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Top 6 places for whale watching

28 August 2015

Orca Whale

Updated March 2017

Wildlife encounters are often some of the most treasured memories from our holidays and the first photos to be shared with loved ones; there is nothing like witnessing local wildlife in its own habitat when visiting and exploring new destinations.  One of the best and most meaningful wildlife encounters you can have is to observe whales in the wild and feel the magnitude of the surrounding ocean. Graceful and hypnotic to watch, whether they are simply steering their newborn calves or breaching in an impressive acrobatic manner, these ocean rulers create a sight to behold and an event you won’t want to miss.

Find your next best wildlife encounter with these top 6 destinations for whale watching.


Wildlife spotting is a huge pull for Alaska with whale watching ranking very highly on the list of must do Alaskan activities. Whale watching tours are in abundance from May to September and it won’t take long for you to spot a mighty humpback whale making their presence known. Head to Beluga Point to see a lively pod in the spring or the infamous killer whales at The Inside Passage in the summer.

Hear it from our experts “I highly recommend a whale watching tour in Alaska. We went out on a small boat for about five hours and within twenty minutes we were surrounded by twenty Orcas swimming right up to the boat. Further into the trip we saw another twenty Humpback Whales. You never get bored of something like that.” – Kerri Mccaulay, Senior Sales Consultant


Recognised as one of Europe’s best whale watching destinations where you can spot several extraordinary species including Humpback, Blue Whale, Sperm, Orca and many more, Iceland is a pretty cool hotspot for wildlife fans.  The best time for whale watching off the coast of Iceland is during the summer months from April to September. During this time ships will leave daily from the famous Old Harbour in Reykjavik on the lookout for spectacular marine life. The blend of cold Arctic sea with the warmer North Atlantic Ocean attracts up to 23 different species of whale to the waters surrounding Iceland. Shallow depths and long daylight hours in the summer (extra bonus of visiting at this time) make ideal feeding conditions meaning you should see a few tail flukes as the whales dive deep to feed. Breathtaking Icelandic coastlines add to this unbeatable experience.


Soak up some serious sunshine and sip a tequila cocktail whilst whale watching in Mexico.  Every year the Baja California Sur region off the Pacific Coast of Mexico welcomes thousands of California Gray whales to its warm waters. You can witness these magnificent creatures migrating south from the cold seas of Alaska as they seek the warmth and protection of Mexican lagoons for breeding and calving. This means that if you head to well-known whale watching spots such as Laguna Ojo de Liebre (aka Scammon’s Lagoon) or Bahía Magdalena from mid December to March, you should be lucky enough to witness mother and calf pairings. Gray whales are Baleen which means they possess comb-like plates in place of teeth; other features include having two blowholes and lacking a dorsal fin.

Azores, Portugal

The best time of year to witness whales from the Azores islands is fortunately all year round. Due to a great location on a well-known whale migration pass in the North Atlantic Ocean plus some resident species staying close by, the Azores islands experience whale sightings round the clock. Once a hotspot for the whaling industry but thankfully now just for wildlife fans, more than 20 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are sighted here frequently. Peak times which also experience a high volume in tourists are around late July and August and the best spots for whale watching can be from Sao Miguel, Terceira, Faial, and Pico. Witness the majestic Blue Whale in the warm waters between Sao Miguel and Santa Maria during the spring.


Australia is an attractive destination for whale watching as several species can be seen from numerous lookout points countrywide. Head to the east coast of Australia between the months of April to November to witness the magnificent Humpback whales making their annual migration north from the cold Antarctic waters. Prime lookout points include Hervey Bay, Byron Bay and the coastal town of Eden in New South Wales. The grand Southern Right whale, easily identified by a head that measures one third of its entire length, can be spotted from Adventure Bay and Great Oyster Bay in Tasmania during migrating season and also Encounter Coast in South Australia May to September. Western Australia sees its fair share of whales and wildlife fans can lookout for breeding and calving Humpbacks from August to September in Cape Leveque but also migrating whales in the southern waters of Perth. Dolphin spotting and beautiful beaches make Australia an ideal holiday destination whilst on the lookout for whales.

South Africa

South Africa is famously known for its animated and diverse marine life, from feeding Great White Sharks to lively pods of dolphins and seals, quirky penguins and of course several grand species of whale. The southern coastal town of Hermanus in the Western Cape is notoriously known as a great whale watching spot. From June to November, Southern Right whales are sighted here seeking perfect breeding grounds, sightings can be made from land as this is known as the best land based whale watching location in the world. Other notable species visible from this spot include Humpback, Orca, Minke and Bryde. Algoa Bay and Plettenberg Bay along the southern coast should also be key stop off points for any whale enthusiasts when visiting South Africa.

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