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Whale Watching

Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the most spectacular whale watching places in the world. 22 species of whales, including the minke, sperm, pothead, blue, orca, and the world's largest population of humpbacks, feed on capelin, krill and squid along the coast. Between May and September, these whales can be seen breaching the surface of the water and playing along our shores. Catching a single glimpse of these huge and majestic mammals is an exciting and awesome experience whether it's from the rail of a boat tour, the side of your sea kayak or hiking a seaside trail on land.

Along the way, you'll see caves, waterfalls, and the majesty of the Newfoundland and Labrador coastline including icebergs, seabirds, and other wildlife.

Icebergs, Whales and Birds – the Triple Play!

Triple Play Map

For tourists keen on viewing whales and seabirds, it should be noted that they migrate north in the late spring and early summer – and can often be plentiful through to early fall. The opposing southerly iceberg migration allows for brief intervals where all three may happily coexist. This spectacle is not entirely uncommon but should not necessarily be expected by sightseers even when travelling at the optimal time of year. Many factors affecting timing, location, and populations naturally vary from year to year, so it's hard to be accurate.

How to Watch

By Boat

Boat Tours

What better way to see a whale than to sail to meet one – or more – at sea? Our boat tour operators allow you to do just that, and they know exactly where to find the closest pod. It's not uncommon for a whale or porpoise to investigate a visiting boat; sometimes, you can look over the railing and see a whale – many metres in length – swimming gracefully under your vessel.

By Sea Kayak

This is as close as you'll get to swimming with a whale, porpoise or dolphin. A sea kayak tour offers the information, safety, and entertainment of a boat tour, with the closeness and intimacy of a kayak. Our ocean kayaking operators will take you as far as safely possible to caves, inlets, icebergs, and whales.

By Land

If your sea legs are out of practice, you can see pods of whales while hiking or walking along seaside trails, rugged cliffs, and sandy beaches. Look out from a cliffside peak and see the tails of humpbacks splashing in the sea. Or picnic alongside the ocean to get a fine view of whales and porpoises swimming nearby – no binoculars needed.

Whales can be seen in all bays along the coastline. Some spectacular viewing sites by land are Signal Hill, Cape Spear, Trinity, Cape Bonavista, Twillingate, White Bay, Strait of Belle Isle, St. Vincent's, Cape St. Mary's, Cape Race, Witless Bay, and St. Anthony.

Hot Spots

Location data provided by the operator. Please confirm location before departure.

Whale Species

Humpback

The world's largest population of feeding humpback whales is found here. Migrating from the Caribbean, they spend from April to October in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. They are often seen "breaching" or jumping out of the water and crashing into the waves.

Minke

Common in the bays of Newfoundland and Labrador, this is the smallest baleen whale. Unlike other whales, the minke's tail does not show when it dives to feed on capelin, mackerel or herring, and it will spend very little time on the surface before swimming deep under water for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You'll see these whales in summer and early fall.

Pothead (Pilot)

Named for its thick pot-shaped head, these small toothed whales often travel in large groups of up to 100. They love to feed on squid and fish during summer and early fall.

Fin

This large baleen is the second largest of the whales. They travel further offshore than the humpbacks and minkes. And they can travel in packs of up to eight.

Sperm

The largest of the toothed whales, the sperm, has a wrinkled body that is dark brown or grey in colour. A blowhole in the shape of the letter "S" sits on the left side of its head, producing a bushy spout that extends beyond its front.

Blue

The blue whale is the largest mammal that has ever lived on earth – a whopping 21 to 28 metres long. This baleen whale is most abundant on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, especially during the winter months.

Orca (Killer Whale)

This well-known toothed whale can be seen off of Newfoundland and Labrador in the summer months. Look out for a stout, glossy, black and white body – and a big set of teeth.

White-beaked Dolphin

These dolphins have a dark grey body, a short white nose, white patches in front of and behind its dorsal fin, and light grey and white patches across its back.

White-sided Dolphin

These "squid jumpers" or "jumpers", as they are locally known, have black or dark grey backs, a light grey patch running their backs, and white bellies. Behind and below their dorsal fins are two yellow- or beige-coloured ovals.

Harbour Porpoise

This small porpoise is dark grey in colour with a white speckled underside. They travel in groups up to five and are known locally as "puffin pigs" for the grunting sound they make when they blow.
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