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Best Whale Watching in Newfoundland (2024)

Newfoundland whale watching is a majestic way to discover once-in-a-lifetime wildlife on Canada’s east coast.

Its rich marine ecosystems and accessible coastline make it an ideal spot for encountering a variety of whale species.

Here’s your comprehensive guide to the best whale watching tours in Newfoundland.

Why Whale Watching in Newfoundland?

Whale watching in Newfoundland stands out due to the province’s unique geographical location along key migratory routes of various whale species.

This is a departure from Vancouver whale watching, as you’re essentially swapping out orcas for the mighty humpback.

Like BC though, the rich feeding grounds in the waters here make it an ideal habitat for whales, leading to frequent sightings.

Newfoundland’s commitment to sustainable whale watching practices enhances the experience, allowing for intimate yet respectful encounters with these majestic creatures.

newfoundland coast map with whale watching spots
Newfoundland: Coast for days!

The diverse marine ecosystem, combined with the stunning coastal scenery, makes Newfoundland whale watching not just a wildlife experience, but also an immersive nature adventure.

The most commonly sighted species include the playful humpback whales, known for their spectacular breaches and tail slapping. Minke whales, the smallest of the baleen whales, are also frequently observed due to their curiosity and proximity to the shore.

The rare and majestic North Atlantic right whales can also be spotted, particularly as they are known to frequent the Bay of Fundy.

Best Time to Go Whale Watching in Newfoundland

The best time for whale watching in Newfoundland is from May to October, with the peak season typically in July and August.

These months coincide with the migration patterns of whales as they travel to the nutrient-rich waters of the North Atlantic for feeding.

During this period, the chances of spotting whales are significantly higher, with calm seas and warmer weather contributing to a more pleasant viewing experience.

Early summer months may offer sightings of mothers with calves, while late summer and early fall are ideal for observing larger groups and a variety of species.

Best Whale Watching Tours in Newfoundland

tourists getting a closeup view of a humpback whale fin on one of the best whale watching tours in newfoundland

Puffin & Whale Watch Cruise: Best Newfoundland Whale Watching Tour Overall

Departure Point: 90 Northside Rd, Bay Bulls, NL (30 min from St John’s)

The best whale watching tour in Newfoundland is an unforgettable wildlife cruise through the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.

The reserve boasts over 2.5 million seabirds and one of the densest whale populations in the North Atlantic.

Experience the beauty of nature from the comfort of a spacious catamaran, designed with extensive viewing areas.

Be mesmerized by the sight of icebergs and keep an eye out for a diverse array of wildlife including puffins, humpback whales, razor-billed auks, and black-legged kittiwakes.

Enjoy insightful live commentary from the crew and onboard naturalists, who share fascinating details about Newfoundland’s rich heritage as you navigate towards Iceberg Alley.

At ‘just’ $120.00 CAD this is also the cheapest whale watching tour in Newfoundland.

humpback whale breeching with puffin in background off the coast of newfoundland

2 Nights by Zodiac & Kayak: Top Whale Watching Tour in Newfoundland for Adventure

Departure Point: 1 Stoneman’s Lane, Trinity, NL

Embark on a 2-day whale watching adventure in Trinity Bay, where your expert guide will lead you through the bay’s rich waters.

Keep an eye out for bald eagles and cormorants soaring above, and witness the awe-inspiring sight of Minke whales breaching the ocean’s surface.

This tour not only promises close encounters with marine life but also provides uninterrupted views of Canada’s stunning coastline from your boat.

Your journey includes comfortable accommodation, appropriate wet-weather gear, and a delicious hot breakfast to start your day.

Experience the thrill of spotting native wildlife like Minke whales and puffins on this comprehensive 2-day tour, where every detail is taken care of for an unforgettable marine adventure.

humpback whale tail sticking out of the water on a newfoundland whale watching tip

Whale Watching + Shark and Cod Fishing: Best Whale Watching Tour in Saint John’s

Departure Point: 1 Fort Amherst Rd, St. John’s

Embark on Newfoundland’s most extraordinary marine adventure here!

This unique experience allows you to catch and keep your own cod – so don’t forget to bring a cooler for your fresh cod fillets.

Along the way you’ll embrace the thrill of the mighty North Atlantic, where spending a day in pursuit of the legendary cod, a fish that has shaped our Newfoundland’s history for over 500 years.

You’ll also snap pics of humpback whales and maybe even see some million-year-old icebergs floating by.

This is primarily a fishing trip, making it one of the best whale watching tours in Newfoundland for kids.

humpback whale in newfoundland jumping out of the water

Choosing a Newfoundland Whale Watching Tour

Safety is a top priority in Newfoundland whale watching tours, as each one is certified by Transport Canada.

This ensures that the boats are regularly inspected and adhere to strict safety protocols.

When selecting a whale watching tour in Newfoundland, consider the following factors:

  • Tour Length
  • Departure Point
  • Comfort
  • Cost

Let’s delve deeper into these aspects of Newfoundland whale watching tours:

Tour Duration

Typically, there are two main durations for whale watching tours in Newfoundland:

  • Half-day whale watching tours (3 hours)
  • Extended tours (up to two days)

Many prefer the concise half-day tours like the Puffin & Whale Watch Cruise for a comfortable time on the water.

However, for those desiring more time at sea, multiple day tours like the 2 Nights by Zodiac & Kayak offer an extended experience.

red coastal houses in newfoundland

Departure Points in Newfoundland

Newfoundland offers several departure points, including popular spots like St John’s, Trinity, and Bay Bulls.

Your choice will likely depend on your location or travel plans in Newfoundland.

Each area offers its unique charm and proximity to different whale-watching hotspots in Newfoundland.

St John’s is better for dipping your toes into local waters, or even going on a cod fishing + whale watching expedition to boot.

True Newfoundland whale watching enthusiasts though should consider getting out of the city – Bay Bulls and its Puffin & Whale Watch Cruise can’t be beat.

Comfort of the Vessel

Seniors, children, and people prone to seasickness should opt for the spacious catamarans of the Puffin & Whale Watch Cruise.

Adventure seekers might opt for smaller, more agile boats for an up-close experience with the whales – like the zodiacs of the two day Newfoundland whale watching tour.

Newfoundland Whale Watching Weather

Newfoundland’s weather can be unpredictable, so consider the size of the boat when booking. Larger boats offer more stability in varied weather conditions.

Remember, you can often reschedule if the weather looks unfavourable.

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

Cost of Whale Watching Tours in Newfoundland

After deciding on the type of vessel, departure point, and tour length, the price will likely be a significant deciding factor.

Tours vary in cost, so choose one that fits your budget while meeting your other preferences.

Types of Whales in Newfoundland

humpback whale jumping out of the water on the coast of newfoundland

Humpback Whales

Known for their spectacular breaches and playful behavior, humpback whales are a common sight in Newfoundland’s waters.

These whales are easily identifiable by their long pectoral fins and unique tail patterns.

vancouver whale tour banner

Minke Whales

As we mentioned in our post on Victoria whale watching, minke whales, the smallest of the baleen whales, are known for their speed and agility.

They are often curious about boats and can sometimes be seen swimming close to the surface.

North Atlantic Right Whales

These rare and majestic creatures are a special sight. Known for their massive size and distinctive callosities, spotting a North Atlantic right whale is a memorable experience.

coastal newfoundland town with rocky mountains and coloured houses

Whale Watching in Newfoundland FAQ

Got questions about whale watching in Newfoundland?

We’ve got even more answers to help you prepare for your journey.

Can I Touch the Whales?

No, touching or feeding the whales is not allowed. It’s important to respect these creatures and observe them from a safe distance.

How Close Will We Get to the Whales?

Most tours adhere to regulations that dictate a safe and respectful distance from the whales. The exact distance can vary, but the goal is always to observe without disturbing the animals.

Is Whale Watching in Newfoundland Suitable for Children?

Yes, whale watching can be a fantastic experience for children. However, consider the length of the tour and the size of the boat for their comfort and safety.

What If We Don’t See Any Whales?

While sightings are highly likely, they can’t be guaranteed. Most tour operators are experienced in locating whales, but sometimes nature is unpredictable.

large rocky peninsula off the coast of newfoundland canada

Ready for Your Whale Watching Adventure in Newfoundland?

We hope this guide helps you choose the perfect whale watching tour in Newfoundland. For any further questions, feel free to reach out or leave a comment below.

Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey with the majestic whales of Newfoundland!


I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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