With three major oceans surrounding us, Canada has many ideal locations for whale watching, where you can observe a wide range of different types of whales. Many whale watching trips will provide you with the chance to see humpback whales, orcas, and grey whales, among others. You might even be lucky enough to see a blue whale, a beluga, or a narwhal if you are lucky.
You can whale watch on the shore, on a boat, on a kayak, or on a zodiac. We recommend finding a boat or zodiac to watch from, especially if you want a close-up view. The places that we have listed below often have many different whale-watching outfitters to choose from, so be sure to pick the experience that’s best for you!
Newfoundland and Labrador
Whales: Humpback. Also, minke and fin whales, porpoises, dolphins and more!
Best Time to Visit: May to September
Newfoundland and Labrador are renowned for their whale watching all over the world. There are 22 species of whales to view in the area, including sperm whales, humpback whales, potheads, blue whales, orcas, and the world’s biggest population of humpback whales. Not only can you see whales, but icebergs, puffins, and other wildlife. There is countless whale watching experiences in the area, book a boat tour or brave the waters in a kayak. You might also have the opportunity to tour sea caves and the surrounding cliffs.
Bay Bulls, Newfoundland
At Bay Bulls, not only will you likely catch sight of whales, but you’re also sure to see thousands of puffins. Whales love the krill, squid, and capelin found in these waters. Some of the more popular breeds to spot are humpback, orca, blue, and fin whales. Newfoundland has the largest population of humpback whales in the world in the summer. You can watch for fins from the shore, sea kayak the waves, or book a boat tour.
St. Anthony’s, Newfoundland
A trip to north Newfoundland will bring you to the adorable town of St. Anthony’s. This town is abundant with whales and icebergs and claims to be the whale watching capital of Newfoundland. Book a boat or zodiac tour for views of whales, dolphins, seabirds, and icebergs. Some of the boats also include traditional Newfoundland folk music. If you come in June, don’t forget to check out the Iceberg Festival held every Friday of the month.
Whales: Humpback, minke, and fin whales. Possibly North Atlantic Right whale, white-beaked dolphins, Sei whale, and Pilot whales.
Best Time to Visit: June to October. The best month is August.
Up to 300 whales at a time have been spotted in the picturesque Bay of Fundy, located between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Book a tour or watch from the shore for sights of humpback, minke, and finback (the second largest species) whales. If you’re lucky, you might also get views of pilot, blue, and killer whales as well.
Bay of Fundy
With the world’s highest tides, the Bay of Fundy is an ideal place to see an abundance of whales, including some of the world’s most endangered species. The high tides bring a surplus of food, such as plankton, krill, and various fish. Second, the area is sheltered, and whales can feed, give birth, and raise their calves here. Include whale watching on your New Brunswick road trip journey!
Whales: Pilot and minke whales. Atlantic white-sided dolphins as well as other species.
Best Time to Visit: July to September
Nova Scotia has many whale watching opportunities. In addition to being a starting point to the Bay of Fundy, whales can be seen off the coast of Nova Scotia all over the province. In addition to almost 22 species of whales, you might also spot sharks, bluefin tuna, and leatherback turtles if you’re lucky.
Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia
If you’re looking for a place that doesn’t require you to leave the stability of the shore, Cape Breton Highlands is an excellent spot for sights of humpbacks and fin whales breaching and slapping their tails against the water. Want to get closer? Cape Breton Highlands offers numerous whale-watching excursions for your convenience. You can also make whale watching a part of your Cabot Trail Roadtrip.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Just over an hour’s drive from Halifax, Lunenburg is a delightful fishing village with many things to do, including whale watching. Book a whale watching tour for up-close and personal encounters with minke, pilot, finback, and humpback whales. You also might get to see seals, porpoises, and dolphins.
Whales: Minke, humpback, and beluga. Occasionally blue whales and other species.
Best Time to Visit: May to October
If you want to see blue whales, belugas, minke, humpback, and many others, Quebec is a great choice. The expansive Gulf of St. Lawrence extends from Quebec all the way to New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Depending on the species you want to see, you can see whales almost year around in Quebec. Take a day or two for whale watching, or go on a 13-day Whaleroute trip from Tadoussac to Blanc-Sablon.
Tadoussac is a fantastic spot for the sights of many different types of whales. Catch glimpses of blue, beluga, minke, and humpback whales eating where the freshwater of the Saguenay River meets the salty of St. Lawrence. You can pick a whale watching tour that suits your needs. Zodiac trips or enclosed cruises are both available from Tadoussac. You can also often catch glimpses from the shore.
Best Time to Visit: July and August
While the prairies probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking about whale watching, Manitoba is one of the best places for beluga sightings. Head up north to Churchill, Manitoba in the summer and you are almost guaranteed to see some of these playful arctic whales.
Way up north in Churchill is an ideal spot to view beluga whales. The Churchill River is abundant with these arctic whales in July and August when thousands of belugas migrate to calf in the river. Up to 50,000 belugas make Churchill not only the polar bear capital of the world but also the Beluga capital of the world, with the largest Beluga migration globally. There are many different outfitters for a Churchill whale-watching trip. Take a boat, paddle the river by kayak, or take a raft with the serene white wales.
Whales: Orcas, humpback, gray whales.
Best Time to Visit: April to October
There are a plethora of whale watching opportunities in Western BC. With some tours guaranteeing sights of orcas, BC is also the summer home for humpback, grey, and minke whales. Book a boat or zodiac tour or enjoy a kayaking trip with these gigantic animals.
Stevenson, British Columbia
You don’t need to travel far from a city to get amazing sights of whales. Stevenson is just 30 minutes from Vancouver and an excellent place for orca whale watching tours. Seabreeze adventures guarantee that you will spot whales during your trip. If you’re lucky, you might also catch sights of humpback, minke, and grey whales, as well as porpoises, seals, sea lions, and eagles.
Tofino, British Columbia
Whales: Grey whales. Possibly humpback and orcas as well.
Best Time to Visit: February to October
The gorgeous beach town of Tofino is a beautiful place for sights of grey whales as they migrate north from the Baja Peninsula to Alaska and back again. You may also be lucky enough for views of humpback whales. Most whale-watching outfitters will take you to Clayoquot Sound. Sometimes you can also catch views of whales from the shore. Tofino celebrates the autumn migration of the grey whales with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March.
Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
Best Time to Visit: July to September
Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve in Telegraph Cove is the only protected area for orca whales in the world. While the cove is closed to boat traffic, book a tour with a kayaking outfitter, bring your own kayak or boat, or hope for views from the shore. Telegraph Cove is also one of the best places for a kayak trip in Canada.
Whales: Narwhals, Belugas, Bowhead whales
Best Time to Visit: August
While Nunavut is a challenge to get to, you will be more than rewarded for your efforts. Home year-round to many species of arctic whales including Narwhals, Belugas, and Bowhead whales, an arctic safari may be the best way to view these majestic creatures.
Pond Inlet, Nunavut
Head to Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, or Resolute for a whale watching trip extraordinaire. Narwhals are elusive animals, difficult to find but breathtaking to spot. Book with a whale-watching outfitter up north. If you want to kayak, we also wrote about kayaking with Narwhals in our Best Kayaking Trips in Canada article.
Cunningham Inlet located way up North in Arctic Watch is a resting point for Beluga whales during their migration. Thousands of whales visit the inlet throughout July and August with pods of varying sizes. Up to 1500 belugas have been seen at the inlet at a time.
Auyuittuq National Park
Literally, the “land that never melts”, this national park located on Baffin Island is a great spot for arctic animal spotting. Most notably, bowhead whales. Bowhead whales are one of the largest whale species in the world and can live up to 200 years. They live exclusively in the arctic and Canada has the largest population of these glorious mammals. They can be spotted on a whale watching trip which often includes views of belugas and other wildlife.
Feature Image: Whale Watching tour in Newfoundland. Image by @jayeffex