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10 of the Top Whale-Watching Experiences in North America


Whale watching off the shores of North America
Hi, I'm Andrea!

Andrea is a California-based writer and editor who has a passion for storytelling, traveling, interior design, and impressionist art. Having lived in various beach cities along the coast like Malibu and Ventura, she loves a relaxing beach day just as much as the next person. An avid reader with a natural tendency to romanticize everyday life, Andrea spends her free time writing poetry and exploring her hometown of Los Angeles.

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Hi, I'm Andrea!

Andrea is a California-based writer and editor who has a passion for storytelling, traveling, interior design, and impressionist art. Having lived in various beach cities along the coast like Malibu and Ventura, she loves a relaxing beach day just as much as the next person. An avid reader with a natural tendency to romanticize everyday life, Andrea spends her free time writing poetry and exploring her hometown of Los Angeles.

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The waters of North America are prime whale watching terrority. Each year, different species—gray, blue, humpback, bowhead, and more—flood the waters of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Their unique behavior and massive size makes them a true spectacle and eager onlookers usually look forward to the warmer months of summer to observe these sea creatures in their natural habitat. Here are some of the top-rated boat tours to choose from when planning your next whale-watching adventure.

1. Set sail on a whale-watching cruise from Newport Beach

Arrive at Newport Beach and sail toward the coast of Orange County as you take in views of the Pacific Ocean. You can expect to see other marine life on this tour such as dolphins, seals, and more.

Whale-Watching Cruise from Newport Beach
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Whale-Watching Cruise from Newport Beach

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Cruise off the coast of Orange County in search of whales on this excursion from Newport Beach. Watch the rugged, beautiful scenery of the Pacific Coast glide by as you listen to interesting commentary from your crew about the native California marine life. Watch for blows and tail slaps; these signal that humpback, minke, grey, finback or giant blue whales are near. Dolphins and other marine life are also in abundance during this family-friendly, year-round whale watching tour.
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  • 2 to 3 hours
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$34.00
From
$34.00

2. Whale watch in Maui on a catamaran cruise

If you find yourself in the historic Lahaina Harbor of Maui, take advantage of this boat tour that lets you observe local humpback whales. Using underwater hydrophones, you can listen to whale calls; witness mother whales calving; or encounter male whales competing for mates.

Whale Watching from Lahaina Harbor

Whale Watching from Lahaina Harbor

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Don’t miss one of the most popular whale-watching tours in Maui! This 2-hour catamaran cruise takes you from the historic Lahaina Harbor out to waters home to humpback whales. Using underwater hydrophones, listen to them sing, and watch males compete for mates or mother whales calving — you never know you might see on this adventure that guarantees whale sightings. Enjoy the views from the open upper deck or the shaded cabins below, and hear informative commentary from naturalist-guides on board. This family-friendly outing includes a Naturalist Program for kids.
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  • 2 hours
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$82.65
From
$82.65

3. Look out for whales from a luxurious private yacht in Alaska

Prefer a more private and extravagant whale-watching experience? This boat tour takes place on a yacht and the journey can be tailored by the captain to match your group’s interests, so it’s ideal for travelers looking for a more intimate encounter with Alaskan wildlife.

Private Luxury Whale Watch

Private Luxury Whale Watch

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Embark on a whale watching excursion that combines the luxury of a private yacht with the chance to see and learn about Alaska’s renown wildlife. Quite unlike the large-boat whale watching outings, which are filled with crowds and deliver information over a loudspeaker, this intimate experience is ideal for travelers looking for a peaceful and intimate encounter with Alaskan wildlife.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$2,799.00
per group
From
$2,799.00
per group

4. Enjoy a full day of whale watching in Quebec

This tour sets sail from Quebec City and allows you to choose from two different boating experiences—a high-speed inflatable zodiac for those who don’t mind getting a little wet or a large, 3-level observation vessel. Once aboard the boat of your choice, be sure to lookout for whales, seals, and belugas.

Full-Day Whale Watching Cruise from Quebec City

Full-Day Whale Watching Cruise from Quebec City

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When visiting Quebec City, meet the world’s most fascinating and majestic creatures on a guided, full-day whale-watching cruise. Travel along the Saint Lawrence River to the town of Baie-Sainte-Catherine, then choose from two distinctly different boating experiences—a small, speedy zodiac or a large, 3-level observation vessel. Enjoy an exceptional view on your cruise in search of whales, seals, and belugas. Quebec City pickup/drop-off included.
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  • 11 hours
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$178.30
From
$178.30

5. See puffins and whales at the same time

Take a cruise through the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, home to over 2.5 million seabirds and the largest population of whales in the North Atlantic. While on the tour, admire icebergs, puffins, whales, and more (depending on the time of year).

Newfoundland Puffin and Whale Watch Cruise

Newfoundland Puffin and Whale Watch Cruise

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Marvel at marine wildlife up-close on this cruise through the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve. The reserve is home to over 2.5 million seabirds and one of the largest populations of whales in the North Atlantic. Aboard a spacious catamaran with ample viewing areas, admire icebergs and watch for puffins, whales, razor-billed auks, black legged kittiwakes, and more (wildlife attractions vary with the time of year). Hear live commentary from crew and naturalists on board about Newfoundland’s heritage as you travel to Iceberg Alley.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$75.38
From
$75.38

6. Combine sunset views and whale watching in Victoria, Canada

Experience Victoria’s coastal views at sunset while on the lookout for whales and more. This tour has a boat equipped with three separate decks so you can enjoy optimal viewing options to spot whales, sea lions, and whatever else your eye can see.

Sunset Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria

Sunset Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria

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Discover a new perspective on Victoria’s striking coastal scenery—and have the rare chance to spot giants of the deep, as well as other marine animals—with this sunset whale-watching tour. Make your own way to the dock in Downtown Victoria, and hop aboard your catamaran, equipped with three separate viewing decks. You can look out for whales, sea lions, and more—and see the sunset from the water’s edge.
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  • 3 hours
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$131.72
From
$131.72

7. Explore by both land and sea in Canada

Cross the Strait of Georgia by seaplane and then enjoy an exciting boat ride through Haro Strait—home to orcas, sea lions, and seals. End your tour with yet another plane ride back to the mainland, taking in the aerial views of Vancouver and Victoria along the way.

Seaplane Flight to Victoria and Whale-Watching Cruise

Seaplane Flight to Victoria and Whale-Watching Cruise

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Discover the natural wonders of Vancouver and Victoria an exhilarating whale watching excursion! Delight in lovely aerial views on the crossing of the Strait of Georgia by seaplane—the most eco-friendly transport to Victoria. From the island capital, set off on an exciting cruise through Haro Strait, native home to orcas (killer whales), sea lions and seals, followed by a return flight to the mainland.
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  • 10 hours
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$449.01
From
$449.01

8. Spot humpback whales in Cabo San Lucas

Those looking for a more intimate and personalized experience will love this small-group tour which only has room for 10 passengers. You can even upgrade to enjoy a smaller tour of up to eight people. During the trip, expect to sail past recognizable landmarks and see humpback whales up-close.

Humpback Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas

Humpback Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas

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When in Cabo San Lucas, don’t miss the chance to see humpback whales and other dramatic marine life on this boat tour. Accompanied by a marine biologist onboard, see whales making gigantic splashes. Snap shots of the iconic Land’s End (El Arco) and its sea lion colony. This small-group tour is limited to 10 passengers, ensuring personalized attention. Upgrade to enjoy a private tour for up to eight people.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$96.00
From
$96.00

9. Dine and cruise: Breakfast and whale-watching

Enjoy a traditional Mexican breakfast of spicy eggs and coffee as you sail from Cabo San Lucas past the El Arco (The Arch) rock formation in search of whales. A marine biologist will also be on this tour to provide commentary on the ocean life and sea creatures you encounter.

Los Cabos Whale Watching Cruise Including Breakfast

Los Cabos Whale Watching Cruise Including Breakfast

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Spot gray whales and other marine life on this 2-hour whale watching cruise from Cabo San Lucas. Sail past the dramatic El Arco (The Arch) rock formation and a colony of sea lions as you enjoy a delicious Mexican breakfast of spicy eggs and aromatic coffee. Keep an eye out for dolphins, manta rays, and gray whales once you arrive at the Sea of Cortez. A marine biologist will accompany you on board to provide commentary on these impressive creatures.
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  • 2 hours
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$69.00
From
$69.00

10. Combine dolphin spotting and whale watching in Puerto Vallarta

Board this boat tour in Puerto Vallarta and be on the lookout for humpback whales, dolphins, turtles, and giant mantas. This tour also gives you the opportunity to participate in a research project that protects sea creatures, about which you can learn more from the biologist on deck.

Whale & Dolphin Watching with a Biologist in Puerto Vallarta

Whale & Dolphin Watching with a Biologist in Puerto Vallarta

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This whale-watching tour provides the opportunity to give back on your Puerto Vallarta vacation. In the company of a biologist guide, you'll see humpback whales up close, as well as dolphins, turtles, and giant mantas in their natural environment and participate in a research project that helps to protect them.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • English
  • Free Cancellation
From
$87.18
From
$87.18

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