Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to view the whales?

That depends on which whale species and your viewing location. The best time of year to view Orca whales is in May through September. If you're looking for Humpback whales then we suggest September through January. The Gray whale is a bit more fussy and will visit on occasion throughout the year. Certain types of Orca whales are also viewable in the Winter since the seals are most abundant.

  • Seasons

  • Seattle, Pacific Northwest: May - September
  • California: January - May
  • Newfoundland & Labrador: May - September
  • Hawaii: December - Mid May

How often do you see whales?

That depends on the experience of the company and the current whale activity. However, most operators are in contact with other vessels or whale spotters and in general we hear that whales are typically seen on over 80% of the tours.

Is it considered dangerous to be close to the whales?

Yes, it's dangerous and disruptive to be too close to the whales. Guidelines from the Whale Watching Coalition of Washington include:

  • Be cautious and courteous – approach areas of known or suspected marine mammal activity with extreme caution. Look in all directions before planning your approach or departure.
  • Reduce speed to less than seven knots when within 400 meters of the nearest whale. Avoid abrupt course changes.
  • Avoid approaching closer than 200 meters to any whale.
  • Keep clear of the whales’ path and avoid positioning within the 400 meter area in the path of the whales.
  • Stay on the offshore side of the whales when they are traveling close to shore. Remain at least 200 meters offshore at all times.
  • Do not swim with or feed whales.

Keep in mind that guidelines may vary depending on where you are whale watching.

What should I bring whale watching?

Check with the operator regarding what is available on board their vessel, but plan to have available:

  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses (preferably ones that handle water reflection well)
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Warm clothes that you can take off in layers as weather changes
  • Water
  • Medicine in case of motion sickness