Where to Go Whale Watching in Canada

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 along the Pacific Ocean and in Newfoundland, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the east coast, where whales traverse the Saint Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean.​

Choose to whale watch from smaller, faster Zodiac boats, larger cruise boats (better for young children), kayaks, or even 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.

But 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

    Types of Whales: 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
    Whale off the coast of Quebec
    ••• © Scott McLean

    Types of Whales: Belugas, minkes, humpbacks. 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

    Newfoundland & Labrador

    Newfoundland whale
    ••• Photo © Ali Lindley/Ocean Quest Adventures

    Types of Whales: 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.

    Photo of man snorkeling with whale courtesy Ocean Quest Adventures

  • 04 of 05
    ••• © Scott McLean

    Types of Whales: Finbacks, minkes, and humpbacks

    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
    Humpback Whale New Brunswick
    ••• Barrett & MacKay / Getty Images

    Types of Whales: 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.