Best Whale Watching Destinations
There are really only two things you need to know for a successful whale-watching trip: planning and patience. Planning is essential because there are certain whale spots that are hot, those are the ones where you have the best chance of seeing whales and due to the fact that larger species tend to split their lives between feeding grounds and breeding grounds, they rarely stay in one place for more than a few months at a time.
Patience is important because even when you're lucky whales can be tricky to find. That said, most commercial whale watching trips have a surprisingly high success rate and many offer guarantee sightings in the unlikely event you don't see a whale, you get another free trip another day. Most whale watching trips tend to concentrate on well-known whale populations at peak seasons. Here are a few of the favorite locations:
Alaska, United States
The 49th state is arguably probably best known for its great wildlife spectacles including humpback whales lunge feeding. These groups of humpbacks make enormous circular fishing nets with bubbles to catch shoals of herring then they launch themselves high into the air with their mouth wide open.
Canada and its frozen north is a place to go for three specific Arctic whale species. Churchill is good for spotting belugas and one can see them relatively easily. Baffin Island has belugas, Narwhals and Bowheads. One can camp on the ice near their feeding grounds or search from an expedition cruise ship. The best months are from June to August.
The Nature Island has a small resident population of sperm whales off its coast, often visible from shore. Half day trips are a good way to see them and if you do not they will be lots of smaller whales and dolphins. Sperm whales are present year-round but whale watching is best from November to April.
Baja California, Mexico
The Pacific coast of Mexico was arguably the best place in the world for the sheer variety of friendly gray whales in their breeding lagoons. One can see singing humpback whales off the Peninsula southern tip and blue whales to Bryde's whales in the Sea of Cortez. The best viewing is from February to April.
Johnstone Strait is between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland and is one of the best places in the world to see orcas. Half-day trips leave from Telegraph Cove and there are a number of communities that dot the coast and one can encounter lots of wildlife along the way. The best time is from mid June to October.