Watching the majestic whales as they blow great jets of water from their blowholes before diving back under the surface is a profound experience. There is nothing better than having a glimpse of whales thriving in their natural environment.
Whales can be found in every ocean of the world, from Africa to Antarctica. The best way to watch whales is by going on a small ship expedition cruise.
One can look at these spectacular creatures from basically any country that has a coastline. However, some designated places on earth will offer only the best whale watching experience for you.
These places are also prominent for having a higher chance of sightings where whales come conveniently close to the shore. With the migratory nature of these mammals, there are places you can spot them all year round.
Not only are these destinations scenic but you will also find a vast diversity of other marine and birdlife, making your overall trip worthwhile.
Here are the top six places for embarking on an exciting whale cruise:
1. Tromso, Norway
Tromso is perched in the Arctic circle and is a perfect place to start your whale cruising adventures. This city is a popular tourist destination and offers the best experience of exploring ocean life.
Here, you can catch sight of majestic humpbacks and killer whales while taking in the breath-taking panoramic views of frozen landscapes. During the chilly months, you can spot orca’s that feed on small fishes in the area.
If the weather is at its best, an underwater hydrophone and drone are launched that strives to capture the sounds and images of the whales. This activity depends on the whale’s location and may take 6-7 hours.
An essential part of most Tromso whale cruises is that they are eco-friendly and feature ethical whale safaris.
The best time to go whale watching in Tromso is early November to early February.
2. Mirissa, Sri Lanka
The coast of Mirissa in Sri Lanka is abundant in whales swimming in the water. During your cruise, you can spot the blue whales, the largest mammals existing in the world.
Humpbacks, Bryde’s whales, sperm whales, short-finned whales are occasionally spotted in Mirissa. Killer whales and whale sharks can be seen depending on your luck. Along with these mammals, you can also spot dolphins, turtles, and flying fish in the ocean.
A whale-watching cruise in Mirissa usually takes 3-4 hours to complete. The best time to visit is from November to April when the ocean is calm. This is also the period where whales migrate from the southern to the northern hemisphere and can be spotted with ease.
3. Reykjavik, Iceland
While Iceland is known for its picturesque natural beauty, the country’s capital, Reykjavik, has special whale-watching cruises for tourists. The city is located on the coast of Iceland and provides spectacular opportunities for catching sight of these mammals.
By the coast, you can spot a variety of whales such as humpback, minke, and killer whales. Accompanying them are harbour porpoises and White-Beaked Dolphins. You can also see other aquatic species and wildlife while enjoying Reykjavik’s stunning coast side.
You can go whale watching in Reykjavik all year round, with the months April to October is the most visited. Yet, the high peak season in June, July, and August guarantees whale sightings during a Reykjavik whale cruise.
4. California, The United States
Every year, at least 20,000 grey whales mark an epic journey of 6000 miles between Alaska and Mexico. The whales travel from the feeding grounds of the Bering Sea to Baja California in Mexico. It is one of the most amazing migrations which tourists can witness during a whale-watching cruise.
Grey whales get all the spotlight along the Californian coast while humpbacks, orcas, dolphins, porpoises, and massive blue whales also surround the water.
Off the San Francisco and Monterey Bay banks, blue whales appear all year long while the chances of seeing sperm whales, beaked whales, and minke whales can be spotted seasonally.
The period of December to April witnesses the annual migration of grey whales. Between May to October, you can also catch sight of blue whales.
5. Hokkaido Island, Japan
While whale watching cruises are quite a new activity in Japan, it does not stray away from the fact that these marine animals can be found at the country’s coastline.
In Japan, whales can be spotted all year round, but Hokkaido island is one of the best places to go whale watching. Situated in the northernmost part and being one of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido enhances your experience further.
You can observe beaked whales, sperm whales, killer whales, and Minke whales off the coastline of Hokkaido. Along with these mammals, a wide variety of dolphins, and sea birds are found in the Rausa sea of the island.
The Shiretoko Peninsula is also one of the leading spots to whale watch. Majestic whales can be seen with ease while on a cruise. Aside from viewing the aquatic animals, you can also take in the impressive landscapes of Hokkaido Island.
Whales are visible year-round in Hokkaido Island but the best time to visit is from July to October.
Approximately 1000 whales visit Madagascar every season. The channel of Ile Sainte Marie and Baie d’Antongil are some of the best spots to whale watch in the country.
One of the most fascinating migrations occurs near the south of Baie d’Antongil where hundreds of humpback whales and make their way to Antarctica. These whales swim past Ile Sainte Marie where they are often sighted. As a result, several hotels along this place offer whale cruises.
The island of Nosy Be is reported to house incredible rare species of whales, especially the Omura’s whale. There are several other marine species you can spot alongside whales.
The best time to whale watch in Madagascar is June to October where you can witness humpback whales in abundance.
A whale cruise is an exhilarating experience that must be on top of every traveller’s list. Do keep in mind that whale watching should be done ethically by choosing the right company tour.
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