Seeing whales in the wild can be an intense experience. These mighty, mysterious mammals really defy appropriate description, and seeing them up close is almost certain to be moving, memorable, and magical.
There’s something truly extraordinary about seeing an animal that large just going about its business, with little to no regard for you–an astonished audience.
Whales have been hunted for centuries. As a result, half of the 13 great whale species in the world are endangered and at risk of extinction. Nevertheless, as long as you are in the right place and at the right time, there are plenty of places where you can still see these extraordinary creatures in their natural habitat.
Here are five of the best places in the world to whale watch.
The entirety of the Mexican Riviera–from Ensenada all the way down to the surfing beaches of Oaxaca–is prime whale watching territory.
You can see humpback whales jumping out of the water in the Bahia de Banderas off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, gray whales in the Sea of Cortez after a night on the town in Los Cabos, or even blue whales from a glass-bottomed boat in Loreto Bay.
Have a vacation by booking a cruise to San Juan, and enjoy one of the world’s finest places to see humpback whales. From January to March, humpbacks swim past Puerto Rico since that’s their birthing and mating season, and eagle-eyed watchers might even catch a glimpse of the newborn calves as well!
While boat tours are widely available, one of the best aspects of whale watching in this place is you get to view them from dry land–the Rincon Lighthouse, El Faro, and the Mona Passage are some of the best spots.
The stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is the perfect backdrop to a whale watching vacation on Vancouver Island. During the spring, over 20,000 gray whales pass the island, which is a truly astounding sight. It’s also a wonderful spot to get up close to orca pods in the Johnstone Strait. If you vacation in March, you get to check out the Pacific Rim Whale Festival.
Iceland lies right in the middle of one of the North Atlantic’s biggest feeding grounds and attracts a fantastic variety of whales throughout the year. You’ll see minke, humpback, sperm, and sei whales, and you might even encounter the odd blue whale if you are lucky. Most whale watching expeditions leave from Húsavik, but there are plenty of options from Reykjavik and around the country.
Sri Lanka sits right on the edge of the continental shelf and boasts deep, dark waters just a little way offshore. This is why it’s probably the best place in the world to go for reliable sightings of blue whales. There really isn’t anywhere else on the planet where these giant mammals can be seen so close to land or where sightings are more likely.
January to April is the best time for blue expeditions, and a boat trip out from Dondra Head is one of the more exciting experiences you are ever likely to have!