If you’ve never ventured out, hoping for a glimpse of these majestic creatures, you’re missing out. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll see one, it’s still an exciting and unique experience. It’s fun for all ages, and it’s only possible in certain bodies of water. Head to one of these hot spots for your best chance. And make sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a camera to capture the moment for posterity … and bragging rights.

San Juan Islands (Washington)

San Juan orca

Orca whales — also known as Killer Whales — can be found all year-round near the San Juan Islands, along with Gray Whales and Humpbacks. However, the region is also home to seals, eagles, sea lions, and plenty of other wildlife. Tours depart from all three of the islands: Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan, making it easy to plan a trip.

Monterey Bay (California)

Monterey Bay California

Thanks to Monterey Bay‘s pleasant weather, whale-watching is always an option. However, the expeditions are divided into two seasons, depending on what you’re likely to see. April through Mid-December is prime time for Humpback Whales and Blue Whales, while Mid-December through March tours look for Gray Whales. As a bonus, dolphins can be seen at any time of the year, so be on the lookout! 

Stellwagen Bank (Massachusetts)

Cape Cod : Humpback 6

This National Marine Sanctuary, located in Scituate, is a popular destination for many different whale-watching excursions from May through October. The incredible 842 square miles of water are teeming with activity, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a place with more opportunities to view Humpbacks, Finbacks, Right Whales, and more. As it is a sanctuary, you may even see rare and endangered species during your visit.  You can view a full list of companies that offer tours on the Stellwagen Bank website.

Virginia Beach (Virginia)

Virginia Beach Dolphins

Virginia’s probably not the first place you associate with whale-watching. However, tours here run from late December through mid-March, and sightings are very common! Dolphins also make these ocean waters their home, but usually during the warmer months like June through September, much like in Monterey Bay.