Whale watching is a thrilling tourist activity. The chance to see these magnificent creatures of the sea is not to be missed. Whale watching trips are available in a surprising number of places around the world because whales are migratory creatures and many of them travel great distances between their feeding and breeding grounds. Here’s my 10 Top Destinations to go Whale Watching:
One of the best places to see whales is New Zealand’s South Island. Kaikoura is a world-renowned spot for whale watching because large numbers are attracted here. The deep water where warm and cold currents mix creates a wealth of nutrients close to the surface and whales come to feed. Sperm whales are the most common sight here and also, the world’s rarest dolphin, Hector’s Dolphin, is only found here.
If you want to see Orcas, the Lofoten Islands, high up above the Arctic Circle in Norway is the place to be. Killer whale watching here is so good because between October and mid-January, the whales are feeding on the massive shoals of Atlantic herring, and it all happens just 6 miles offshore. Add in the possibility that you might get to see the Northern Lights and you can look forward to a magical whale watching trip.
If you don’t fancy the idea of whale watching trips in a boat, Hermanus in South Africa is one of the best on land places to see whales; so much so, that there’s an annual whale festival. The waters are rich with lots of sea mammals, with many species of whale and dolphin to spot, as they ply the ‘whale route’ that runs 1,200 between Cape Town and Durban. Best time for whale watching in South Africa is between June and November.
You may never have heard of The Azores. They are a group of nine beautiful volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 hundred miles off the coast of Portugal, to whom they belong. Whale watching is a major tourist activity in The Azores where up to 20 species of whale and dolphin frequent the waters. This is one of the few places you stand a chance to spot the largest of the whales, the Blue Whale, along with orcas and plenty of dolphins. Between April and September is the prime time for whale watching in The Azores.
The north shore of the St. Lawrence River, close to Quebec is another location where you might just spot the magical Blue Whale. There is so much whale activity in this stretch of river that it is actually called ‘Routes de Baleines’ – the whale route. Whale watching here means the opportunity to see Minke, Fin, Humpback, Northern Right and Beluga Whales (the cute white one) as well as porpoises, dolphins and seals.
The Sea of Cortex is the place to spot the Grey whale, common to the waters off California. The Grey is considered to be a whale that enjoys human interaction being somewhat inquisitive about the whale watching trips that come to see them. There are also plenty of dolphins to see and there has been a large number of recorded sightings of the Blue Whale ‘blowing’ water which can reach up to 40 feet. In the seas between Point Reyes and Santa Barbara you might spot Humpbacks, Dwarf Sperm whale and that ever elusive Blue.
Home to Iceland’s Whale Museum, visitors to Husavik on the north-east coast of Iceland can enjoy whale watching trips on antique fishing boats that have been beautifully restored. Iceland is one of the countries that still hunts whales (to a set quota), but this is done way off shore so there’s no misfortune of you seeing this happening. The Icelandic waters are favorite feeding grounds of Minke, Humpbacks and White-beaked dolphins.
Hervey Bay in Queensland, North East Australia, vies regularly with Hermanus to be crowned the whale watching capital of the world. Fraser islands shelters the waters of Hervey Bay giving rise to perfect conditions for migrating whales between July and November. The Humpback is the predominant species and this is one of the best places to see whales with their young.
After spending winter in the warmer waters, California’s whales head north to Alaska for the summer feeding grounds. It is reckoned that some 20,000 grey whales make their way to the waters of Chatham Strait and Port Adolphus, in the stunningly gorgeous Glacier Bay National Park. There are plenty of lodges on the migratory path to view the whales, but getting out on the water to view on whale watching boat trips is a great experience.
The Bay of Biscay sits between France and Spain on their Atlantic coastlines. The best whale watching in the Bay of Biscay is off Spain’s northern coast where the waters are frequented by Pilot, Fin and Killer whales as well as a good range of dolphin species. August is the best time to go.
There are other terrific places to go whale watching in the world including Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii and even Scotland. If you are intending to go on a whale watching trip make sure you pick a reputable tour operator.
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