The 4 Best Whale Watching Destinations Around the World
It’s little wonder that people all over the world flock to places where they can watch whales. Seeing a 40-ton humpback breach the water and launch its body into the air is a spectacular sight to behold. The mystery deepens further if you keep in mind that behind a whale’s physical power and size, there’s a brain up to eight times larger than ours.
Many species of whales migrate long distances throughout the year for mating, calving and hunting. If you want to see them up close and personal, you need to pick the right spot at the right time. Here are a few destinations to consider for your next trip.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park is located in the Alaskan panhandle west of Juneau. Getting there is an adventure in itself since there are no roads to the park. The 40,000 visitors who come every year arrive by air, cruise ship or ferry.
Whales you’ll see: Glacier Bay is a prime feeding ground for humpback whales. After fasting during the winter months in Hawaii and Mexico, they come to Alaska to gorge on schooling fish in the nutrient rich waters of the bay. You can also see orca and minke whales, as well as dolphins, sea lions and seals.
Best time to go: Whales frequent the Bay to feed during the summer months, so plan to be there between June and August before they head south.
The Azores, Portugal
The Azores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic about 850 miles from mainland Portugal. Since it’s located near the Gulf Stream, it boasts mild temperatures year-round, fluctuating between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whales you’ll see: The Azores is known as a great place to see fin, blue, and sei whales.
Best time to go: Migration patterns bring the fin, blue, and sei whales near The Azores during the spring. April and May are the peak months. You can also see the common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, and sperm whale all year long.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja peninsula is an ocean-lover’s dream. It’s perfect for sport fishing, diving, sea kayaking, and boating. It’s also a great place to watch whales, whether from a tour boat or right from the shore.
Whales you’ll see: humpbacks, gray whales, and blue whales.
Best time to go: Mid-January to mid-March is the best time to go based on migration patterns. You’ll catch the humpbacks gray and blue whales on their way from winter feeding spots in the arctic to their breeding grounds in Mexico.
Cape Town, South Africa
The 1,200 miles of coastline from Cape Town to Durban in South Africa is prime whale-watching territory. Up to 37 species of whales and dolphins call the stretch of ocean their home at certain times of the year. Several species, such as the Southern Right Whale, nurse and calve their young just meters from the shore.
Whales you’ll see: Southern Right whale and humpbacks. You’ll also bump into dolphins, African penguins and Cape fur seals.
Best time to go: See Southern Right whales from June to November and humpbacks from May to December.
If whale-watching is on your bucket list, you can’t beat these destinations for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Grab your binoculars, book a plane ticket, and contact a local tour group at your destination to get started.