The Sea of Cortez (also known as the The Gulf of California) is a UNESCO World Heritage site that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is thought to be one of the most diverse seas on the planet with the widest variety of whales and dolphins, and nearly 900 species of fish.
Although Mirissa has a beautiful stretch of sandy beach, it is not relaxing on its golden sands that we recommend, for Mirissa is one of the foremost places in the world to see blue and sperm whales. Between December and April, when the sea is relatively calm, they arrive off the coast to feed in the rich waters.
Destination: Sri Lanka
San Ignacio Lagoon is located in the Mexican province of Baja California and is one of the winter sanctuaries of the eastern Pacific grey whale. Here, males and females congregate looking for mates and newborn calves prepare themselves for the long journey north to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic.
Each year large numbers of whale, dolphins and porpoises migrate to the waters around the Newfoundland coast – about 15 species are normally present, seasonally or year round. St. Mary’s Bay is well-known for whale watching, and is easy to reach on a self-drive tour from the capital, St John’s.
Surrounded by the majestic snow-covered mountains of the Coast Range, the abundant krill and herring of this body of glacial fed waters make Frederick Sound one of the premier places to observe feeding humpback whales who migrate here from Hawaii to feed on its super nutrient rich waters.
The small town of Tofino lies on the west coast of Vancouver Island, at the southern edge of Clayoquot Sound. It is a popular destination for anyone wanting to enjoy whale watching, particularly in March when the migration of thousands of grey whales is celebrated at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival.
This small town on the Saint Lawrence, beside its confluence with the Saguenay River, was once a major fur trapping centre. It lies inside Canada’s first marine national park, where the rich environment attracts numerous whales – including belugas – and is home to CIMM (the Centre of Marine Mammal Interpretation).
Ten hours drive east of Quebec City, the Mingan Archipelago is a fantastic location for whale enthusiasts. Its estuary, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, with its huge shoals of plankton and fish, attracts congregations of the elusive blue, minke, fin, and humpback whales, as well as the endangered beluga whale.
The remote eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the white continent's hidden gems. A deeply incised, 2,000-kilometre wide bay, the upwelling of cold water provides food for any creature hardy enough to withstand the intense cold. It is also famed for its huge ice shelves and flat-topped icebergs.
Argentina’s foremost wildlife site is a flat peninsula at the northern end of Patagonia, lined with sandy beaches and rocky shelves. The beaches are home to prodigious numbers of marine wildlife, including the only colony of elephant seals on the South American mainland. Birdwatching is good year round.
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a 90km stretch of coastline comprising a world of diversity and includes the Snaefellsnes National Park at its western most end. Friendly towns and villages, spectacular mountains, a multitude of bird species nesting on treacherous cliffs and superb whale watching opportunities.
This coastal wilderness near Juneau has stunning vistas of glaciers, mountains, islands and deep fjords. Each summer orca, humpback and minke whales feed in the channels, and it is not unusual to see moose and bears swimming across the picturesque bay. You can only reach Glacier Bay by floatplane or boat.
Kalpitiya is well known for sightings of spinner dolphins and due to the deep water channel that runs close to the peninsula, whales are often seen too. Birdwatchers also take note, for it is one of the best places in South Asia to see Persian shearwater, wedge-tailed shearwater, brown noddy and pomarine skua.
Destination: Sri Lanka
Situated between Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s mainland, this area is considered the best place in the world to observe orca who, during the summer months, are present on a daily basis. They can often be viewed close up from the boat, offering some wonderful sightings and photo opportunities.
One of the two largest islands that form the Haida Gwaii, the San Cristobal Mountains form its backbone and rise over 1,200 metres. The higher elevations are dominated by mountain hemlock and alpine tundra, whereas the lower elevations are mainly cedar, pine and western hemlock, becoming densely wooded.
Paradise Harbour is surrounded by heavily glaciated mountains and ice cliffs, which protect and shield this part of the bay and reflect in the ice-cold waters. Its mind-boggling array of icebergs are a highlight, enhancing the wildlife viewing experience which includes whales and abundant birdlife.
Pico Island, named after the impressive volcano of Pico Alto that dominates it, is one of the most beautiful of the Azores archipelago. Over 20 species of cetaceans have been recorded off the island's coast, with whales and dolphins either inhabiting these waters or passing by on their migrations.
Faial Island is part of the central group of the Azores, and offers good walking trails. The views from the caldera – the extinct volcano that created the island – are spectacular. The capital, Horta, is a base for whale watching trips to see species which include sperm and fin whales, plus bottlenose and Risso's dolphins.
This inlet between the Haida Gwaii (a.k.a. Queen Charlotte Islands) and Dall Island, extends from Porcher Island north to Portland Inlet. Up to 24 kilometres wide, it runs from Dundas Island to the Tsimpsean Peninsula, and is home to an abundance of fish, resulting in a high number of grizzlies feeding in summer.
High above the Arctic Circle lies the remarkable archipelago known in Norwegian as Svalbard. Spitsbergen, the main island, means 'jagged peaks' and befits this remarkable land with its spectacular coastline, littered with glaciers flowing into the sea, and high cliffs with endless opportunities for viewing wildlife.
The Silver Bank lies approximately 110 kilometres north of the coast of the Dominican Republic, and almost the same distance southeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands, in the Antilles. In October 1986 the Dominican Republic recognized its vital importance by establishing the Silver Bank Sanctuary.
Destination: Dominican Republic
This untouched wilderness offers unrivalled opportunities to watch and photograph some of North America's most notable wildlife, including massive brown bears, soaring bald eagles and large pods of orcas. Situated 70 kilometres north of Campbell River, Glendale Cove is accessible by floatplane.
Named after the humpback whales that arrive between December and April each year, this park extends along a stretch of beach interspersed with mangroves, and out to sea. The largest reef on Central America’s Pacific Coast forms a crescent necklace, with three small islands known as Las Tres Hermanas.
Destination: Costa Rica
The Antarctic Peninsula is the most accessible part of the great white continent with some of its best wildlife and scenery. Ice-choked waterways, sculpted icebergs, imposing glaciers and rugged mountains provide the backdrop to an area with more whales and dolphins than anywhere else on earth.