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10 of the best places in the world to spot whales and dolphins

If whale watching and dolphin spotting are high on the priority list for your next travel adventure, here are some of the best locations in the world to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.



Take a break from hiking on our Azores Island Hopping Walking Tour to go in search of whales and dolphins on a local boat trip. From Giant Sperm and Short-nosed Pilot whale to Atlantic Spotted dolphin, over 25 species can be spotted off the temperate coastal waters of Sao Miguel Island in the Azores archipelago. Head here between April and October to catch the main whale-watching season, but to see the most extensive variety of species, April to June is usually the prime time to visit. 


Towering walls of ice rise up all around you as you cruise along the calm, sub-zero glacial waters of Kenai Fjords National Park on our Outdoor Alaska Discovery Tour. This vast icy landscape boasts a rich variety of marine wildlife including puffin, sea otter, sea lion and Dall porpoise. The stars of the show are, of course, the Orca and Humpback whale which have been known to breach here; bursting up through the surface of the water, they crash back down in a spectacular geyser of glistening spray. 

South Africa

Hermanus in South Africa is renowned for some of the world’s best shore-based whale watching. For the best vantage point on our South African Garden Route Tour make your way along coastal paths to the top of the rugged ocean cliffs. Southern Right, Bryde and Humpback are just a few of the species of whale that can be spotted here. Peer over the edge for the chance to see the ghostly silhouette of the whales gently gliding through the bay. And, if you’re not sure of the best time to look, listen out for the town’s ‘whale crier’ whose bellowing horn indicates that a pod is nearby.

Sri Lanka

The cobalt-blue sea off the coast of Trincomalee in eastern Sri Lanka is one of the few places in the world where Blue and Sperm whale can be spotted from the land. Head to the ancient Koneswaram Temple on an eastern departure of our Highlights of Sri Lanka tour for the best view. Set upon the edge of tiered red rock, this sacred place of worship looks out across the vast Indian Ocean, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Peer over the edge of the cliffs with binoculars in hand, and look out for a pod of gentle giants swirling in the deep waters below. 

Madeira, Portugal

Climb on board a classic wooden sailing boat for a voyage to the uninhabited Desertas Islands on our Madeira Island Discovery Tour. Located to the south of Madeira this archipelago nature reserve is a haven for a variety of rare marine life, including the endangered Monk seal. Keep a look out over the azure-blue sea for the blowhole spray of whale coming to the surface and, if we’re lucky, a pod of dolphin may come to play in the bow wave of the boat as we glide through the ocean waves.


Ever seen a pink dolphin? Not many people have. Get set for an unforgettable voyage to the South Sea Island National Park in Thailand to seek out this unique species on our Family Thailand Jungle and Islands Adventure. Officially known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, these endangered creatures are born grey and turn pink as they get older. Keep your eyes peeled for their blush-coloured fins cutting through the surface of the water as we cruise through the crystalline waters of Taled Bay.


The Amazon River may not be the most obvious location for spotting dolphins, but the Amazon Pink River dolphin can be sighted throughout this vast freshwater basin. Take a voyage from Belem to Manaus to discover the spectacular ecosystem of the Amazon on our Brazilian Amazon By Boat Tour for a chance to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat. As we float along the palm-lined river banks, we also hope to see gigantic Victoria Regia water lily, hummingbirds, water buffalo, monkey and sloth.


Embark on a voyage of discovery into the frozen south of Antarctica in search of penguin, seal and whale on our Classic Antarctica Expedition. Drift past vast icebergs jolting through the icy aquamarine waters as you navigate through the glacial waters surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and feel the hairs on your neck stand on end when you spot a pod of Humpback whale stirring up the water to feed - this is a whale-watching experience like no other.


You’ll never forget the moment you see the pearly-white belly of an Orca whale soar out of the glistening water, into a clear blue sky and crash back down into the waves with an enormous splash. Whale-watching off the coast of the North Pacific Ocean in Canada is renowned for its large number of sightings and spectacular breachings. Set off from the wild beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park to go in search of Orca, Gray, Humpback and Minke whale on our Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast Tour.


A gentle cruise down the palm-fringed banks of the Mekong River on our Spirit of Laos Tour takes us to an area known as the Four Thousand Islands where a maze of tributaries and channels flow around a central landmass called Don Khon Island. Home to a small pod of Irrawaddy River dolphins, we’ll venture out in small boats to try and get a view of these magical creatures. Extremely rare and on the verge of extinction, these gentle round-headed dolphins are considered sacred by the local people and are a vital part of the Mekong ecosystem. 


Want to discover more whale and dolphin watching trips?

See all of our whale and dolphin watching trips.

Please note that while the locations mentioned here are renowned for whale and dolphin watching, sightings of these wild mammals in their natural environment are never guaranteed. 

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