Whether as part of an independent touring holiday in New Zealand, a cruise into the pristine wilderness of the Polar regions or combined with your search for the northern lights in Iceland, we have cetacean encounters to tempt.
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Iceland has a well deserved whale watching reputation, with Husavik in the north east of the country known as the 'whale watching capital of Europe'. There are also opportunities for marine encounters from Reykjavik and off the Snaefellsnes Peninsula too, which can be incorporated into many of our independent touring holidays.
Around one quarter of the world's cetacean species have been recorded in Iceland's nutrient-rich waters. Minke whale, humpback whale, blue whale, fin whale, sei whale, sperm whale, orca, pilot whale, white-beaked dolphin and harbour porpoise are regularly encountered. There are often surprises as well - previously, three rare northern bottlenose whales showed up.
Combine with the northern lights
With spectacular killer whale sightings possible between February and March from Grundafjordur off the Snaefellsnes coast, this is the perfect opportunity to combine a whale watching short break with the chance to spot the northern lights. Find out about our 4 night Killer Whales and the Northern Lights holiday »
Boats for all seas
Whether your trip is a sheltered fjord cruise or an adventure on the open seas, the boats used are tried and tested for the conditions, expertly crewed and offer ample deck space for viewing and photographing.
Accurate sightings records are kept and while every year is different, we know where particular species are most likely to be seen. At Husavik in 2008, there were reliable sightings of humpback whales (68% of voyages), Minke whale (48%), and white beaked dolphins (28%). 98% of voyages were marked as successful, meaning that something bigger than a porpoise was clearly visible to all on the boat.
The bird life
Iceland boasts huge colonies of nesting seabirds and on whale watching trips you may also encounter puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and glaucos gulls.
Holidays and Excursions in Iceland
With thousands of miles of unspoiled coast and unpolluted nutrient-rich seas, New Zealand’s coastal waters attract a variety of whales and dolphins, which can be spotted from the shore and on boat excursions. Sperm whales, dusky dolphins, common dolphins and Hector’s dolphins are the species most commonly observed. Whale and dolphin watching excursions can easily be incorporated into your independent touring itinerary.
The most reliable place to see whales in New Zealand is at Kaikoura. Mighty sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, gather to feed just a few miles off this seaside town on the east coast of the South Island. Visitors can enjoy sightings of them on a whale watching cruise or during a thrilling scenic flight over the ocean.
Acrobatic dusky dolphins and occasionally other species are also observed on these trips and on special dolphin swimming excursions. Hector’s dolphins are one of the smallest species and are only found around New Zealand. They are most commonly seen around the South Island on boat trips from Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula and from some of the West Coast beaches, where they can be seen frolicking in the surf. Common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins are frequently encountered in New Zealand’s coastal waters along with visiting orca and humpback whales.
Below is a list of places throughout New Zealand where dolphin watching and swimming trips operate:
Paihia (Bay of Islands)*
Whakatane (Bay of Plenty)*
Akaroa (Banks Peninsula)*
Milford & Doubtful Sounds
* offers the chance to swim with dolphins, when conditions are right but cannot be guaranteed
Contact our team for further information.
Holidays in New Zealand
Whales can be seen from many scenic spots along Australia’s impressive coastline between May and November. Whale watching boat tours make it easy to catch a glimpse of these gentle, majestic creatures. The vessels used are fast, modern and comfortable with plenty of whale watching deck space.
Some of the top spots for whale watching in Australia are listed below but there are plenty of others too.
In late April, humpback and southern right whales start travelling from the food-rich southern ocean to breeding grounds in the warm northern waters. In September, head to Dunsborough to see rare blue whales and calves take refuge in the calm waters, together with bottlenosed dolphins. From late March to June each year, experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of snorkelling with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Marine Park. Though sharks and not whales, these striking creatures grow up to 16 metres and are the world's largest fish!
Between June and September southern right whales calve in the nursery close to shore at Logans Beach in Warrnambool. In May, you might be able to catch rare blue whales in their last feeding month at Cape Nelson.
New South Wales
Cruise out of Sydney Harbour and into the heads, where between May and late November, gracious humpbacks make their way up the east coast. To the south in the calm, clear waters of Jervis Bay Marine Park, spot bottlenosed dolphins and humpbacks.
Between late July and early November, Hervey Bay is Australia’s whale watching capital. Get splashed by the humpback’s tail slapping on a cruise, or for a closer encounter, head to Port Douglas to snorkel with dwarf minke whales.
Holidays in Australia
More than 33 species of whale live in Canada’s oceans. Whale watching trips are available between April and October, in small zodiacs, sailing boats, comfortable cruisers and, in Newfoundland, from the shore. It's easy to see why this is one of the most popular excursions in Canada.
Pacific West Coast
This is one of the best spots in the world to watch orca (killer) whales, which live in the Pacific Ocean off Vancouver Island. The glorious waters of the Johnston Strait between island and the main coast are home to nearly 300 of these majestic and playful creatures from late June to October. On a boat cruise also keep your eyes peeled for humpback, minke and grey whales, porpoise, seals, otters and many marine birds.
Enormous grey whales can be seen blowing fountains of sea water off the coast of Vancouver Island as they migrate northwards between March and April and every summer up to 100 humpback whales gather in the rich waters of the Frederick Sound in central Southeast Alaska.
Atlantic East Coast
This region of Canada, particularly Newfoundland, is known for its humpback whales. Witness the sight of 50 tons of whale breaching and landing in an explosive splash. Twenty-two species of whale live along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. An astonishing five thousand humpbacks visit during the summer months. Minke and orca are also common, and there are fin, sperm, porpoise and dolphin to keep a look out for.
The Churchill River estuary in the summer is one of the best places in the world to view beluga whales. Where the warm waters of the Churchill River flow into Hudson Bay, over 3000 Beluga whales frolic, feed and raise their young before migrating north to the Arctic Ocean at the end of the summer.
Holidays in Canada
The magnificent Norwegian coastline stretches 2650 km from south to north with over 55,000 km of additional island and fjord coastline. The nutrient rich seas attract many cetaceans, such as sperm, pilot, humpback, orca and minke whales as well as different species of dolphins.
Whales can be spotted all along this lengthy coastline. However, the most reliable place to spot them, with a 95-99% success rate, is from Andenes where the edge of the continental shelf is at it’s closest to land. A special deep sea area called Bleik Canyon was formed thousands of years ago. This extraordinary spot provides a stable stock of sperm whales with food such as deep sea squid and fish.
Holidays in Norway
One of the key features of Polar voyaging is the wildlife encounters and whale watching certainly plays its part.
The nutrient-rich Arctic waters attract a host of cetaceans, and it is here that beluga, narwhal and the rare Greenland whale can be observed togehther with other species such as orca, grey, minke, blue and humpback during the Arctic summer.
Antarctica and Beyond
The southern oceans are popular feeding ground for an impressive list of cetaceans including humpback whales around the Antarctic Peninsula, which are often observed lunge feeding near the surface or breaching. Fin and sei whales occasionally make an appearance while the more numerous minke whale is likely to be encountered near the pack ice. You may even be lucky enough to witness pods of killer whale. The best time for whale watching is at the end of the season in February and March.
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