Where to Go Whale Watching on a Goway Vacation

Outdoors & Animals

Humpback whale close up breaching off Sydney Harbour at sunset, New South Wales, Australia

There’s something about whales that endlessly fascinate people. Perhaps it’s that they’re mammals that live in the water, which seems like an odd choice for a type of animal we associate with the land. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’re some of the smartest animals on the planet, rivalling the great apes as our closest rivals for intellectual supremacy. Perhaps it’s simply that they’re so large and calming. Whatever it is, people love whales, and going whale watching on a Goway vacation is one of the great pleasures of heading to a coastal region.

Of course, if you want to see whales, you’ll have to know where to travel to. That’s why we’ve put together some of the best places to go whale watching. These eight destinations bring with them the promise to see the gentle giants of the sea – and they’re pretty incredible nations to boot. If you want whale sounds and flukes (tail fins) in your near future, take note of these ideas for a Goway vacation.

Iceland

It might not be the first place you think of, but it’s one of the best places in the world to see whales in the waters of the ocean. In both summer and winter, Iceland attracts orcas, minke whales, humpback whales, and even blue whales to its waters. The best time of year to go whale watching in the country is in summer between April and September. If you’re strapped for time or only sticking to the southwest, you can take a boating excursion from the Old Harbor in Reykjavik. However, if you want to have the best chance to see whales while on an Iceland vacation, head to Husavik, a coastal town north of Akureyri in Northern Iceland; it’s considered the whale watching capital of the country. If you head there in winter, you might even catch the Northern Lights dancing across the sky during your boating excursion.

Historic town of Husavik and its harbour at sunset, northern coast of Iceland
Historic town of Husavik and its harbour at sunset, Iceland

South Africa

There are a few spots where you can see whales while on a trip to South Africa. The main spot is the Cape Peninsula near Cape Town. Southern right whales pass through the waters along the coast and you can also see humpback whales during their migratory journeys. If you want a chance to see whales from the land, head to Cape Point, near Hermanus, or Cape Agulhus between June and November. There are several trails you can walk along the cliff face that’ll give you a chance of seeing the animals in the waters. However, the best way to spot a whale is to head on the water in a small boat and get up close to these mammals. You might even see one breach. If you head along the eastern coastline as far north as KwaZulu-Natal, you also have a chance of spotting humpback whales in the midst of their calving season in July and August.

Suggested Itinerary:
Have a Whale of a Time on Your South Africa Vacation!

Southern Right Whale Breaching Just off the Coast of Hermanus, South Africa
Southern right whale breaching just off the coast of Hermanus, South Africa

The Maldives

Although the Maldives are mostly known for the many incredible private islands and luxury resorts that attract travellers from all over the world, it’s also a nation with a large whale and dolphin population in the waters. You can find over 20 species of whales and dolphins in the waters of the Maldives, as well as plenty of whale sharks (which aren’t technically whales, but are still incredible creatures in their own right). Your best chances to see whales in the Maldives are between February and April and October and November. Hire a boat from your chosen resort and head out on a marine safari in hopes of seeing sperm whales, spinner dolphins, and even blue whales. You could also be lucky enough to see some of the rare types of whales that are hard to find outside the waters of the Maldives, including dwarf sperm whales and melon-headed whales.

Aerial view in Maldives
Aerial view in the Maldives

Australia

There are several spots across Australia that are reliable for whale watching while on a Goway vacation. In Western Australia, you can spot whale sharks at the Ningaloo Reef near Broom and Exmouth, but you can also see orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, and southern right whales throughout the year near Perth. In Southern Australia, you can spot southern right whales between June and August along the coast near Victor Harbor. On the east coast, you might be lucky enough to spot a humpback whale migrating through the waters of Sydney Harbour, but you’d be better off heading north to Queensland around the Sunshine Coast to see the humpback whales during their migration between June and November.

Humpback mother and calf off South Head in Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia
Humpback mother and calf off South Head in Sydney Harbour, Australia

New Zealand

Like neighbouring Australia, New Zealand is also home to migrating whales throughout the year. Along the South Island, you’ll find humpback whales travelling through the waters in the midst of their journeys between Antarctica and the islands of the South Pacific like French Polynesia and Tonga, passing by between June and August. Head near Kaikoura on the South Island for your best chances to see humpback whales, southern right whales, and even blue whales. If you want better weather while seeing whales, head to the country between October and March; you may miss the humpback whales, but you’ll see the other species that live in the waters all year round, such as sperm whales.

Humpback whale captured from Whale watching boat in Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand
Humpback whale captured from whale watching boat in Kaikoura, New Zealand

French Polynesia

If you head on a Goway vacation to Bora Bora in the islands of French Polynesia, you’ll be able to head on whale watching excursions while staying at gorgeous luxury resorts. Between July and October, the humpback whales reach French Polynesian waters to breed and give birth. Humpback whales have even been known to enter the waters of the Bora Bora lagoon in order to seek protection from the sharks that terrorize the tuna schools off the islands. Even if no whales enter the lagoon, you can still spend a morning heading out onto the waters to see them with their calves. You may even have the chance to enter the water and swim alongside them, although you’d have to keep your distance if you do get the chance, especially if the whale has a calf with them.

Aerial view of Bora Bora, Tahiti (French Polynesia)
Aerial view of Bora Bora, Tahiti

Hawaii

Like Bora Bora, the islands of Hawaii offer you the chance to see whales while enjoying an idyllic island escape. You can head on whale watching excursions on all the islands, but the Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai is probably the best spot to see the northern humpback whales that head into the waters to give birth to their young. It’s estimated that around two-thirds of the entire population of North Pacific humpback whales enter the waters throughout the year, so you’ll have a great chance of spotting these mammals while there. If you want to stick to the land to see the whales, head to Makapuu Lighthouse on Oahu or Poipu Beach and Kilaeau Lighthouse on Kauai. At these lookouts, there’s a good chance you’ll spot some off the shoreline.

View from Makapuu Lighthouse in Oahu, Hawaii
View from Makapuu Lighthouse in Oahu, Hawaii

Antarctica

In the above sections, you’ve read about whales leaving the Antarctic waters to breed or feed in the warmer waters of the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean. Well, sometimes you don’t need to wait for the migration to occur to see the whales; sometimes you can simply head to the waters that the whales call home when they’re not migrating – Antarctica. If you head to the Antarctic Peninsula on one of our incredible adventure expeditions, you can see the whales from the deck of your ice breaker or close up while riding a zodiac. You may even be lucky enough to kayak in the waters around Wilhelmina Bay, which are known for their abundance of humpback whales. Mid-February to mid-March is the best time to visit the Antarctic on a Goway vacation, so it’s your best time to see the whales as well.

Humpback Whale Encounter, Antarctica
Close encounter with a humpback whale, Antarctica

Few animals are as majestic as whales. Their songs are soothing and their sheer size is impressive. Heading onto the waters of the Indian Ocean or the South Pacific to see these mammals in their natural environment is an unforgettable experience. If you ever get the chance to go whale watching on a Goway vacation, take it. You won’t be disappointed.