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Top 7 destinations for Whale Watching

From the icy landscapes of Antarctica to the tropical waters of Costa Rica, whales can often be easier to find than you think… here are the top destinations to spot whales and the best times to see them.

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Humpback whale in Alaska

Whales are the largest animals on Earth reaching up to 100 feet and weighing 200 tons. These gentle ocean giants are top of the food chain, so they play a hugely important role in the overall health of the marine environment. 

When you embark on an expedition cruise, you’ll be exploring some of the most remote and pristine places on the planet where wildlife lives free. Our expedition itineraries are not completely set in stone, often our captains will divert course to grasp new opportunities such as wildlife watching, giving you greater opportunities to spot these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats.

1. Antarctica

Despite its freezing temperatures, Antarctica is a haven for wildlife. The surrounding ice-laden seas form a rich feeding area for large numbers of whales. Blue whales can eat up to 40 million krill per day making Antarctica the perfect place for them to live as Krill is one of the key species in the Antarctic ecosystem. The majestic whales can appear out of nowhere and may even pop up right next to you when you are out on smaller explorer boats or kayaking through the icebergs.

Which whales can you see?  Blue, Killer/orca, Humpback, Fin, Minke, Sperm, Southern Right, Sei

Best time to see whales:  February – March

Antarctica Expeditions

2. Iceland

Iceland’s long summer days, mineral-rich waters, and fertile coastal cliffs attract a wonderful mix of sea mammals. Whales will migrate to Iceland during the summer months to feed and breed. Around twenty-three whale species have been spotted here… so there’s a good chance you’ll meet one on your expedition. Despite humpback whales getting all the attention because of their playful antics, minke whales are the most common whale species found in Iceland’s waters. Minkes can be curious creatures and are known for approaching ships, even keeping pace with the moving vessels at times!

Which whales can you see? Humpback, Minke, Harbour Porpoise, Blue

Best time to see whales: May-August

Explore Iceland

3. Greenland

Greenland is the world’s largest island, and its ice-free fringed shores attract plenty of whale species. Most whales visit Greenland in the summer months when it's completely ice-free following the shoals of small fish, krill, and plankton that migrate to these waters. There are 15 species here in Greenland, the most common species that you may spot are the humpback whales. For those lucky few, you may also be lucky enough to see the cheeky minke whales, beluga, or even narwhals. One of the best spots in Greenland to spot whales is in Disko Bay in the west of the country.

Which whales can you see? Minke, Humpback, Sperm, Fin, Bowhead, Narwhal, Beluga

Best time to see whales: April – September

Greenland Expeditions

4. Norway

Due to Norway’s northerly location, diverse ecosystem, and elongated coastline, the Norwegian coastline has created a distinctive habit that attracts an abundance of whale species. During the long summer days, the plankton blooms are a magnet for these ocean giants. One of the most common whales to be spotted along the Norwegian coastline in the summer is the sperm whale, whilst in the winter you could spot fin whales. In the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard the largest of these giants can be seen - the blue whale. As you travel along this beautiful coastline, keep an eye out at sea to spot these creatures heaving their huge frames acrobatically out of the water.

Which whales can you see? Sperm, Killer/Orca, Pilot, Humpback, Minke, Harbor Porpoise

Best time to see whales: October – mid-January

Norway Expeditions

5. Alaska

Explore the epic wilderness of Alaska with soaring mountain ranges, vast forests and deep fjords which are home to an array of creatures. There are seven whale species as well as the largest dolphin species, the orca. Despite being commonly known as ‘killer whales’, taxonomists actually consider the orca as part of the dolphin species. Orcas will often pray on some whale species, leading to them being known as ‘killer of whales’. Over time, this morphed into Killer Whales and ironically mistaken for their own prey!

Which whales can you see? Beluga, Humpback, Gray, Bowhead, Blue, Minke, Killer/Orca

Best time to see whales: May – September

Alaska Expeditions

6. Caribbean & Costa Rica

Traveling from the colder waters of the north and south poles, the mild tropical waters off the Caribbean and Costa Rica are a haven for humpback whales who return to these waters each year to breed and give birth. The waters here are a safe haven for calfs to grow and develop before the migration back to the colder waters for the summer months. For those lucky enough, there have also been sightings of sperm and killer whales that also make the journey here.

Which whales can you see? Humpback

Best time to see whales: July – mid-November

Caribbean and Central America Expeditions

7. North America

With two coastlines along the main migration routes to the warmer tropics, the east and west coasts of North America offer a prime opportunity to spot whales. Alongside the pods of whales that move through these rich waters, there are a number of species that stay 'local' to a region all year round. In Southern California, you can spot Humpback Whales and Blue Whales all year round, whilst off the coast of Massachusetts you can spot Minke Whales migrating along the coast. There are also occasional sightings of the largest animal in the world – the blue whale.

Which whales can you see? GreyHumpback, Blue

Best time to see whales: July – mid-November

North America Expeditions

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