Travel Tips

The Best Places to Go Whale Watching This Summer

There’s something magical about whales. It may be the fact that one species – the blue whale – is the largest animal on Earth, reaching as much as 100 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds. Or maybe it’s that whales are warm blooded, breathe air, and nurse their young — yet manage to live in the ocean, with some species diving over 600 feet to hunt while holding their breath for up to an hour and a half.

Above all, whales are elusive. However, most migrate toward the equator to breed and give birth in where its warm before heading to the poles to feed in food-rich waters. Because of these migrations, whale watching hot spots vary by season and by hemisphere. For your best shot at spotting one of these majestic creatures, plan a trip to one (or more) of the world’s best summer whale watching destinations below.

The Azores, Portugal

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), Pico Island, Azores, Portugal

When to go: April to October

What you can see: Sperm, humpback, blue, and fin whales

It might take an extra flight to get to the Azores, which are part of Portugal but sit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but serious whale watchers are rewarded with almost guaranteed whale sightings in season. Sperm whales live off the largest island of Sao Miguel year-round and sightings of humpback, blue, and fin whales are common. Tour operators like Moby Dick even boast a satisfaction-guaranteed tour policy.

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada

When to go: June to October, but August is best

What you can see: Fin, humpback, minke, and the northern right whale

The Bay of Fundy boasts over 12 whale species making it easily one of the best whale-watching spots in eastern Canada. Here, visitors often spot fin, humpback, minke, and northern right whales. The latter is one of the most endangered whale species in the world – so avid whale watchers will be happy to know that according to National Geographic, the bay attracts the largest population of North Atlantic right whales in the world.

Hervey Bay, Australia

When to go: Late-July to October

What you can see: Humpback whales

In late summer, humpback whales on their way to Antarctica to feed stop in Hervey Bay where they can grow their young in safe waters. Although humpbacks are the most common during this season, the Australian site Wild About Whales says that minke, orcas, pygmy sperm whales, and Bryde’s whales have also been spotted in Australian waters.

Saguenay, Quebec, Canada

Humpback Whale near the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, near Tadoussac, Quebec, Canada

When to go: June to September

What you can see: Beluga, humpback, and blue whales

This whale-watching spot is actually a marine park that’s the year-round home to around 1,000 beluga whales – a particularly intelligent species of whale. During high season, around 13 additional whale species come to feed in preparation for the long winter migration. The safe haven is also home to the world’s largest animal, the blue whale.

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