Humpback whales breaching

Your Guide to Whale Watching in Canada this Summer

Home Destinations Americas Canada Your Guide to Whale Watching in Canada this Summer

Some of the earth’s most awe-inspiring species of whales live in the seas surrounding Canada, and to encounter them close-up is a truly wonderful experience. Read our guide answering some of the common questions about whale watching in Canada and how you can watch these breathtaking mammals in the nutrient-rich coastal waters.

What kind of whales are in Canada?

Canada’s surrounding waters are home to a wide range of whale species. The most commonly found are humpback, beluga, grey and orca. Canada has over 200,000km of coastline, meaning that it is possible to find a plethora of the 30+ whale species that call these waters their home throughout your trip.

What is the best season for whale watching?

Depending on where in Canada you are visiting, whales are most regularly seen during the summer months from May to September, though the whale watching season extends from April to October. Due to the three oceans that surround Canada, there are migratory routes that help bring many whales through the area to feed during the summer, meaning you have a high chance of spotting them.

When can you see whales in Canada?

There is no specific time of day to see whales but there are certainly some times that can be more picturesque than others. Overhead light hits between 11am and 3pm, highlighting the azure water and potentially offering calm conditions for whale watching. Having said that, whale pods move as they feed and usually whale watching boats will keep in contact with one another, so you will be able to move towards them no matter the time of day and hopefully find the perfect spot from which to see them.

atlantic canada humpback whale tail ac

Where are beluga whales found in Canada?

Beluga whales can be seen during the summer months on the northern and eastern shores of Canada, particularly Churchill in Manitoba, and Saguenay Fjord in Quebec. They are Arctic Ocean dwellers and enjoy the icy waters close to the coast, meaning you can even see them from land sometimes.There are some huge pods that spend their time in the St. Lawrence River and Hudson Bay areas and can be dependably seen in these waters during the summer months.

Where can you see humpback whales in Canada?

While humpbacks can be found in every ocean in the world, some of the best opportunities are in Canada. On the Atlantic coast, the Gulf of St Lawrence around Newfoundland and Labrador is the stand-out location, boasting the world’s largest population of humpbacks. They are also commonly found at Tadoussac in Quebec, in the Bay of Fundy and off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia as well as in British Columbia in western Canada.

Where can you see orca whales in Canada?

If you’re looking to spot orcas on your trip to Canada, it’s best to start in the west. Johnstone Strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland in British Columbia has a resident pod that lives there all year round as well as a migratory population that joins in peak summertime in July and August. With so many orcas drawn to British Columbia’s waters because of the salmon population, you can even enjoy kayaking with these incredible animals, getting up close and personal in their natural habitat.

When can you see whales in Vancouver?

Although Vancouver is a hugely popular location for people visiting Canada, we tend not to recommend going out of Vancouver itself. It does offer some good whale watching opportunities but can take a long time to reach the key areas, which means more travel time and less whale time. It’s usually better to go out from Victoria on Vancouver Island or, better still, Telegraph Cove on the northeast coast of the island.

Pod of orca

How much does it cost to go whale watching in Vancouver?

Vancouver is not the best place to start your whale watching journey from, so you might want to look at starting elsewhere – Vancouver Island is a better spot. We offer a wide range of experiences for those looking to spot these spectacular creatures, meaning differing prices and trip lengths. Find your perfect trip in our Canada Whale Watching section.

How long does whale watching take?

A typical whale watching excursion lasts between 2.5 and 3 hours with a good portion of that time cruising at sea in search of these creatures of the deep. Some species range further from the shore, such as humpbacks and blue whales, so searching them out would add some time to your trip.

Find out more about Canada whale watching holidays or give our experts a call on 01737 214 250.