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Our Favorite Whale-Spotting Destinations

While some Americans are lucky enough to live on a coastline where they may see whales frequently, most of us must travel—oftentimes to great distances—to experience the exhilaration of seeing these marvelous and magical creatures up close.

With many species migrating through—and others living in proximity to—the coasts here in the U.S. and abroad, there are a variety of ideal whale-spotting destinations you can visit.

Alaska
Every year, migrating whales leave locations near the equator and travel north with their calves, looking for places to feed during the upcoming summer months.

Many head for the waters of the Alaskan coast, including the Inside Passage and its surrounding areas.

Grey, beluga, blue, minke, and of course humpback whales, swim, play, and feed in the cold ocean waters, providing unsurpassed whale-watching opportunities for lucky visitors.

The best viewing vantage points are typically aboard smaller ships and vessels that, unlike larger ships, can enter and traverse sheltered bays, coves, and inlets—shutting down their engines and lingering in the waters, allowing passengers front-row access to capture amazing photographs and videos of the remarkable wildlife.

Galapagos

The Galapagos Marine Reserve is home to a more than 20 different types of whales—including blue, humpback, minke, sei, orca, and sperm whales.

Some are present year round, while others are easiest to spot during the cooler months (June-November), or while passing through during their annual migration.

Hawaii
The warm, shallow waters of the Hawaiian Islands are very popular with humpback whales who breed, calve, and nurse their young in the area.

There are also a variety of other whales that make the Islands home—false killer whales, melon-headed whales, pilot whales, and sperm whales.

A small ship cruise through the Islands is the perfect opportunity to see these majestic mammals, along with the multitude of other local marine and land wildlife.

Churchill, Manitoba

Home to more than 50,000 beluga whales in the summer, the Hudson Bay near Churchill is also a favorable location for whale watching.

Along with belugas, killer whales are becoming more abundant as pack ice lessens and they travel in search of food.

Costa Rica

The coasts here are some of the best places in the world to spot humpbacks, which congregate in pods along the shore in known calving areas. Because they are arriving from both Northern and Southern areas, they can be found almost all year round (since seasons are reverse in the southern hemisphere).

Antarctica

Many types of whales love the icy waters of the Antarctic—including blue, sei, humpback, minke, sperm and killer whales. Go for the amazing experience of discovering all the Antarctic wildlife, whales included.

When the goal is whale-spotting, choose a location where the animals spend time—and combine that destination with a fascinating itinerary and knowledgeable naturalists and local guides to be guaranteed a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

To learn about the travel programs Orbridge offers that feature spectacular whale-watching opportunities, visit the following links below:

Discover Southeast Alaska
The Galapagos Islands
Polar Bears & Beluga Whales
Astounding Antarctica