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When and where to see whales in Alaska

Whether you are taking a whale watching boat tour or hoping to catch sight of a whale from a viewpoint on shore, there are plenty of whale watching opportunities in Alaska. While some whales can be seen year-round such as Orcas, many migrate north to Alaska from warmer areas during the spring and return in the fall. Over 500 Humpback whales spend their summers feeding in the waters of southeast Alaska. Gray whales migrate from California all the way to the Bering Sea in the far north so are only spotted in southeast and southcentral Alaska during the spring and fall.

Day cruises are an easy and affordable way to see whales as well as a variety of marine and coastal wildlife. You can see seals, puffins, eagles and bears while cruising past glaciers and mountains. If you are taking a whale watching tour, many tour companies have helpful information about which whales can be viewed during different times of the year. Below is a general guide to the best place to see whales depending on the season.

Spring

Beluga whales – Cook Inlet, Shelikof Strait

Gray whales – Ketchikan, Kodiak, Seward

Humpback whales – Prince William Sound, Glacier Bay, Inside Passage, Barren Islands (between Homer and Kodiak)

Orca whales – Resurrection Bay (near Seward), Inside Passage, Prince William Sound

Minke whales – Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound

 

Summer

Beluga whales – Cook Inlet, Shelikof Strait

Blue whales – eastern and northern Gulf of Alaska regions

Humpback whales – Prince William Sound, Glacier Bay, Inside Passage, Barren Islands (between Homer and Kodiak)

Minke whales – Glacier Bay and Prince William Sound

Orca whales – Resurrection Bay near Seward, Inside Passage, Prince William Sound

Sperm whales – Southeast, Gulf of Alaska

 

Fall

Beluga whales – Cook Inlet

Gray whales – Ketchikan, Kodiak or Seward

Orca whales – Resurrection Bay (near Seward), Inside Passage, Prince William Sound

Pick up or request a free copy of RV Alaska to see listings for whale watching tours.

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