PRIVATE & SMALL GROUP TOURS TO THE WORLD'S BEST DESTINATIONS
Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Where Can You See Whales In Alaska?
If you’re going to take a trip to Alaska to see native wildlife, don’t forget to schedule a whale-watching trip! Alaska is surrounded on three sides by water, from the waters of the North Pacific Ocean along the Inside Passage and Gulf of Alaska, around the Aleutian Islands to the Bering Sea, and up to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic Ocean. Alaska’s waters are the perfect place to spot a variety of whales throughout the year, making Alaska whale watching one of the most popular pastimes with tourists!
More than a dozen species of whales can be seen in Alaska’s vast range of coastal and marine ecosystems. Every spring, thousands of humpback whales and gray whales travel from the tropical waters of Hawaii and Mexico to spend their summer feeding in Alaska’s nutrient-dense waters. Other species of whales, like orca whales, can be found in Alaska’s waters year-round! But no matter what type of whales you want to see, whale watching in Alaska is an experience you won’t forget.
When Is The Best Month To See Whales In Alaska?
The best time of year to see whales in Alaska is during the months of June and July. During this time of year, humpback and killer whales are very active, and the weather is the nicest it will be all year long! If you are planning on taking a cruise or watching whales from a boat, you know that simply being on the water can make you feel very cold. Whale watching in Alaska is a lot more enjoyable if you don’t have to wear a lot of layers just to stay warm.
Another good reason to visit for Alaska whale watching during the summer months is the amount of daylight Alaska experiences at this time. By the time the summer solstice arrives in June, most areas of Alaska will see 24 hours of daylight! This gives you more time to take a cruise or boat tour during the day to see whales, and still have plenty of time to go hiking or exploring during the night.
Alaska’s Whales – From Humpback to Beluga And Everything In Between
Alaska’s ocean and coastal regions are home to more than a dozen species of whales – from one of the smallest whale species in the world, the all-white Beluga whale, to the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale. Here is a list of what type of whales can be seen in Alaska, and where you can find them.
- Humpback whales – These majestic sea creatures begin arriving in Alaska waters from Hawaii in the spring and head south to warmer waters in the fall. The best time to view humpback whales in Alaska is May through September, when they are busy feeding on plankton and krill in the nutrient-rich waters outside of Juneau, Sitka, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Prince William Sound, and around the Kodiak, Barren, and Aleutian Islands.
- Orca whales – Orcas are intelligent and highly social. They are also the largest member of the dolphin family. Orcas, or killer whales, are distinguished by their dorsal fins, which can grow up to six feet tall. These whales travel in pods of up to 40 animals and can be found in the waters outside of Juneau, Kenai Fjords National Park, Prince William Sound, Kachemak Bay State Park, and Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands.
- Gray Whales – These creatures are among the first migrating whales to reach Alaska each spring. The best place to see gray whales in Alaska is along their migration route, before and after they reach their Northern feeding grounds. You may see gray whales heading north along the Inside Passage and Southcentral waters from mid-March to April, with the best viewing opportunities in Sitka, Seward, and Kodiak.
While the most common types of whales to see in Alaska are humpback whales, gray whales, killer whales, and beluga whales, visitors interested in Alaska whale watching can also see blue whales, minke whales, bowhead whales, bottlenose whales, fin whales, and sperm whales.
The Best Places in Alaska for Whale Watching
From the coastal communities of the Southcentral and Inside Passage regions to Kodiak in the Southwest region, Alaska whale watching is one of the best experiences in the whole state! Here are the best places to see whales in Alaska during your trip to the Last Frontier:
- The Inside Passage - Juneau is the best place to view whales in Alaska’s Inside Passage region. Humpback whales can be seen in the waters outside of Juneau from April through November, with peak viewing time from June through September. During peak season, there are so many humpbacks in the area that you can be guaranteed a whale sighting. Orcas are also commonly seen in the Juneau area. Other top whale-watching destinations in the Inside Passage include Sitka, Ketchikan, Hoonah/Icy Strait, Gustavus/Glacier Bay, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Skagway.
- Southcentral Alaska – Seward is the top destination for whale watching in Southcentral Alaska. Visitors can take day cruises from the city to explore the beautiful, rugged coastline of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. Humpbacks can be seen in the area from April through October with peak viewing time from May through August. Orcas are also commonly seen any time of year, with peak viewing time from May through June. Gray whales can be seen during their spring migration from March through May. Other popular whale-watching destinations in Southcentral Alaska are Whittier, Homer, and Valdez.
- Southwest Alaska – Kodiak is the launching point for many whale-watching tours in Southwest Alaska. A variety of whale-watching trips are available from Kodiak, from private charters to multi-day boat trips that focus on bear viewing and whale watching. Gray whales can be seen along their migration route in April. Humpbacks are in the area from June through October, and orcas can be seen at any time. Another popular place to see whales in Southwest Alaska is Unalaska, in the Aleutian Islands.
Alaska is a great place to go whale watching because whale-watching trips are so accessible! One of the best things about whale watching in Alaska is just how many other animals you will see on your whale-watching trip! Most visitors report that they saw sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, puffins, bald eagles, and a variety of shorebirds, too! No matter where you decide to go whale watching, be prepared to be awed by the beauty of Alaska’s impressive coastline.