Whale Watching

Destinations: Monterey, Alaska, Maui, Cape Cod, Seattle

Themes: Beach Vacations, Cruises, Ecotourism, Outdoor Adventures

The sight of a back-flipping Humpback whale, arcing gracefully out of the sea, is enough to make anyone’s heart soar. Luckily, whale watching’s global popularity makes it easy to view these charismatic cetaceans.

Whale watching as a recreational activity began in the 1950s when San Diegans designated Cabrillo National Monument as an official Gray whale viewing site. Soon, cheap whale-viewing boat tours cropped up. But the real surge in whale watching came in the 1970s when New England—which has a rich maritime history—hopped on board.

Today, whale-watching tours usually have on-board marine biologists to educate guests. Many tour companies tout eco-friendly, quiet-engine boats that minimize ecosystem impact. Others aim to get you in the water—in tropical areas, of course. Catamaran cruises in Hawaii provide opportunities to see Humpbacks, followed by a snorkeling stop. While underwater, listen carefully—you may hear the haunting yet serene whale’s song.

Monterey, Calif., is a Gray whale hotspot. Go to Alaska or Quebec, Canada to see Belugas; Cape Cod or Hawaii to see Humpbacks; and Kaikoura, New Zealand to view giant sperm whales.

Articles About Whale Watching

Big Skies and Silly Birds Abound in Argentina’s Península Valdés

What do whales, penguins and seals do if they’re not in the zoo or aquarium? They go to Península Valdés.

The Return of Big Blue

After decades of exile, blue whales, the largest animals on earth, return to the coast of California.

Animal Encounters on Cape Cod

Learn where to spot whales, birds and other wildlife during your Cape Cod vacation in autumn.

7 New England Family Road Trips

Take a family vacation road trip to these New England destinations that are kid-friendly and affordable.

Los Cabos Adventure Activities

Cabo activity options—from whale watching and deep sea fishing, to horseback riding and desert treks and more—are sure to fit any family itinerary.

Mellowing Out in Mendocino

Whales, wine, redwoods, art—all come together blissfully in this picturesque Northern California community.