Where to Go Whale Watching in Canada

Whale watching boats in Vancouver Harbor
Susan Breslow Sardone

With all that coastline, there are plenty of places to go whale watching in Canada. The main whale watching destinations are in British Columbia on the west coast and in Newfoundland, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia on the east coast.

Choose excursions that use smaller, faster Zodiac boats, travel in comfort with larger cruise boats, get adventurous by kayaking, or get right up and personal by snorkeling with the whales. Often several tour companies will operate out of the same harbor so it can be difficult to know with which one to book.

No matter what type of excursion you decide upon, take care to choose an operator that ensures safety for its passengers and treats wildlife with care and respect, meaning minimal intrusion. Ask questions about any safety standards that may apply or if the operator has status with a wildlife organization. 

  • 01 of 05
    Killer whale spy hopping off the coast of Tofino
    Cavan Images / The Image Bank / Getty Images

    The coast of British Columbia has one of the highest populations of Orcas (killer whales) in the world. You can also see gray whales, minkes, and humpbacks.

    Whale Watching Season: The best time to see whales in B.C. is between the beginning of April through October; however, gray whales begin to appear in March as they migrate from the Bering Sea to the waters of California's Baja Penisula

    Where to Go Whale Watching in B.C.: The most whale watching tour operators are on Vancouver Island. The closest whale watching to the city of Vancouver is in Steveston, about a half hour away.

  • 02 of 05
    A sightseeing group near a whale off the coast of Quebec
    Scott McLean

    Belugas, minkes, humpbacks can be seen in Quebec. Lucky whale watchers may even see - at up to 25m (82ft) in length—the largest known mammal, the blue whale or the second largest whale, the fin whale

    Whale Watching Season: May through October

    Where to Go Whale Watching in Quebec: Many ports along the St. Lawrence. Croisieres AML offers whale watching about 2.5 hours from Quebec City in Tadoussac and Baie-Sainte-Catherine or nearby on the southern shore in Rivière-du-Loup and Trois-Pistoles. More adventurous travelers can go north to Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada or Forillon National Park of Canada, in the Gaspésie.

  • 03 of 05
    A snorkeler approaches a whale off the coast of Newfoundland
    Ali Lindley / Ocean Quest Adventures

    Newfoundland offers the chance to see one of the most extensive varieties of whales in the world: belugas, minkes, pilots, humpbacks, sperm and the more elusive but sometimes spotted blue or fin whales

    Whale Watching Season: May through September.

    Visitors in June/July may be lucky enough to see icebergs and whales in the same trip.

    Where to Go Whale Watching in Newfoundland & Labrador: Ocean Quest Adventures near St. John's offers a range of tours and accommodation. Compare whale watching tours in Newfoundland & Labrador with Viator.

  • 04 of 05
    A pod of whales swims past a lighthouse in Nova Scotia
    Scott McLean

    Finbacks, minkes, and humpbacks can be seen when visiting Nova Scotia.

    Whale Watching Season: May through October. Finbacks and minkes arrive in May and humpbacks in June.

    Where to Go Whale Watching in Nova Scotia: Most whale watching outfitters in Nova Scotia are along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. Love Boat Whale Cruises offer whale watching out of Cheticamp.

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  • 05 of 05
    A Humpback whale dives after surfacing near New Brunswick
    Barrett & MacKay / Getty Images

    In New Brunswick, you have the chance to see Finbacks, minkes, humpbacks, Sei whale and the occasional North Atlantic Right Whale.

    Whale Watching Season: May through October.

    Where to Go Whale Watching in New Brunswick: Campobello Island, St. Andrews, and Grand Manan Island are three of the most popular spots to whale watch.