Whale Watching. Where to see the biggest animals in the world close up.
Whale watching is a combination of serene calm moments at sea and then the totally unexpected bursting of whales shooting out of the water, often very near you. An unforgettable sight to connect with the kings of the sea.
Here you can get a first introduction to whale watching around the world. We have chosen to take a closer look at some of the whale sites personally visited and places with the highest guarantee of amazing whale watching. Traveltalk looks at whale watching in many countries:
Norway – northern Norway is known for an abundance of whales
Iceland – without the whales “sustaining” the country historically, Iceland would not have been the same country placed in the middle of North Atlantic, a perfect spot for whale watching
South Africa -Hermanus, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa is famous for whales
The Azores archipelago, a favorite spot to watch whales sailing out from the green islands in the middle of the Atlantic
The Sea of Cortez Baja Mexico and California is the place to see real big whales and known as one of the most beautiful seas of this world
Maui’s waters (Hawaii) from mid-December to mid-April is filled with more than 1000 whales
Cod National Seashore is a beautiful 40-mile stretch for great humpback whale safari in the US
Costa Rica for almost all year round humpback watching
Valdés Peninsula, Argentina, where the killer whale feasts
Tonga, in Oceania. Possibly only place to go swimming with humpback whales
Newport Beach, California, for spotting both dolphins and killer whales
North Cape Cod, Massachusetts, a plethora of sea animals like hiúmpback whales and dolphins
Read about whale safaris in these so very different places and more below.
Happy whale safari!
You on deck, relaxing and then a 30 tons Humpback whale rises out of the water 15 feet away
Imagine a lazy summer afternoon on a boat in a gentle rolling ocean. A good breeze gently massages your face where you sit, and you start to close your eyes and walk away … the sound of the ship’s engine begins to fade and eventually stops. The boat, like you, moves on the waves and follows the breeze. It is very calm, and after a stressful week, you feel in harmony with the world.
Then something burst … out of the water … within a few feet from your face! Whoa! A 30-ton humpback … the length of a bus … breaks … and in another second, it’s gone. And you are left in disbelief and amazement.
Whale watching is a fascinating, entertaining, and exhilarating adventure trip. This is a show with the largest mammals on earth as protagonists. Whales are majestic and elegant giants, whose movements seem easy, choreographed, and yet playful.
And it’s just the beginning of your whale watching never to be forgotten experience!
Whale watching is a great way to experience marine life up close and personal. Whale watching began in the mid-1950s when the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego was allowed to be seen publicly by gray whales. After this whale watching, it spread across the nation like wildfire. Various locations are excellent hot spots for viewing many different species of whales.
We bring you the best places to go see whales around the world. See below!
Whales around Northern Norway
Strategically located between the famous tourist destinations such as Lofoten and North Cape, you find Andenes and Hvalsafari AS (Whalesafari Andenes). The company is the first, largest and most experienced provider of whale watching in Norway. Since the start in 1989 Andenes and Hvalsafari have gained unique experience and knowledge, which makes our crew the best when it comes to searching for whales. Andenes and Hvalsafari can therefore offer you 100% whale guarantee!
Link to Andenes and Hvalsafari in Norway
Whale watching in the Azores, Portugal territory
The Azores archipelago is a region of Portugal that is made up of nine volcanic islands located right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They are located about 930 miles (1,500 km) west of Lisbon in Portugal and 2,400 miles (3,900 km) from North America.
These remote Portuguese islands happen to be one of the most popular destinations for whale watching in the world due to the sheer number and diversity of not only whales but the dolphins found here.
In the spring, when the migratory whales pass, you have a good opportunity to see humpbacks, Sei, and the two largest species of whales: blue and fin. Peak season runs through April through September, but visit in April and May for the best chance to see a great blue.
Like many other whale watching spots, a variety of bird species is not far away. Egrets, gulls, storm petrels, and more flock to this region in the Azores, making it a paradise for animal lovers.
Visitors can see the gentle monsters from the ground watchtowers known as “vigias,” or they can board tourist boats for a closer look. You can also see sperm whales, pilot, and northern bottlenose whales.
Baja Mexico, where the big whales go to gather
The Sea of Cortez Baja Mexico and California are one of the most beautiful seas in the world. It is known as the aquarium of Mexico due to the great biodiversity that is within its limits. Between December and April, whales gather here to give birth and reproduce.
Just off the Baja coast is where gray whales give birth to their young before making an unimaginable migration to Alaska to capitalize on summer feeding.
From December to April, you are almost guaranteed to see gray or humpback whales on this peninsula. The humpbacks are probably the easiest to spot: they almost perfectly match the mental image of a whale that basically spins out of the water.
The story goes on that these gray whales are particularly interested in interacting with humans and feeding their curiosity.
Reykjavik Iceland, no shortage of whales
Here you can see more than 20 species of whales and dolphins, including minke, fin, sperm, humpback, blue whales and orca. Some of these cetaceans can be observed throughout the year, but the high season is from June to August when operators report a very high success rate.
Icelandic whale watching expeditions can also offer a different kind of unique experience than any other trip in other parts of the world. Included on some tours, a boat ride to the puffin nesting colonies also allows for a display of the Northern Lights. Auroras are caused by particles that enter the atmosphere and produce optical emissions. Basically, stunning lights apparently float from the edge of the globe.
The excursions last approximately 3 to 4 hours.
There are boat trips to whale watching in Iceland in the cities of Husavik, Dalvik, and Hauganes, as well as in the nation’s capital Reykjavik.
Whales around Northern Norway
Strategically located between the famous tourist destinations such as Lofoten and North Cape, you find Andenes and Hvalsafari AS (Whalesafari Andenes). The company is the first, largest and most experienced provider of whale watching in Norway. Since the start in 1989 Andenes and Hvalsafari have gained unique experience and knowledge, which makes our crew the best when it comes to searching for whales. Andenes and Hvalsafar can therefore offer you 100% whale guarantee!
Link to Andenes and Hvalsafari in Norway
Hermanus, South Africa
Hermanus, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, is famous for whale watching and the annual festival held in September to welcome animals and the spring season. From June to January, whales are sighted here in the open sea or in the small coves and inlets. The species of brydes, humpback, and southern right whales are a great attraction for whale watchers. Along the False Bay coast and on the west coast, there are more whale watching areas.
The southern right whale is the most commonly seen, with daily sightings of these majestic giants virtually guaranteed in September and October. This fishing village is one of the best places in the world for whale watching on land, ideal for those who prefer to stay on dry land.
The whale watching season begins in November. The largest number of whales travel through Maui’s waters from mid-December to mid-April. The peak occurs in mid-January. Every year between 1,500 and 2,000 whales migrate from the Arctic, covering a distance of 3,000 miles. The estimated time is about 80 to 100 days. The favorite hunting spot for whales is the quiet bay areas that lie between the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.
Maui’s clear water makes it easy to see the magnificent creatures from sunrise to sunset. Male humpback whales vocalize their otherworldly songs for up to half an hour at a time.
Costa Rica, humpback convention
It’s almost impossible to avoid seeing some amazing creatures on a trip to Costa Rica, from sloths to little glass frogs. Thanks to two migratory herds of humpback whales that visit the coasts of Costa Rica at different times, you will be able to see them almost all year round, with only June and July in the low season. In addition to humpback whales, you can also see fin whales, Sei whales, and sperm whales. They are mainly seen in the south of the country near the Marino Ballena National Park, but occasionally can be seen in the north
North Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States
Cod National Seashore is a beautiful 40-mile stretch of sand dunes and picturesque lighthouses off the Massachusetts coast. At its northern end, Provincetown is a popular tourist destination with its colorful center filled with all kinds of restaurants, from seafood shacks to dining options, upscale shopping, art galleries, and grand mansions. It is also a fantastic place for whale watching as the trips that depart from here provide an opportunity to marvel at humpback whales along with dolphins, seals, and other sea creatures. The season begins in mid-April and excursions run through October, although the best time for a tour is from May and June, with an unprecedented number of whales typically seen during this time period.
Valdés Peninsula, where the killer whale feasts
The Valdés Peninsula is located on the Atlantic coast of the Chubut province in Argentina. A protected area, the arched shoreline of the peninsula, is home to large populations of seals and sea lions, which attract killer whales during spring. Although they are actually members of the dolphin family, killer whales are commonly known as killer whales. Whale watchers can sometimes see killer whales riding the waves onto the beach to catch sea lion cubs. Southern Right Whales abound from July to November, and can often be seen raising their fins in the air. In the calm waters of this peninsula, the whales mate and give birth.
Tonga, swimming with humpback whales, a rare treat
This Polynesian archipelago is one of the few places in the world that allows swimming with humpback whales, which travel here from Antarctica each year to mate and give birth. During the whale season from July to October, you will have a good chance to find courtship rituals, sing (humpback whales are known for their vocal talents) or a mother with her calf.
Georgia Straight, B.C., Canada, so many whales, but the Orca is amazing
With such an enormous amount of coastline, Canada is known for having some of the best whale-watching expeditions in the world. The Pacific waters offer a wide variety of species and not just whales. The Strait of Georgia is home to highly social orca whale populations. Take Victoria and Vancouver boats between May and October to see the whales and other animals that inhabit these waters. Humpback whales, Pacific white-faced dolphins, and, of course, sea lions are also present. Unfortunately, sea lions, while adorable and cuddly to humans, are the killer’s killer favorite snack; which is what gives them the nickname “killer whales.” While sea lion cubs look gorgeous along shorelines, killer whales use their sonar to break into their food. This is an amazing opportunity to see the food chain in action.
Visit Canada, an intro to one the world´s biggest countries.
Newport Beach, California, dolphins and killer whales
There is a diverse abundance of marine mammals and birds available in large, diverse numbers here with many easily accessible points available via tours. Gray, Blue, and humpback whales are seen due to migration patterns, while fin and minke whales can be seen most of the year. Some dolphins and killer whales are also found in the area. Gray whales migrate from January to May, with a peak in March. Humpbacks have a similar pattern, while fins and blue whales have their peak of sightings in the summer. Islands offshore are where seals, sea lions, and sea otters call home, while seagulls, puffins, and pelicans, nest in the same area. Some of the migratory birds follow the same seasons as the humpback, as they travel back to the Arctic in the summer and return to the south in the winter. It doesn’t matter if, at the beginning of the year or during the August heat, California offers plenty of whale-watching opportunities.
La Gomera, pilot and bill whales
You don’t need to travel far to see the mammals that inhabit the sea. The peaceful Canary Island La Gomera, located under the radar, is right next to Tenerife, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, making it a perfect area for whale watching. There are close to 300 whales that frequent these coasts, including pilot, sperm, and bill whales. La Gomera is such a popular marine life highway. The mammals can be seen most of the year. Boat trips run from coastal towns across the island.
See our new travel interest page “Nature vacation”
Another country to visit to see whales is the Faroe Islands