6 Ultimate Whale Watching Destinations Around the World

By Hazel Gibson

Thar she blows! If you’ve dreamed of seeing whales up close and personal, then you need to journey to these unforgettable destinations.

Bar Harbor, Maine

East Coast residents can find some of the best whale watching in the country in Bar Harbor. Explore Acadia National Park and the Gulf of Maine, where you can catch a glimpse of humpbacks, minkes, and finbacks in the water. The season here is long, stretching from April to October, but remember that Maine gets cold!

Cunningham Inlet, Canada

For one month every year, more than 2,000 beluga whales make a pitstop in Cunningham Inlet. The best time to visit is in late July or early August—but be sure to book your trip early. The playful white belugas are a once-in-a-lifetime sight, especially since they venture so close to shore that you don’t even need to get on a boat to see them!

Kaikoura, New Zealand

The best place to see whales in New Zealand is Kaikoura. You can find sperm whales there all year round, but migratory humpbacks and blue whales make an appearance in June and July. Take a helicopter tour over the sapphire blue ocean and admire the snow-capped New Zealand peaks as you look out for whales below.

San Juan Islands, Washington

Every summer, from May to September, a stunning variety of whales can be seen off the coast of the San Juan Islands. It’s an orca lover’s dream, with year-round sightings of the distinct black-and-white beauties.

However, in the summer you can see humpbacks, gray whales, and minkes as they make their way along the “Whale Trail” up the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

The Azores, Portugal

European whale watchers flock to the Azores, an isolated group of islands where you can find a huge variety of year-round residents that include dolphins, orcas, sperm whales, and pilot whales. During the spring, migrating species such as humpbacks and blue whales pass through the Azores.

April and May are the best times to visit if you want to glimpse a blue whale—but be advised that it gets crowded!

Hermanus, South Africa

Whale watching is the main industry in Hermanus, South Africa, where a “whale crier” blows a horn whenever activity is spotted in the bay. You don’t need to set foot on a boat to watch humpback whales frolicking in the water—you can enjoy the sight from the rocky shoreline instead.