Best Places to See Blue Whales

Blue whales are the largest animals to live on our planet.

Capable of reaching lengths over 100 feet and having hearts the size of small cars, they are one of the most breathtaking creatures to encounter out in the wild. However they are quite rare and not the easiest to spot.

Blue whales were hunted close to extinction during the whaling days. Their populations are starting to rebound in some places around the world. As a marine mammal naturalist, I’ve been lucky enough to have many blue whale encounters. California in particular seems to be a blue whale hot spot!

Southern California

As a southern California native, this is where my first and the majority of my blue whale encounters have happened. During the warmer months of May-September, blue whales gather in the area between Santa Barbara and San Diego to feed. A variety of whale watch tours are available along the coast from large cruise-style boats to smaller high-speed zodiacs. Along the way it’s also possible to spot the second largest whale- the fin whale- dolphins, sea lions and seals.

huge blue whale fluke seen off the coast of dana point california

Monterey Bay

During peak season it’s nearly guaranteed to see a whale in Monterey, as huge numbers of humpback whales gather to feed in the bay. Blue whales also gather here when krill is abundant- typically July to late September. A few years ago, the BBC and PBS collaboration Big Blue Live put the spotlight on Monterey Bay as a prime place to spot several whale species, particularly blue whales.

beautiful blue whale surfacing with a mighty blow

There are several other blue whale hot spots around the world that I have yet to visit myself. Being the whale nerd I am, I have put together a “bucket list” of blue whale watching spots:

  • Reykjavík, Iceland (May-August)

  • Pico Island, Azores (February-March)

  • Baja California Sur, Mexico (January-March)

  • Mirissa, Sri Lanka (Year round)

Have you ever seen a blue whale before? Share your experience below!

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