Where to Spot Whales in the Western Hemisphere

A whale watching trip is something you’ll never forget. Witnessing these majestic and intelligent animals at sea will simply fill you with wonder. There are plenty of excellent whale watching spots throughout the Western Hemisphere, although make sure you bring along binoculars as most whale sightings will be some distance away. Also, choose an experienced naturalist to guide to on the trip as whales should never be chased and you’ll need to keep your distance.

Humpback Whale

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Here are a few of the best spots to see whales, from pilot and blue whales to humpback and orca whales.

California’s Coastline

Most spots along the California Coast allow you to witness these stunning creatures in their environment. The stretch of coast from Fort Bragg to Big Sur is especially great for spotting, gray, blue, humpback, orca and right whales. There are over 20,000 gray whales that routinely migrate along the coast, most coming within a mile of shore very early in January. Point Reyes is the best spot to see this species. If you can’t make it in January, there are still great opportunities from spring through fall. Be sure to browse Monterey vacation rentals and contact the Monterey Bay Whale Watch to find out about available whale watching excursions.

British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia is generally considered the best spot in the Western Hemisphere for spotting orca whales, especially Vancouver Island. You can often spot the orcas along the shoreline, or you can take a boat out for a closer view. If you travel up the coast a bit you’ll hit Telegraph Cove, which is only miles from Canada’s Robson Bight Ecological Preserve, an orca whale sanctuary. Along with orcas, you may also catch sightings of humpbacks, gray whales as well as dolphins, seal lions and eagles.

Dominican Republic

If you’re planning a trip to the Caribbean, make sure you stop in the Dominican Republic, one of the best spots in the region for whale watching. The area mostly attracts tourists hoping for a sighting of humpback whales as the country has a sanctuary for these giants in Silver Bank. Humpbacks gather in the area late in the winter through the first month of spring to breed. While humpbacks are the most common species seen in the region, you might also spot pygmy sperm whales, sperm whales, false killers and pilot whales, which get their name for their knack for leading fishermen right to large schools of fish. Many dolphin species are also native to the area, including Fraser’s, bottlenose, spinner and spotted dolphins.

South Africa

Finally, South Africa has nearly 1,200 miles of coastline that’s ideal for spotting whales. Also known as the Whale Route, you don’t even need a boat excursion to see these giants in South Africa. Much of the land here is protected, including the Tsitsikamma National Park, and you have the option to hike on foot or take a car. There are 37 different species of whales and dolphins in these waters, including right and humpback whales. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot Bryde’s whales and orcas, along with Cape fur seals and African penguins.

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