A real-life encounter with whales is an unforgettable experience, and with more than 30 species roaming the waters off the coastline, Canada is prime territory for a sighting. Get up close and personal with these majestic creatures by heading off to some of the best locations in Canada for whale watching. Take a look at this list of areas all over the country for some of the best whale watching tours and the peak season to venture out.
The Atlantic is whale territory, with more than 20 species hanging out offshore. The Eastern coastline of Canada is the perfect region to spot a whale.
With the warm, fresh waters of Saguenay River mixing with the frigid, salt waters of the St Lawrence River, enormous amounts of krill reside here. As a result of this nifty geographic feature, humpbacks, minke whales and blue whales swim in to feast. Sometimes, if you are lucky, a white beluga—otherwise only seen in the Arctic—will pop in for a snack.
When: Get a view of these incredible creatures on a zodiac boat from May to mid-October.
Price: Average cost is about A$60 per three-hour tour.
The island of Newfoundland is known for the large number of whales that resides here. Check out Witless Bay Ecological Reserve for a very close encounter with humpback and minke whales. Between the whale sightings, the rare seabirds and the backdrop of drifting icebergs, very few whale watching expeditions will compare to an experience at Witless Bay. This is especially the case if you venture out on a kayak, from which you will not only see a whale, but you will feel its presence.
When: Peak season for whale watching is late June to August.
Price: Get up close and personal with these mammals for about $60 per two-hour tour.
Cape Breton Highlands is particularly well known for whale watching as you can often spot these sea creatures from the shore. Travel along the region’s scenic roads and hiking trails for endless nooks and crannies to pull into for whale watching views. If you are on a hunt for a bigger variety of this species, like humpbacks and finbacks, whale watching tours are easy to find from nearly all highland villages.
When: Guests see the most whales here during July and August.
Price: Take a two hour tour for an average of A$50.
Canada’s west coast is prime location for humpback and grey whale sightings, but it is the orca whale that dominates the viewing here.
Each winter 20000 grey whales leave the Baja Peninsula and head north toward Alaska, during which they cruise right past Tofino. Seeing these enormous groups of whales from land is not uncommon as they are not scared of the shore. However, check out a Zodiac boat or a kayak for a thrilling ride out to the pods of whales that spend their summers in Clayoquot Sound.
When: The grey whale’s migration period peaks in late March, but whales are present until mid-October.
Price: Spend an average of $90 for a two and a half hour tour for a whale watching expedition.
Go on a Vancouver Island whale-watching tour to see Orcas—otherwise known as killer whales—grey whales, humpback whales and tons of other marine wildlife. It estimated that over 300 Orca whales live in the waters around Vancouver Island along with the local minke and humpback whales. Vancouver Island is another perfect destination to view the Pacific grey whales that make their annual migration, and this destination even hosts an annual whale festival to celebrate their journey.
When: The best time to see these mammals is from March through October.
Price: A whale watching tour can cost an average of A$70.
Beluga whales live in Arctic waters and are hard to find elsewhere. These pale, white whales blend into the icy waters and are very talkative with one another. Hearing these whales communicate amid the icebergs is an experience> unlike any other.
After seeing the famed polar bears at Hudson Bay, continue the animal sightseeing with a boat or kayak trip to experience the beluga whales firsthand. If you are truly adventurous, many tours will allow experienced divers to don a mega-thick wetsuit and snorkel with them in the frigid waters.
When: Over 25000 whales visit the Churchill area between mid-June to mid-August.
Price: Experience these majestic beluga whales for an average of A$200 per three hour tour.
Whale watching is an awesome experience for people of all ages, but the ride is not always very smooth. These massive creatures can stir up big waves and strong currents, making your boat ride rocky. If you are easily prone to seasickness, save on medical costs with travel health insurance in case a severe case of nausea and dizziness results in a detour to the hospital.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Barney Moss; cropped from original