By Evie Carrick
Updated: May 28, 2019
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There’s something magical about whales. It may be the fact that one species – the blue whale – is the largest animal on Earth, reaching as much as 100 feet in length and weighing as much as 300,000 pounds. Or maybe it’s that whales are warm blooded, breathe air, and nurse their young — yet manage to live in the ocean, with some species diving over 600 feet to hunt while holding their breath for up to an hour and a half.

Above all, whales are elusive. However, most migrate toward the equator to breed and give birth in where its warm before heading to the poles to feed in food-rich waters. Because of these migrations, whale watching hot spots vary by season and by hemisphere. For your best shot at spotting one of these majestic creatures, plan a trip to one (or more) of the world’s best summer whale watching destinations below.

The Azores, Portugal

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When to go: April to October

What you can see: Sperm, humpback, blue, and fin whales

It might take an extra flight to get to the Azores, which are part of Portugal but sit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but serious whale watchers are rewarded with almost guaranteed whale sightings in season. Sperm whales live off the largest island of Sao Miguel year-round and sightings of humpback, blue, and fin whales are common. Tour operators like Moby Dick even boast a satisfaction-guaranteed tour policy.

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada

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When to go: June to October, but August is best

What you can see: Fin, humpback, minke, and the northern right whale

The Bay of Fundy boasts over 12 whale species making it easily one of the best whale-watching spots in eastern Canada. Here, visitors often spot fin, humpback, minke, and northern right whales. The latter is one of the most endangered whale species in the world – so avid whale watchers will be happy to know that according to National Geographic, the bay attracts the largest population of North Atlantic right whales in the world.

Hervey Bay, Australia

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When to go: Late-July to October

What you can see: Humpback whales

In late summer, humpback whales on their way to Antarctica to feed stop in Hervey Bay where they can grow their young in safe waters. Although humpbacks are the most common during this season, the Australian site Wild About Whales says that minke, orcas, pygmy sperm whales, and Bryde’s whales have also been spotted in Australian waters.

Saguenay, Quebec, Canada

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When to go: June to September

What you can see: Beluga, humpback, and blue whales

This whale-watching spot is actually a marine park that’s the year-round home to around 1,000 beluga whales – a particularly intelligent species of whale. During high season, around 13 additional whale species come to feed in preparation for the long winter migration. The safe haven is also home to the world’s largest animal, the blue whale.

Husavik, Iceland

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When to go: May to August

What you can see: Minke and humpback whales

To catch migratory whales in the summer, you’ll might have to head north yourself. During the warmer months in northern Iceland, minke and humpback whales come to feed. Husavik is also a biologist research station to study the communication patterns of whales, so those interested, can learn as well as whale watch.

Gorgona Island, Colombia

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When to go: June to October

What you can see: Humpback whales

The entire Pacific coast of Colombia is whale-rich during the summer season. Since the coast of Colombia is near the equator, its warm waters sees whales coming north from the Southern Hemisphere to breed and give birth. Gogona Island is one of the country’s best whale-watching destinations as humpback whales and their calves hide out in the safe haven provided by the National Natural Park of Gorgona.

Disko Bay, Greenland

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When to go: June to August

What you can see: Humpback, minke, fin, beluga, narwhals, and bowhead whales

In Greenland, rarely seen whale species – like narwhals and bowhead whales – live alongside another dozen or so species. In the summer season, you’re more likely to see humpback, minke, and fin whales – although since bowhead whales are typically non-migratory, you may luck out and spot one.

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