Last updated on September 12th, 2016
Anyone who’s ever seen a whale boldly breaching the waves will tell you it’s the experience of a lifetime. There’s something really magical about these gentle giants, and there are great spots all over the world for watching them. Here are our top 5 whale watching places in the world. Do share this list with your loved ones.
Top 5 Whale Watching Places in the World:
1 – Kaikoura, New Zealand
Kaikoura is a small town with a big reputation as a center for eco-tourism and the best whale watching places in the world. It’s located on the eastern coast of South Island in New Zealand and blessed with a truly spectacular array of marine life. You’ll find fur seals, dolphins, and seafaring birds in addition to sperm whales year-round and seasonal visits from humpbacks, pilot whales, and even the great blues.
This rich and diverse population is attracted to Kaikoura by the deep underwater canyon that flanks its shores. Whale-watchers, naturally, are attracted by the whales — and there are many different ways to see them, from simply walking along the gorgeous shores to flying over the water in a 4-seater Cessna.
2 – Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod was a center of American whaling in the early 17th century, and today it’s one of the best whale watching places in the world. In fact, whales are so common here that many of the local whale-watching tours will give you your money back if you don’t see a whale during the peak season between April and October.
Humpback, minke and finback whales are regularly spotted gliding through the Atlantic waters around Cape Cod, and every now and then you’ll have the rare sight of a northern right whale with her calf in the spring.
3 – Hermanus, South Africa
If you needed an excuse to visit the Riviera of the South, this is it. Hermanus is located all the way at the southernmost point of the African continent, in beautiful Walker Bay, and its lovely coastline is graced with whale sightings directly from the shore. Already a great tourist destination, the warm, shallow ocean water here attracts southern right whales during the mating and breeding season — May through December.
You can walk along a 6 mile cliffside path to see adults and their calves at play. There are benches, telescopes, and lots of whale information along the way. Hermanus hosts an annual whale festival every year at the end of September, so that’s a great time to arrive.
4 – The Azores, Portugal
The Azores are a chain of volcanic islands with plenty of natural beauty. And April through October, the blue Atlantic waters here are filled with sperm whales, northern bottlenose, pilot whales, and even the spectacular great blue whales.
Locals will tell you the best spots for whale-watching are between the islands of Faial, Pico, and Sao Jorge — and the snow-capped top of Ponta do Pico makes an incredible scenic backdrop. Do your viewing on shore from towers called “vigias” or take a boat tour to get up close and personal.
5 – Los Cabos, Mexico
Could there possibly be a more perfect destination for whale-watching than Los Cabos? With immaculate beaches, fabulous luxury resorts, and a perfect climate all year, there are already a lot of reasons to spend time here. But January through April, Los Cabos is also home to a large population of migrating gray whales, humpbacks, great blues, and sperm whales.
Every year these long-distance travelers swim 6000 miles from Alaska to the warm lagoons of Los Cabos to mate and raise their calves. Boat tours for whale-watching are plentiful here, and you’ll likely see adults breaching and spouting, and babies at play.
Just missing the cut, but still spectacular destinations for whale-watching are:
- Maui, Hawaii
- Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia
- Orcas Island, Washington/San Juan Islands, Vancouver, Canada
- San Diego, California
- Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Perce/Tadoussac, Quebec, Canada