1. Decide Where You Want to Go Whale Watching.
Perhaps you have already made this decision, but there are a number of locations to go whale watching. Just in the U.S., there are hundreds of companies along the East and West Coast. If you're visiting New England, for example, you can whale watch in Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts, and depending on the season, the sightings may vary from location to location. Plan your trip so that you don't have to drive too far to your whale watching location, and keep in mind that each area typically has a fairly short season for whale watching.
2. Do You Want to See a Particular Species?
Do you have a particular species in mind? Whales are migratory animals and are not always in the same location throughout the year. For example, you can see gray whales in Baja California, but only in the winter when they go there to mate and calve. Humpback whales can be found in New England, but they may be more plentiful in some areas than others. Maybe you just want to see whales, and then you can go anywhere whale watching tours are offered! But if you have your heart set on seeing a particular species, you're most likely to have a successful experience if you research the locations beforehand.
3. Find Some Companies and Compare.
Your next step is to start researching whale watch companies. Some locations have several whale watch companies departing from the same harbor. This is often a good thing, as competition makes for a better visitor experience. Over the years, there have been a few books published on whale watch companies, but you're now likely to find the most updated information on the internet. Search for "whale watching (location)" and you're likely to come up with a list of companies. Whale watches can be several hours long, and are not usually a cheap excursion, especially for a family, so you'll want to get the most of your experience.
- What amenities are on board?
- Does the company have a naturalist?
- Is the company affiliated with a research or non-profit organization?
- How long is the trip?
- What is the cancellation/refund policy?
- Is the company ecologically responsible?