Boat based whale watching

This is the most common form of seeing cetaceans and it has been around for decades. Look below for some important things you need to know before embarking on your voyage!

Find a good company:

This is the trickiest part. Depending on the area there are probably multiple companies. There are three things you need to consider before buying tickets: Cost, success rate, and animal safety. Above all the welfare of the animals should be most important, so make sure you book with someone who follows all of the rules and regulations presented to you by your country. It's also a good idea to look at their success rate and cost, as they are important factors as well. Finally make sure it is accessible for you and the rest of your party.

Make sure it's whale season:

Always prepare to go to the area you want when cetaceans are known to be there. You don't want to book in the dead of winter when all the animals are in tropical waters!

Dress accordingly:

If it's cold, and it will definitely will be on the ocean, make sure to wear a jacket and warm clothes. if it is hot, do the opposite! You want to make sure that you're comfortable on your trip.

Pack food and water:

If the trip is going to be a few hours, and most are, make sure that you bring some food to snack on and water to drink. If you can't bring those things on then the boat will most likely have a snack bar.

Arrive on time:

If the company tells you to be there thirty minutes early, be there thirty minutes early. You don't want to miss the departure, and you don't want to be hours ahead of everyone else with nothing to do!

Listen to the safety instructions:

No, it's not a time to check your latest Facebook update. This is serious stuff and you need to know what to do if there is an emergency on the boat, especially if you have kids!

Once you see the animals, don't:

  • Attempt to interact by jumping in the water or by reaching out to touch. It is most often against the law, and you don't want to get in trouble!
  • Throw things at the animals. They don't want to be bothered by your plastic cup; plus, the last thing our oceans need is more plastic.

Listen to your educated naturalist:

You could learn some fun new facts about cetaceans that you can tell other people, as well as various ways you can work towards conserving them and other species!

Bring a camera:

You don't want to miss these memories, so try to bring a camera or your phone. But do try to remember that it's not the pictures you took, but the memories you made!

Land Based Whale Watching

Becoming a more popular activity for those on vacation, land based whale watching has a lot of benefits to folks who wanna see cetaceans. Below are some facts and things you might need to know before embarking on your journey.

Pick a reliable place:

Do your research online before you go to the coast. There are tons of forms online for people searching for good spots, so make sure you look up and choose somewhere that has a high likelihood of seeing these animals from shore.

Make sure it's accessible:

If you are unable to hike or climb on high rocks, you might want to avoid those types of places. Often there are parks that advertise being able to see cetaceans, so make sure you find out beforehand if it's a trip that you'll be able to do.

Be prepared to wait:

One of the drawbacks of land based whale watching is that you're not in a vessel that can go and find the animals, so be prepared to possibly spend a few hours waiting for something to come by. Remember: these are wild animals! They're not on your schedule. Thankfully, most places have beautiful scenery as well as other flora and fauna to observe, so you don't need to worry too much about being bored!

Bring food and water:

It's often a good idea to have something with you to eat and drink if you plan on sitting for a few hours. Make your favorite sandwiches, or go all out and bring a small grill! This can prove to be fun especially with your family, who doesn't want to have a nice picnic under the sun?

Make sure that the weather is good:

Don't go out when it is storming or when it is simply too hot. We don't want you to get hurt, even if you're trying to see some wildlife! Hold it off till the weather calms down.

If you have kids, bring things to keep them busy:

Let's face it: children, especially the young ones, have a hard time sitting still. Bring a board game with you, or let them have a handheld video game to play on when waiting.

When you see the animals, don't:

  • Make an attempt to go and interact with them. In most places it's against the law.
  • Throw anything at them. You remember the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would do unto yourself?", yeah, that applies to animals too. Be a good environmental steward.
  • Follow all the rules that the location you are watching at has. They're made to keep you and the animals safe!

Bring a camera:

You don't want to miss these great moments! Bring your camera or phone to record and take pictures, but remember to enjoy yourself. Even if you don't get the best photo, the memories will stay with you forever.

Clean up after yourself:

After all is said and done, remember to pick up trash and clean up the area around you. Make the area a good place to come back to, and a healthy location for animals to live!

Photo credits: Elizabeth Zwamborn, Ernie Westle, SA Places,AGFG, The Roundhouse, Hans Bernhard, and African Eagle Day Tours.

Have you ever been at a beach and thought, "Will I see any whales here?" Well, then this page is for you! Look below for tips and tricks for watching cetaceans on land and sea!