Top places for whale cruise

Top places for whale cruise

Watching the majestic whales as they blow great jets of water from their blowholes before diving back under the surface is a profound experience. The top places for whale cruise offer the perfect opportunity to witness these incredible creatures thriving in their natural environment. There is nothing better than having a glimpse of whales in some of the most spectacular locations around the world.


Whales can be found in every ocean in the world, from Africa to Antarctica. The best way to watch whales is by going on a small-ship expedition cruise.  

A humpback whale's tail seen in the middle of the ocean

A humpback whale’s tail seen in the middle of the ocean

One can look at these spectacular creatures in 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 an ultimate 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 breathtaking panoramic views of frozen landscapes. During the chilly months, you can spot orcas that feed on small fish in the area. 

An orca spotted in low conditions in Tromso

An orca spotted in low conditions in Tromso

If the weather is at its best, an underwater hydrophone and drone are launched that strive 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 from early November to early February.


2. Mirissa, Sri Lanka 

The coast of Mirissa in Sri Lanka is abundant with whales swimming in the water. During your cruise, you can spot blue whales, the largest mammals in the world.

Tourists observe a killer whale in Mirissa

Tourists observe a killer whale in Mirissa

Humpbacks, Bryde’s whales, sperm whales, and 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 when 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.

A humpback breaching in Reykjavik

A humpback breaching in Reykjavik

By the coast, you can spot a variety of whales, such as humpback, minke, and killer whales. Accompanying them are harbor porpoises and white-beaked dolphins. You can also see other aquatic species and wildlife while enjoying Reykjavik’s stunning coastside. 


You can go whale watching in Reykjavik all year round, with April to October being 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 6,000 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 that tourists can witness during a whale-watching cruise. 

A whale sighting in Monterey, California

A whale sighting in Monterey, California

Grey whales get all the spotlight along the California 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 witnessed the annual migration of grey whales. Between May and 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 along 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. 

The fin of a sperm whale visible

The fin of a sperm whale visible

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 on Hokkaido Island, but the best time to visit is from July to October.


6. Madagascar 

Approximately 1000 whales visit Madagascar every season. The channels 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 make their way to Antarctica. These whales swim past Ile Sainte Marie, where they are often sighted. As a result, several hotels along this route offer whale cruises. 

A humpback whale spotted in Sainte Marie

A humpback whale spotted in Sainte Marie

The island of Nosy Be is reported to house incredibly 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 from June to October when you can witness humpback whales in abundance. 


A whale cruise is an exhilarating experience that must be on top of every traveler’s list. Keep in mind that whale watching should be done ethically by choosing the right company tour.


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