Over the next two days, whale watching boat trips have been arranged with a local specialist operator. Typically, the trips are scheduled to last two hours, departing from St. John's. The remainder of each day is then free to enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery, using your hire car.
You can see whales off the coast of Newfoundland and New Brunswick all year round, but sightings are most common during the period from mid-June through to mid-August. Just before them (i.e. May through to mid-June) and immediately after (i.e. mid-August through to late September), sightings are still possible, but less consistent.
Humpback whales are easily recognised by their balloon-shaped blow and the way they lift their tails in the air as they dive. Their long, white side flippers can measure as much as one-third of their body length.
Fin whales have a straight high blow the shape of an ice-cream cone. The next thing you catch sight of is the streamlined black back emerging before its long curved dorsal fin appears above the surface. Its underside is white and its side flippers are small and pointed.
Solitary minke whales, the smallest baleen whale, are a common sight in the bays off the coast. Their blow is low and often barely noticeable. Minkes are black on top with a tall, hooked dorsal fin and small side flippers with a white patch. Their bellies are pure white.
The distinguishing feature of the orca, or killer whale, is its pointed fin - which in males can be up to two metres long. Behind the eye you will see a white spot that stands out against the glossy black body. They have been observed eating humpbacks on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
Harbour porpoises are the smallest of the whale family, called 'puffin pigs' in Newfoundland because of the grunt they make while breathing. The rounded head has no beak, the skin is dark grey on the back, and speckled white underneath. Small black flippers are always located on the white portion of the body, and the strong triangular dorsal fin is sited right in the middle of the back.