Whale-watching is an incredible experience that allows you to get a closer look at one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures. Seeing whales frolic in their natural habitats is a truly unique encounter that no aquarium can replicate. From cold Arctic waters to warm tropical seas, these are four of the world’s best whale-watching destinations.
During the winter, especially in February, Hawaii is one of the best destinations for whale-watching. Throughout this time, nearly 10,000 humpback whales travel from the northern Pacific to the island’s safe, warm waters to give birth to their calves—far away from their predator, the Northern orca. Popular ways to experience this fantastic event is by land or by boat. You can also get a closer look by paddle boarding or snorkeling. The best place to spot these whales is in the calm waters between Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe.
You can spot several different species of whales, including humpbacks, orcas, and gray whales, in Alaska’s waters. While you can see some whales year-round, the best time to go whale-watching in Alaska is during the summer, between May and September. Humpback whales are especially active during this time because they need to feed on enormous quantities of food in order to gain weight before migrating south for the winter. Some of the best places to whale-watch in Alaska include Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, and Kodiak Island.
Panama is a relatively underrated whale-watching destination. Currently, the country provides a more private look at humpback whales without distracting crowds. As such, you should visit now before people start catching on. The country is one of only two destinations in the world where you can observe humpback whales from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The best time to take your whale-watching excursion is between July and October, when 2,000 humpback whales go on the world’s longest migration—all the way from Antarctica—to give birth, traveling an annual distance of 4,000 miles.
Iceland is one of the best whale-watching destinations Europe has to offer. Its icy waters are replete with over 20 different specials of whales and dolphins, such as humpback whales, killer whales, blue whales, orcas, bottlenose whales, minke whales, and fin whales. The best time to whale-watch in Iceland is between June and August, when there’s a 90 percent success rate of spotting a whale. As a bonus, by supporting the whale-watching industry in Iceland, you can help reduce the amount of commercial hunting that continues to occur in the country.