The Where and When of Whale Watching - No Passport Required

Feb 22, 2018

Witnessing a 50-foot-long underwater creature as it gracefully emerges from beneath the ocean surface is an experience one must see to fully appreciate. However, it’s important to know where and when to go -- otherwise you might be sorely disappointed.

We’ve compiled a list of the best places to spot whales in the U.S., along with when you can see them and which species you can expect to find.



Best season: May to September

Whales to see: Humpback and orca whales

Maui, Hawaii

Best season: December to April

Whales to see: Mostly humpback whales but pilot whales, sperm whales and melon-headed whales can be spotted


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Gloucester, Massachusetts

Best season: April and November

Whales to see: Humpback, finback, and minke whales


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Monterey, California

Best season: April to December for humpback and blue whales, December to April for gray whales


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San Juan Islands, Washington

Best season: Summer for humpback, minke and gray whales; orcas are year-round


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Bar Harbor, Maine

Best season: April-September

Whales to see: Humpback, finback, minke, sperm and sei whales


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Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Best season: April to October

Whales to see: Humpback, finback and minke whales


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San Diego, California

Best season: Mid December to mid-March for gray whale sightings, mid-June to September for blue and finback whales


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Now before you head out on a whale watching excursion, here’s some whale trivia to get you started:

Humpback -

  • 48-62.5 ft
  • 40 tons
  • Fun fact: Newborn humpback whales double their length in a year.

Orca -

  • 23-32 ft
  • Up to 6 tons
  • Fun fact: Orcas are known as killer whales due to their diet of various underwater mammals including sea lions, seals, squid, fish and even other whales.

Minke -

  • 26-32 ft
  • 4-5 tons
  • Fun fact: The singing of a minke whale can reach volumes similar to that of an airplane taking off.

Finback -

  • 65-80 ft
  • 74-114 tons
  • Fun fact: The lower right half of a fin whale’s jaw is white, while the lower left half of its jaw is black.

Sperm -

  • 49-59 ft
  • 35-45 tons
  • Fun fact: Sperm whales consume around a ton of squid and fish per day.

Blue -

  • 82-105 ft
  • Up to 200 tons
  • Fun fact: Blue whales are the largest known mammal to live on Earth. Their tongues can weigh around as much as an elephant.

Gray -

  • 40-50 ft
  • 30-40 tons
  • Fun fact: Gray whales swim over 12,000 miles annually as they migrate from Alaska to Mexico.
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