Trip reports and reviews are an amazingly accurate way of determining where the best areas on earth are to see marine animals because you are getting honest and relevant information from people who have already been there.
By comparing masses of travel reviews and reports that exist on the net or were submitted to the Top Adventure Tours website it soon become clear to me which destinations are the crème de la crème of whale spotting and I've (more about me) ranked them below accordingly.
The listing is grouped by whale species so that you can see exactly where the best destinations in the world are to see Sperm, Humpback, Southern Right, Killer (Orca), Finback and Short-finned Pilot whales.
- Kaikoura, New Zealand ( Trip reports for this destination )
What you will see: This is one of the best places to see Sperm whales anywhere on the planet so your chances are very good to spot several of them as they float on the surface before diving.
In fact, the same ones are viewed so regularly that the whale watch boat operators have given some of them names like Noodle, Taoi, Big Nic, Little Nic and Tiaki.
When to go: Due to the super abundance of food for the Sperm whales here as a result of a 2km deep trench in the ocean where colliding currents create an upwelling, they don't migrate so you can watch them all year round (dependent on weather).
Who to go with: Try the award winning Whale Watch company situated at the Whaleway station in Kaikoura.
- Kona & Maui, Hawaii ( Trip reports for this destination )
What you will see: Humpback whale and many of them will have babies because this is where they spend their time calving.
When to go: Best time to see them is between January and April each year.
Who to go with: These are the top three whale watching Hawaii cruise operators and how much it will cost you for the privilege of watching Humpback whales here.
- Hermanus, South Africa ( Trip reports for this destination )
What you will see: Southern right whales hugging the bays and coves of the coastline to protect and rear their babies so you will be able to see them right from the shore and not need to go out on a boat. Breaching is a regular and spectacular occurrence with these whales.
When to go: From August through to November.
Who to go with: Whale watching is done from the cliffs off the coast and only limited boats are allowed so as to minimise the disturbance of the mating and breeding of these magnificent ceteceans.
- Vancouver Island, Canada ( Trip reports for this destination )
What you will see: Killer whales cruising effortlessly along the Johnstone Strait sometimes in pods of up to 30 members when they join forces to hunt. You can even go on a kayaking trip that will bring you heart thumpingly close to these amazing animals.
When to go: The season runs from July through September which is when large numbers of salmon choke the strait and provide the Orcas with a plentiful food supply.
Who to go with: For kayaking tours Coastal Spirits Expeditions provides comfortable accommodation and expert guidance. To go on a boat whale watching tour here, Great Pacific Adventures is an excellent choice.
- Azores, Portugal
What you will see: This is a great place to see many different species of whale and Short-finned Pilot whales are spotted here on a regular basis.
When to go: The viewing season here between May and October is not determined by whale migrations (many are present all year round) but by the weather.
Who to go with: Whale Watch Azores has been conducting tours in this area since 1993 so they know it - and just as importantly the whale inhabitants - really well.
- Massachusetts, USA
What you will see: The finback, which is the second largest of the whale species in the world (the blue whale is the largest) is seen on a regular basis in the waters around Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
When to go: June through to September is the best time to go.
Who to go with: The Dolphin Fleet and Portuguese Princess Excursions are specialists in finding whales.