Where Can You Watch Blue Whales In North America?


I have never seen a blue whale, but that is going to change shortly and I cannot wait. I wanted to find out the best destinations in North America to see one of them so I can plan accordingly.

Blue whales can be seen in many towns and cities around North America. From Hawaii to Alaska, and from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Nunavut, blue whales can be seen off the coasts of the U.S. and Canada.

If you want to see the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth, then please read on for the best blue whale watching destinations in North America. 

Blue whale

Where Can Blue Whales Be Seen?

Blue whales are the larges animals that have ever lived on the planet. Blue whales, unlike other species of whales, are not very social. Blue whales are usually spotted alone or in small groups in their natural habitat.

They live in large numbers in the Southern Hemisphere, and in the Northern Hemisphere, they can be seen in many areas, including the Gulf of St. Lawrence and some areas of California and Mexico. 

The blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived. To find out the top ten largest whales, click here to see an article I have written.

Where Can You See Blue Whales In The U.S?

In the U.S. there are many areas where you can go for blue whale watching. The U.S. has some of the best places to watch blue whales in the word, as does Canada.  

Here are some of the top sites in America where blue whales are the main attractions. 

Blue whale

Long Island, New York

The best time to visit Long Island for whale watching is between July and early September.

You will have a chance to see many species of whales, including the blue whale, North Atlantic right whale and sei whales. Long Island offers an incredibly diverse set of whale watching experiences that you shouldn’t miss.

Most people don’t think of New York as a whale-watching place, but there are so many species in the area. There have been about 25 different species of whales sighted in the area.

Long Island is also one of the best areas where you can watch whales very close to boats, ideal if you are on a whale-watching trip.

Monterey Bay, California 

The Blue whale population in California is one of the highest. Scientists estimate that California has about 2,000 individuals, which makes the state one of the main destinations in North America to watch blue whales.

Blue whale

The main reason why blue whales are found in Monterey Bay in large numbers is because of the high concentration of their main food, krill. 

Monterey Bay has some fantastic whale watching opportunities. There are many tour operators, with many having researchers accompanying you.

These can help to identify the individual whales in the area, which they do by experience, and also by the different markings on them. They will take photos of the dorsal fin and the tail flukes from different species of whales. 

The best time of the year to see Blue whales in Monterey Bay is November when they are beginning their migration down to the warmer climates of Baja California.

San Diego, California

If you want to have an experience of a lifetime, then San Diego has you covered. There are very few places in the world where you can swim with blue whales. San Diego is one of them.

Blue whale

Freediving with blue whales is a once in a lifetime experience, matched by the price. However, you can also snorkel with them, and this may be a good option for non-divers.

Please note that the number of people that can swim with these animals is highly regulated to avoid disturbing them.

If you want to stay on a boat, then San Diego is still an amazing place to see blue whales. This is the best place to look at the biggest animal in the world and have a chance to come as close to it as possible.

For the best time to visit San Diego to see blue whales, visit the area from July to August.

Depoe Bay, Oregon

If you do not want to plan your trip around whale watching, then Depoe Bay is for you. You can visit any time of the year and still have a chance to see blue whales.

Depoe Bay is one of the best places to see them as blue whales in the area do not migrate. 

Blue whale

Depoe Bay is a small town in Oregon that has several whale varieties. The whales travel by the coastline in groups, with gray whales migrating between December and January.

There are approximately 20,000 gray whales that swim past the bay. 

You can plan an afternoon at the whale watching center, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

There is staff on hand to help you look for and identify whales swimming past.

Massachusetts

This site is named as one of the top ten world Blue whale watching sites according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Most people come here for whale watching between April and October. Researchers and tourists can visit during these times, and a fantastic experience is almost guaranteed.

Whale watching cruises depart from Cape Cod, making it a good starting spot to explore the area.

Blue whale

Alaska 

Alaska is another beautiful place which you can visit to watch blue whales and other species. You are likely to find Gray whales and killer whales at any time of the year.

However, if you visit in July or August in the eastern and northern areas of the Gulf of Alaska, then you may be lucky enough to spot blue whales.

Hawaii

Not only one of the most beautiful collections of islands in the world, but Hawaii also has over a dozen species of whales, including blue whales. Blue whales migrate to Hawaii in winter, where they can be seen offshore.  

Maui is one of the best whale watching islands, but in Hawaii, you are never too far from a fantastic whale watching tour operator.  

Where Can You See Blue Whales In The Canada?

Canada has many fantastic places to see a variety of whales. There are many areas where you can pass the time looking for blue whales. Despite the already discussed locations in the U.S., here are additional places for Blue whale watching in Canada.

Blue whale

British Columbia

British Columbia is rich in marine life with an environment for safe, undisturbed whale-watching sites. You can see blue whales, humpbacks and right whales among many other species. The best time to visit is October through January. This is the time when the climate is just turning colder.

Blue whales have only just returned to British Columbia, so a sighting would be rare. However, scientists believe that they may be returning to the area.

Gulf of St. Lawrence

Blue whales can be seen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Blue whales can be seen in the area due to the amount of krill in the water here, and the area is an important feeding ground. Blue whales can be found all year in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and almost year-round in the Lower Estuary.  

Baffin Island

Blue whales can be found between Baffin Island and Greenland. Other whales that can be seen in the area include narwhals and pods of belugas, so this area is a fantastic place to watch a variety of rare whales. Bowhead whales can also be spotted in the area.

Blue whale

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is a province in Canada that serves as one of the most popular whale-watching destinations. The site features about 12 different species of whales, including the Blue whale.

The best time to visit is during the summer and through to fall. The awe-inspiring creatures can be easily found in the waters of Cape Breton Island.

Blue whales are amazing animals and seeing one is a life-affirming moment in time you will never forget. With this article, I hope you get a chance to visit some of these places and come face to face with the largest animal that has ever lived.

If you want to know where to watch gray whales, I have written an article which you can find here.

References

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Carwardine, M. (2010). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Carwardine, M. (2017). Mark Carwardine’s guide to whale watching in North America : USA, Canada, Mexico, where to go, what to see. London: Bloomsbury.

Hadoram Shirihai, Jarrett, B., Graeme Cresswell and Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Whales, dolphins and seals : a field guide to the marine mammals of the world. London: Bloomsbury Wildlife.

Martin, T. (1990). The illustrated encyclopedia of whales and dolphins. Hodder.

Nowak, R.M. and Walker, E.P. (1991). Walker’s mammals of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Perrin, W.F., Würsig, B.G. and J  G  M Thewissen (2002). Encyclopedia of marine mammals. San Diego: Academic Press.

Richard John Harrison and Bryden, M.M. (1990). Whales, dolphins and porpoises. London: Merehurst.

Williams, H. (1988). Whale nation. London: Cape.

Wilson, D.E. (1999). The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. Washington: Smithsonian Inst. Press.

May, J. (1990). The Greenpeace book of dolphins. London: Century.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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