by cruise ship from Ushuaia, Argentina, and most cruises make sure to stop in Wilhelmina Bay for whale watching.

Travelers can take zodiac boats to get an even closer look at these gentle giants. Every Antarctic cruise operator is certified in maintaining a safe distance from wildlife to keep the animals safe from human interaction. 

The waters of the bay are filled with krill – the staple food for many whales. Humpback whales dive down into the water, make a circle of bubbles to bring the krill to the surface, then come straight up out of the water to feed. This gives incredible views of the whales breaching and diving. 

There’s no whale watching in the world quite like in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica. 

Check out the spectacular Liveaboard cruises in Antarctica

by Pamela, The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Head of the Bight Whale Watching – Australia

Head of the Bight Australia
Photo © Natalie & Steve

When you go whale watching at the Head of the Bight in Australia, the experience is as much about the journey as it is the destination.

The Head of the Bight is a site on the Nullarbor Plain, a vast, treeless desert wilderness on Australia’s south coast. Its remoteness, endless horizons, and towering sea cliffs make it a compelling travel destination.

The Head of the Bight is a nursey for Southern Right Whales. Each year from June to October they migrate from Antarctica to calve.

Up to 150 whales and calves come to the area. Seeing the mothers and calves interact is one of the best things about the experience here. From the clifftop lookouts, you’ll see them breaching, tail slapping, and feeding.

The lookouts are accessed through the Head of the Bight Whale Watching Centre. There is a cost to get in – approximately AUD$16 per adult.

From the visitor center, you make your way down a long, zig-zagging boardwalk towards the water. There are stunning views of the sea cliffs and sand dunes as you make your way along. 

Many travelers will stop here as they do a Nullarbor Road Trip across the bottom of Australia between the east and west coasts.

The nearest capital city is Adelaide, 1100 kilometers to the east or Perth 1600 kilometers to the west. Campgrounds, accommodation, and fuel are available at the Nullarbor Roadhouse which is 20 minutes from the lookout.

The Nullarbor Plain is famous for its wide-open spaces, some people find the landscape quite overwhelming.

If you do the Nullarbor road trip, consider doing it with someone as the drive is very long and the scenery quite monotonous. Along the way, you can play golf on the world’s longest golf course and check out the remote township at Fowlers Bay.

by Natalie & Steve, Curious Campers

Whale Watching in Costa Rica

Humpback whale with a baby at sunset
Humpback whale with a baby at sunset

Without a doubt, Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world to see whales! First of all, there are so many different places across the country where it’s possible. Whale watching is one of the best things to do in Samara, Drake Bay, Puerto Jimenez, Uvita, Tortuguero, and more! 

The good thing about having so many destinations in one small country where you can see whales is that it is possible to see whales in Costa Rica most of the months of the year!

On the North Pacific Coast December-April is the best time whereas on the South Pacific Coast late July to November is best. On the Caribbean side, your best chance is in Tortuguero from December-March. 

There are various whales you can spot in Costa Rica including humpback whales, pilot whales, and blue whales. You will need to go on a cruise to have the best chance at spotting whales.

Whale-watching tours are frequent across the country and you can expect to pay around $100 USD per person for a tour. You’ll also have a good chance of spotting dolphins on any whale-watching tour

Book your whale watching tour in Samara Costa Rica

by Bailey, Costa Rica Travel Life

Whale-watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

A tail of a blue whale is diving into the water in Mirissa Sri Lanka
Photo © Claudia Tavani

Mirissa is the whale-watching capital of Sri Lanka, and it is known to be one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world. The chances of spotting blue whales – among the largest mammals in the world, reaching up to 30 meters in length – are quite high in this small coastal town.

The best season to go whale watching in Mirissa is November to April, with the highest chances between March and April. Whale watching expeditions depart every day at 7:00 am from the harbor, with several companies running tours.

Expeditions can last up to seven hours, with boats roaming the ocean in search of the animals, and – as it’s clearly stated by the crew before setting off – there is no actual guarantee that you will get to see them.

You will know when you are about to spot one, as the captain will be observing the sea for traces of them. Whales will spit out water before emerging to catch their breath (they can’t hold it for too long) and the crew will immediately warn passengers by saying “tail up”.

The moment you get to spot the whales is absolutely thrilling. Mind you – boats are kept at a safe distance so as not to disturb the animals. It really is up to them to decide if they want to get closer.

Whale watching in Mirissa is actually not as cheap as you’d hope – considering Sri Lanka is a rather cheap country. Expect to pay up to $65 USD for a tour. You can scout for tour options locally, or you can also book the tour online.

Book your snorkeling with whales tour in Mirissa

by Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across The World

Whale watching in Hervey Bay Queensland Australia

humpback whale

Hervey Bay in the Wide Bay region of Queensland is known as the whale watching capital of Australia.

Situated approximately 290 km north of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Hervey Bay attracts local and international tourists who visit to get up close and personal with migrating humpback whales that visit the region annually between July and November.

During the whale watching season, tours operate daily for half and full-day tours and the operators guarantee whale sightings.

There are plenty of tours to choose from and most depart from the Great Sandy Straits Marina at Urangan a suburb of Hervey Bay along the foreshore.

The foreshore esplanade of Hervey Bay stretches 17 km from the northern point of the bay at Point Vernon to Urangan. Along the esplanade, there are many resorts, caravan parks, and hotels with direct ocean views and this is where most visitors choose to stay in Hervey Bay.

Although the tours depart from the marina at Urangan, they all offer hotel pick-up to the hotels and resorts along the foreshore. You can also stay directly at the marina at one of the many resorts within walking distance of the marina and the vibrant restaurant and shopping precinct. 

Apart from whale watching, Hervey Bay is also the departure point for the nearby world heritage listed Fraser Island (K’gari). The largest sand island in the world and no stay in Hervey Bay would be complete without taking a day tour to the Island where you can relax on pristine white sandy beaches, explore the rainforest, or see the whales.

I have taken both the half-day and the full-day tours, and each time had a wonderful experience marveling at these majestic marine creatures. 

If you are looking for one of the best places for whale watching in the world Hervey Bay has it all.

Book your whale-watching tour from Hervey Bay

By Alan CuthbertsonFrequent Traveller

Whale-watching in Cape Verde

Cape Verde coast
Photo © Paulina

Cape Verde is one of the best places in the world to experience whale-watching because the waters around the islands are the seedbed for large humpback whales.

Humpback whales are geographically widely spread and are found in oceans across the world, including Cape Verde.

And Boa Vista is the best island for the activity but you should be there by March and April if you want to have better chances to see these majestic and fascinating creatures.

The best way for the sighting is a Catamaran tour. Do not forget to wear warm clothes because the winds during the excursion can be pretty unpredictable.

The boat trip can last around 3 hours and you can spend the rest of the day enjoying other things to do in Cape Verde.

You can enjoy windsurfing at Boa Vista, exploring the Viana Desert, visiting Sal Rei for a more cultural and atmospheric feel, or grabbing a meal at Perola D’Chaves. You can also skip the other activities and enjoy the view of the waters on the boat tour.

by Paulina, Paulina on the road

Whalewatching in Samana, Dominican Republic

humpback whale in Samana DR

One of the best places in the world to watch humpback whales is from the Bay of Samana, located on the Dominican Republic north coast.

From January through March, these humpback whales migrate to the Samana region to mate. And during this time, travelers can go on a boat tour from the Samana port and into the Atlantic Ocean where they can catch a sight of the whales in their natural mating grounds. 

You’ll also likely hear their courting songs and see them do flips into the air. 

This unique excursion is one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic for all types of travelers–whether you’re solo traveling or taking family/children with you.

The region of Samana also offers a world of things to do and see from cute beach towns to lush jungle treehouses and waterfalls.

The prices for these boat tours to see the whales will vary depending on the tour operator. Generally, the cost is around $50 USD. I recommend going on one of the more reputable tours like Whale Samana where you can learn about the whales with conservationist Kim Beddall.

Beware: If you are sensitive to seasickness, make sure to check that the ocean is not choppy the week you go. Since this is the Atlantic Ocean, the boats can sometimes rock too much which causes terrible seasickness for some people. 

Book your whale watching tour in Samana

by Gerry Isabelle of Dominican Abroad

Whale-watching in Walker Bay Hermanus – South Africa

whales mother and calfs in south africa ocean

The spectacular seaside town Hermanus, situated in Walker Bay on the South Coast of South Africa is rated by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) as one of the 12 best whale-watching destinations in the world.

Several different species can be seen on expeditions whale watching from Hermanus. The Southern Right whale is what the area is famous for.

These whales migrate from the Antarctic every year around June to calve and mate and the population in Walker Bay reaches a peak in October when males arrive for mating. What makes Hermanus really special is the land-based whale watching, maybe the best in the world.

In the season the Southern Right whales can be seen from shore in the area, coming as close as 5m from the rocky shore. The town has a beautiful 12 km long cliff path with excellent vantage points to view the whales.

There is even a whale-crier that walks along the coast blowing through his kelp horn telling visitors of whale sightings.

For the best whale viewing a boat-based whale, a cruise is the best option. Southern Right whales are not the only animals that can be seen on ocean expeditions.

Other marine animals including Humpback whales, Bryde’s whales, Great White sharks, seals, dolphins, and penguins are often seen on cruises in the area.

Hermanus also offers world-class wine farms, excellent restaurants, and a huge variety of museums and adventure activities. Southern Right whales can be seen from early June to early December, but the peak season is late September/early October.

by Campbell Louw, Stingy Nomads

Puerto Madryn – Argentina

Puerto Maydrin
Photo © Deborah

Puerto Madryn is a city, located on the East coast of Argentina, and the gateway to one of the best places to see whales in South America.

Every year between May and December, hundreds of humpback whales travel from Antarctica to Argentina. They find a place to mate and raise their young here every year again and again. Because mothers are very protective of their young, they stay close to the shore and surface.

Therefore, there is a very big chance of actually seeing them. And if you are lucky they will really be around the boat for hours. The best time to spot the whales is in September and October, when the young are just born.

Tours leave from the little village Puerto Pirámides, located in the Peninsula Valdés National park, next to Puerto Madryn city.

There are different tour possibilities from 1.5 to 3 hours. You can go with a regular boat up to 50 people or a smaller boat with a maximum of 10 people. The last option is really recommended, as you will have the time and space to take amazing pictures.

If you have more time, it is worth spending the night in the town of Puerto Pirámides. This way you have the opportunity to wake up and see the whales from your window. But even if you are staying in the city of Puerto Madryn, there are often whales to observe from the boulevard.

Other great things to do in Puerto Madryn include a visit to the penguin colony of Punta Tombo and a tour around the Peninsula Valdés, a  Patagonia Flora and Fauna reservation with many birds, sea lions, elephant seals, penguins and sometimes even orcas to observe.

by Deborah from Passport the World

Whale-watching in Tenerife

Tenerife whale watching

In 2021, the World Cetacean Alliance rewarded the Tenerife-La Gomera Marine Area with the title of the Whale Heritage Site, the first of its kind in Europe. That special certificate already testifies how whale watching in Tenerife could provide some of the best close encounters with these fantastic sea mammals.

The Spanish island off the coast of Africa has one of the bulkiest whale/dolphin watching industries in the world! It generates 42 million Euros per year from 1,4 million tourists who flock to the Canary Islands in order to meet whales.  

The whale watching tour options are numerous, and I chose the one that seemed rather authentic. On an original sailing boat constructed in 1978 for an Arabian Sheikh, the solo travelers like me, as well as couples and groups like others, all became one enthusiastic family of sea explorers. 

The day trip took us to the majestic cliffs of Los Gigantes (a great place for a swim!). On the way, armed with binoculars and cameras, we managed to meet several groups of Pilot whales, the resident species of Tenerife.    

Besides Short-finned pilot whales, whose sighting probability in this area is at 90 percent, the most frequently seen cetaceans are Bottlenose dolphins. However, the deep and warm sea between the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera attracts 21 additional, migratory species. If you are lucky, you might meet even Sperm whalesKiller whalesHumpback whalesBlue whales, and many other whales and dolphins!  

Permanent residents of Tenerife waters guarantee that you would be able to meet whales whenever you visit. For passer-by species, November-April is the suggested time for whale watching.  

Just like whales, the tourist species also love to migrate to Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.

Sunbathing on its black beaches, enjoying the highest concentration of 5-stars hotels in Europe, exploring the local food traditions, hiking the third-largest volcano in the world, and even seeing bountiful endemic species of plants (try to put Botanical garden Tenerife on your list, my personal favorite), make a recipe for fantastic holidays.

by IvanPipeaway

Spotting Gray and Humpback whales in Tofino – Vancouver Canada

Gray whales watching in Tofino
Photo © Debbie

Tofino is a well-known beach town on the west coast of Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia. There are two places in the area to whale watch, launching from Tofino, or 35 minutes south in Ucluelet. If you are adventuring in Tofino, you do not want to miss Ucluelet too! 

Both locations offer exceptional whale watching. Launching from Tofino will take you into Clayoquot Sound, while launching from Ucluelet will take you into Barkley Sound.

It is estimated that every year between March and April, a whopping 19,000 Gray Whales migrate through the Pacific Rim, with some staying within Barkley and Clayquot Sound. 

The whale watching season is from March to October. The most common whales in the area are Humpback (May to September), and Gray whales (March to November).

From time to time some transient Orcas can pass through, but it is so random that you would be extremely lucky to have a sighting of the Orcas too. Humpback whales feed in the inlets, so sightings of them happen farther offshore. 

The best way to see the whales is on a boat tour; some come with a sighting guarantee. You will also likely see sea otters and sea lions on your adventure.

After you are done exploring from the water, catch some waves or relax at one of the dreamy beaches, go hiking to a plane wreck, and savor some delicious food from the famous Tacofino. Tofino is an outdoor paradise! 

Debbie FettbackWorld Adventurist

Whale watching in Turks & Caicos (Salt Cay)

WHale swimming in turks and caicos
Photo © Lindsey

From January – March, Turks & Caicos is an incredible place to go whale watching. Humpback whales come to the warm waters here to give birth and raise their calves during this time.

Turks & Caicos consists of 8 different inhabited islands and cays. The tiny island of Salt Cay is the best spot for whale watching in Turks & Caicos. I was here in January and February and saw whales every time I got in a boat. You can even see whales from the shores of Salt Cay.

Another incredibly unique whale experience to have while visiting Salt Cay is to snorkel with humpback whales. Yes, you read that right, you can snorkel with humpback whales in Salt Cay! It’s one of the best things to do in Turks & Caicos during this time of year. 

There are a couple of companies that offer this experience, I recommend Salt Cay Divers. I also recommend staying on Salt Cay for at least a couple of nights to ensure you have plenty of opportunities to see and swim with the whales. 

The way this experience works is when your captain sees signs of whales, they will boat near them and kill the engine. Then, you’ll slip into the water with your snorkel gear and watch the whales from a safe distance.

However, don’t be surprised if the whales are curious and swim right up to you! I had this happen a couple of times, and it was the most amazing experience I’ve had while traveling. 

By Lindsey Puls of Have Clothes, Will Travel

Whale Watching in Juan Islands in Washington State – US

Juan Island at sunset

If you’re searching for one of the best places to see whales in the world, you’ll want to add the San Juan Islands in Washington State to your list. Since it’s home to three pods of Orcas, also known as killer whales, your chances of seeing them are quite good.

The best way to get as close as possible is to take a boat tour. The captains of these excursions are well acquainted with where to find the whales and some tout a 90% success rate for spotting whales while out on tours. San Juan Safaris even offers a sunset whale watching tour, which is a favorite among tourists as well as the crew!

Lime Kiln State Park in Friday Harbor is your best bet for seeing whales from the shore and is appropriately nicknamed “whale watch park.” If you’d rather not take the boat tour, but still want to enjoy spotting the whales, plan to make a trip here instead. 

Having lived in the Puget Sound area for many years, I’ve had the opportunity to take whale watching tours and enjoyed them very much. I’ve also spotted many a whale from the shore and although it’s not as up close and personal, it’s still very exciting to see them.

Summer is the perfect time to visit Washington State, which is great since prime whale-watching time is mid-June through early September. The whales are there year-round, but the weather isn’t as cooperative for spotting them during winter and spring.

If you’re visiting Seattle, you can either take the Seattle Clipper for a beautiful ferry ride to the San Juan Islands or drive north to Anacortes and take a shorter ferry ride from there. 

Both Friday Harbor and Anacortes are quaint coastal towns that are worth spending part of a day exploring, which will make your whale-watching excursion even more enjoyable.

By Karee, Our Woven Journey

Gray whales watching in Oregon Coast US

Cape Kiwanda - Oregon Coast

Not only is the Oregon coast stunning, with its iconic sea stacks and rugged cliffs, but it’s also a fantastic place to spot whales. 

While you can see a variety of whales in Oregon, from orcas to blue whales (the largest animal on the planet!), Oregon’s whale-watching claim to fame is serving as an excellent location for observing gray whales.

In fact, 20,000 gray whales pass along Oregon’s coastline each year during their 12,000-mile migration, from spending the summer in the Bering Sea to relocating to the warm lagoons of the Baja peninsula in Mexico.

As such, you’ll want to time your visit with their migration, either in the winter (mid-December–mid-January) or spring (late February–May).

If you’re looking to go on a whale-watching cruise (which can be a great way to meet other travelers!), you may want to consider heading to the bustling coastal town of Newport, which has quite a few tour operators, like Whale’s Tail Charters, that provide a variety of excursions.

The town of Newport is worth exploring as well, with a historic lighthouse, a handful of local breweries, and several charming restaurants.

If you’d prefer a land-bound way to observe whales (or are simply looking for something more affordable than a tour), there are several spots along the coastline that provide high vantage points- and excellent whale-viewing opportunities. 

For example, Cape Kiwanda, in the town of Pacific City offers towering sand dunes- some 250 feet high!- that you can climb up to get unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean as far as the eye can see.

Add in the picturesque monolith, Haystack Rock, rising out of the blue waters over 340 feet and you’ve got quite the epic spot to whale watch- during peak migration, you can spot up to 30 whales per hour here (just don’t forget your binoculars)!

Once you’ve had your fill whale-watching, consider hanging out at the beautiful Pacific City Beach at the foot of Cape Kiwanda or grabbing a beer at Pelican Brewing- literally on the beach itself- to catch one of the Oregon coast’s famed sunsets.

Jessica Schmit, Uprooted Traveler

Whale Watching in Boston and Cape Cod, Massachusetts US

Cape Code Harbor

One of the best places in the world for whale watching is off the coast of Massachusetts. Whether you are visiting Boston or nearby Cape Cod, tours depart from both areas so you can be sure to have an incredible marine adventure from either location. 

From April through October, whales frequent the coast of Massachusetts which makes it an ideal time for whale watching. 

Visitors will be in awe of the range of majestic creatures breaching the surface, which include humpback, pilot, and blue whales. 

Most tours travel about 25 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which is a feeding ground area for the whales and therefore the best place to see a lot of whale activity. 

If you choose to do a tour out of Boston, the New England Aquarium Whale Watch Cruise with Boston Harbor City Cruises is a great one to do. 

A daytime cruise, is about a 3-4 hour cruise on a high-speed boat, with guaranteed sightings, and lots of viewing opportunities while naturalists from the New England Aquarium accompany the tour.

Conveniently located, this boat departs from Long Wharf, right in front of the New England Aquarium.  If you are spending time on Cape Cod, you can also find great whale watching tours through Hyannis Whale Watching Cruises out of Barnstable, Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch out of Provincetown, and Captain John Boats out of Provincetown or Plymouth. 

Whether you are traveling to Massachusetts as a solo traveler or with family, whale watching is one of the best things to do in Cape Cod and Boston.

by Keri, Bon Voyage With Kids

Whale watching from Maldive – South Ari Atoll

Photo © Clotilde

The Maldives, with their white beaches, palm trees bending to the water, and small deserted islands where you can get away from the world, evoke scenarios for the perfect honeymoon or dream trip to take with your other half!

This was perhaps true until about ten years ago, but since the government changed the law that now allows foreigners to visit local islands, everything has changed.

The Maldives has become a much more affordable destination open to different types of travelers such as families and solo travelers, who, even if attracted by all-inclusive resorts, prefer to combine their stay by discovering remote atolls where they can still get in touch with the locals in the truest way.

As if that weren’t enough, this earthly paradise also offers one of the best chances to meet whale sharks. For this special meeting, you will have to join a day tour, with different options depending on which atoll you are departing from, for an unforgettable experience.

If you decide to visit the Maldives on a budget by combining a few days in a resort island and a few days on the local islands, the best thing is to organize these day trips while staying on the local island. The costs are considerably lower, and the sighting possibilities do not change.

The greatest chances of a sighting are near the South Ari Atoll where all year round (even if from May to September there are fewer sightings) you can swim with these giants of the sea.

Swimming with whale sharks is an incredible experience and in the Maldives, it is also strictly controlled in order to remain sustainable over time.

The animals cannot be touched, they are not fed so as not to encourage them to return, and only a limited number of boats can go out for sightings every day. A once in a lifetime experience not to be missed!

by Clotilde Passalacqua, A Princess Travelling with Twins

I hope these incredible places where to see whales in the world inspired you to find your next destination and see these beautiful creatures of the underwater world.