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Getting a glimpse of the world’s largest mammals breach the ocean’s surface is a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Fortunately, spotting these sublime sea creatures is merely a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Therefore, planning is of the utmost importance when it comes to a successful whale watching trip. While you can join whale watching tours in over 119 countries, below are 7 of the top places in the world to go whale watching.
The waters that line Alaska are filled with a variety of marine life including grey, killer, humpback and beluga whales. In the summer thousands of whales migrate to Alaska’s rich feeding grounds, making whale sightings a regular occurrence. Whales can easily be spotted from sea by chartered boats, or from beach-side benches on land. Glacier Bay in particular is a prime location to watch humpback whales feed on herring.
2. The Maldives
Home to over 23 different genuses of dolphins and whales, The Maldives provide visitors the opportunity to whale watch in an idyllic island setting. Spotting spinner dolphins (as well as 7+ other species) is guaranteed on a typical trip, while more unusual whale species – such as the blue and pilot whale – also make regular appearances. During whale tours, visitors can take a break to snorkel with dolphins in the warm tropical waters.
3. Baja, Mexico
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Baja, Mexico – and for good reason. Over nine species of whale visit Baja on a regular basis. Gray whales visit Baja every year (November to April) to have their babies, and blue whales can be found in the Sea of Cortez during the winter months. Humpback, sperm and fin whales also frequent the Sea of Cortez.
4. South Africa
From June to November, South Africa’s Western Cape is awash with migrating whales. If boats aren’t your thing, head to Hermanus, the self-proclaimed whale watching capital of the world. The small town boasts the world’s best land-based whale watching along a 7-mile coastal walkway from which visitors can enjoy spectacular views of breaching whales just yards away.
5. Antarctic Peninsula
Significant numbers of Antarctic minke whales, orcas, and humpback whales gather along the Antarctic peninsula and are regularly spotted during the southern summer. February through March is the best time for viewing, and is also a popular time for photography, as ice glaciers provide a breathtaking backdrop to the tours.
Nearly 60% of the world’s whales are found in Australia. Humpbacks, who migrate down the East and West coasts of Australia, are the most commonly sighted whales. The best place to spot these whales is Hervey Bay, which has become known as the “home of the humpbacks.” Sightings are guaranteed from mid-July until late November.
8. Kaikoura, New Zealand
Kaikoura, New Zealand is one of the few places in the world where sperm whales can be seen year-round. You can also see humpbacks between June and July, and orcas between December and March. Several dolphin species are also seen daily in the area.
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