The Absolute Best Time for Whale Watching in Newfoundland
Summers are a special time in Newfoundland and Labrador. Migratory icebergs travel south from Greenland and the Arctic Ocean to meet migratory whales traveling north for their summer feeding. NL is one of the best places in the world to see both, and April to August conveniently brings them here at the same time.
Whale Watching Season
May through September is the best time of year for whale watching in Newfoundland. Whale tours typically begin in mid-April and last through mid-September. Some outfitters offer tours beginning as soon as March and extending to the end of October.
The largest annual migration of humpback whales happens here off the coast of Newfoundland. Around mid-April, humpbacks begin returning from their southern migration. They stay through September, feeding on huge amounts of capelin and krill to build up their blubber stores for winter. Humpbacks are a favorite among whale watchers because they constantly leap and jump out of the water. At 40-50 feet long, it’s truly a spectacular sight to see.
Orcas are another popular favorite among whale watchers because they are easy to recognize, even from far away. They can be seen traveling in pods around northern Labrador and down to the southern part of Newfoundland through the summer months. Orcas are curious and social animals that often breach and jump out of the water, much to the delight of onlookers and whale tour groups.
At around 18 feet long, Minke whales are the smallest whales you will see in Newfoundland. They’re here all year but are most commonly seen in the spring, summer, and fall months.
Sperm Whales (Moby Dick) are commonly seen through the summer months and into the fall. They’re about 60 feet long and known for their huge, rectangular, block-shaped heads.
Fin whales are famous for being the second largest whale in the world. They have sleek, slender bodies that reach lengths of well over 60 feet. They don’t jump out of the water the way orcas and humpbacks do, but you can see them gracefully gliding near the surface in the summer months.
Puffins are sharply dressed seabirds that live year-round in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador. Every year from April to August, hundreds of thousands of puffins come ashore to nest. Witless Bay is home to half of the breeding Atlantic puffins in North America, but it’s not the only place to see them. They nest all over the coast, so if you come in the summer, you’re sure to see your fair share of these entertaining birds.
Every spring, massive, awe-inspiring icebergs travel from the Arctic Circle and western Greenland down to Newfoundland and Labrador. When the icebergs come to visit, Newfoundlanders know that spring is in full swing. It’s an exciting time that signals the coming summer.
April through August is the best time to visit Newfoundland to see icebergs. And if you’ve never seen one – there are no words or pictures to explain what you’re missing. Icebergs are as unique as snowflakes but on a larger scale; no two are alike in size, shape, or color. These enormous giants range from bright white to deep blue-green. If you’re already planning to come see the whales, consider adjusting your trip so you can see some migratory icebergs at the same time.
Best Areas for Whale Watching
St. John’s has a plethora of whale-watching tours to choose from. Take a catamaran to Witless Bay to see one of the largest puffin nesting areas in the world. In the summertime, the entire area is teeming with seabirds, whales, and visiting icebergs. Plus as the largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador, there’s no shortage of lodging, dining, and shopping options to enjoy while you’re there.
If you’re the adventurous type, consider booking a kayak tour in Trinity Bay. Kayak tours range from 1/2 day excursions to 2-day long trips that include lodging and a hot breakfast. Whichever you choose, you’ll be right on the water alongside icebergs, dolphins, sea caves, humpbacks, rock formations, and the rugged natural coastline where puffins nest in the spring and summer.
Worth the drive: Twillingate is right in the heart of Iceberg Alley, the path that icebergs travel down from Greenland to Labrador. There are plenty of whale species and other wildlife to see, including seabirds, cormorants, and bald eagles. The remoteness of it all is the perfect opportunity to unplug and recharge in the wild natural waters of the Labrador Sea.
Cost & Pricing
A typical 2-3 hour whale watch boat tour costs around $100 USD for adults. A two-night accommodation package with kayaking and hot breakfast is around $650 per person.
Fly into YYT, St. John’s International Airport. From there, head into town and grab a meal at one of the local restaurants after checking into your hotel. Rent bikes or enjoy a walking tour to see the city.
There’s no better place than Newfoundland to experience the wild natural beauty of the Canadian coastline. The planet’s largest gathering of humpback whales, nesting puffins, and the arrival of the icebergs all make for a truly memorable and spectacular trip. With a variety of tour options and locations, there is something for everyone here regardless of age or ability. Whether you’re coming in for a long weekend or planning to stay for a few weeks, you’ll never run out of things to do and places to explore.