Whales, and When and Where to See Them

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Whales are the elusive giants of the ocean, skulking through oceans across the globe. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the destinations around the planet where you will be in with the best chance of seeing these majestic mammals in their natural habitat.


The petite town of Húsavík, on Iceland’s north coast is a must-visit location for those looking to spot whales in Europe. Over twenty species of whales have been seen in Icelandic waters but some of the most frequent visitors are humpback whales whose playful antics see them leaping out of the water and slapping their fins. You can also spy shy minke whales and the largest living creatures on the planet, blue whales. The best time to spot whales here is between May and September when the days are longer and the weather warmer.

There are internal flights from Reykjavik to Húsavík running from Sunday – Friday each week.

picture of a whale watching trip


The picturesque seaside of Hermanus is a mere 75 miles from Cape Town, and yet, despite its proximity to a big city, it offers some of the best whale watching opportunities in the world. The whale watching season runs from July to November each year, but whales are most often spotted between September and November. The Southern Right whale has made this stretch of rugged coastline its mating and breeding ground, meaning that you can be in with the chance of seeing mothers swimming with calves, or huge males swimming to these coasts each October.

Every September, the Hermanus Whale Festival is held giving residents and tourists alike the chance to join together, go whale watching and eat great food whilst listening to live music. The purpose of such an event is to raise the profile of the marine life here, and to work towards ensuring their continued existence.

picture of Hermanus


Sri Lanka is famed for its herds of wild elephants which stomp through the country’s lush green national parks. However, this dreamy isle is also visited by another, much larger mammal. Blue whales can be seen off the southern tip of Sri Lanka in Mirissa between the months of November and March. Due to the vast size of the blue whale, when they begin to dive their spines can be seen sliding endlessly into the sea. Despite being the largest known mammals to have ever lived, blue whales live off tiny, tiny plankton of which there is a large abundance off the coast of Sri Lanka. This is why it’s such a hot spot for them.

Whilst on the hunt for a blue whale spotting, you can also hope to see spinner and bottlenose dolphins dancing beside your boat.



Portugal’s archipelago, the Azores, are a far cry from the bustling beaches of the Algarve. These isles are rugged and wild with verdant green rolling hills, stubborn flowers aplenty and an abundant marine life. It is possible to see marine life almost all year round in the Azores, but different species of whale visit during different months. Blue whales are most commonly seen between April and May, whilst sightings of sperm whales are most frequent between June and October, so it’s worth doing your research before booking a trip. The Azores relationship with the whales has been a tumultuous one and whale hunting used to be prevalent. However, these days the same coastal houses (vigias) that were used to spot the whales to hunt are now used to report sightings of these amazing mammals.

picture of a whale in the Azores


Alaska is the coldest on our list of whale watching destinations, but these cold climes attract different species of whale, not commonly seen in hotter climes. Pods of orca live in the Prince William Sound area, and can be spotted gliding through the cool waters. The white beluga whales can also be found off Alaska’s shores, whilst over 500 humpback whales congregate in Alaska’s Inside Passage during summer months.

Alongside an array of whales, there are a whole host of other creatures to keep your eyes peeled for on these shores. Sea otters can be seen floating through the seas, imposing walrus call Alaska their home and there are an array of seals slipping through the seas.

picture of a whale in alaska


The Maldives are famed for azure waters, luxury hotels and all round glamour but beneath the sea there’s a whole new world to explore. Bigger whales won’t swim in to water so shallow but these warm waters play host to some of the world’s rarer whale species. There are petite dwarf sperm whales and pods of short-finned pilot whales to watch out for. The tropical bottlenose whale was once known as the world’s rarest whale, and yet these amazing mammals call the crystal clear seas of the Maldives their home.

Not technically a whale but instead the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark can be found in this dreamy location. These docile creatures can grow up to 40-feet long, and there are lots of opportunities to swim alongside them in the Maldives.

picture of blue seas in the maldives

Happy holiday hunting from the dealchecker team!