How to Experience Whales in Newfoundland and LabradorBy Newfoundland & Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the most spectacular whale watching places on Earth. The world’s largest population of humpback whales return each year to feed on capelin, krill, and squid along the coast. Another 21 species of whales and dolphins visit along with them including the minke, sperm, pothead, and blue whales. If you’re lucky, you may even see an orca.
Between May and September, you can see them feed, frolic, and even breach near our shores. Catching a single glimpse of these majestic mammals is sure to be on your bucket list, and lucky for you there are many ways you can achieve this unforgettable experience.
What better way to see a whale than to meet one in their natural habitat?
Countless boat tour operators across the province allow you to do just that, and they have a knack for finding them. It's not uncommon for a whale or porpoise to investigate a visiting boat, leaping and twirling out of the water to the ongoing cheers of encouragement. They have quite the flair for the dramatics – stage fright usually isn’t in their dictionary.
If an intimate meet-and-greet is more your style, try paddling by kayak. Operators will outfit you in specialized sea kayaks as you traverse sheltered coves and bays where you might just paddle alongside one of these gentle giants. You can truly get a different perspective as you watch them crest the ocean’s surface, seemingly from out of nowhere, and calmly swim along as you paddle like you are part of the pod. Along the way you’ll explore hidden sea caves and beaches and, depending on the time of year, you may even see an iceberg!
With over 29,000 km of coastline, you don’t necessarily need to venture out onto the water to spot a whale. Go for a hike along one of the many coastal walking trails, sit by the shore and have a picnic.
You can also check out one of the driving routes on the road trips section of our website. If you are a passenger, plan to keep your eyes peeled to the water to catch sight of one of these friendly giants popping up to say hello. Take the Irish Loop and stop at St. Vincent’s Beach where, thanks to the steep drop off along the shoreline, you can watch the feeding frenzy during certain months. These magnificent animals seem to come within meters of land. They’re so close to shore you can actually catch the scent of their distinctive breath.
If you’d prefer to see whales out of the water, then try visiting one of the many exhibits around the province. Start with the new Memorial University Core Science Facility and look up in the atrium to see a sight you won’t soon forget – a 25 meter long, 6,500-pound skeleton of a blue whale, the largest animal to have ever lived. Washing up on the shores of Rocky Harbour in 2014, Memorial University worked with the Royal Ontario Museum to clean and preserve this breathtaking skeleton for display.
Nearby at The Rooms, Newfoundland & Labrador’s largest public cultural space, you’ll find a smaller but equally impressive skeleton of a pothead whale on display. While there, explore the many collections, exhibits, and programs that tell stories of the province and the natural world through art, artifacts, archaeology, architecture, and archival records.
In Central, you can take a tour at the Triton Sperm Whale Pavilion to learn about the great Sperm Whale, and discover how the 13-meter skeleton made its way to this world class exhibit.
Don’t forget the West coast of the island. At the Southwest arm of Green Bay you’ll find the King’s Point Whale Pavilion, home to the world’s largest reconstruction of a humpback whale – measuring 50-feet long!
To experience whales for yourself, check out the tour operators and special offers available here. Be sure to share your adventures with us on Instagram @newfoundlandlabrador and use #ExploreNL.
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