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14 Best Places to See Orcas in the Wild Across the World

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If, like me, you love watching orcas on nature documentaries, you’ve probably often wondered where the best places to see orcas in the wild are.

While many water parks house killer whales, it’s arguably not a healthy or enjoyable environment for them.

Orcas are social animals and swim hundreds of miles every day. Therefore, the best places to see them are via natural sightings, in the world.

So buckle up for a world tour of gigantic proportions, as we visit 14 of the best places in the world to see orcas doing their thing, in the wild.

Best Places to See Orcas in the Wild in the World

Orcas swim across vast oceans. However, to see them from land, there are several specific spots where you’ll have the best chance of spotting them.

Our fourteen places are situated in four different regions. These are:

  • North America
  • South America and Antarctica
  • North Europe
  • Pacific (Asia and Oceania)

We’ll start in North America, and work our way east through the locations, in order of their geography.

Best Places to See Orcas in North America

1 – Resurrection Bay, Alaska, USA

Orca in Resurrection Bay, Alaska, USA

Our first stop takes us to the breathtaking southeastern coast of Alaska. Orcas travel in pods, and many pods swim through the Gulf of Alaska.

Resurrection Bay is an excellent place to see them. This bay is home to an incredible array of birds and marine wildlife. Many boat tours operate in the area too, often leaving from Seward.

Best time to see orcas: May to June, when tours run

2 – British Colombia, Canada

Orca in British Colombia, Canada

The long stretch of coastline from Juneau in Alaska to Vancouver is a very popular place to attempt to spot not only orcas but many species of whale.

This stretch of coastline covers thousands of miles, and it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact location. Seasoned whale watchers recommend bringing binoculars, as it’s much easier to spot these beautiful whales from greater distances.

Best time to see orcas: April to October

3 – Strait of Georgia, Vancouver, Canada

Orcas in Strait of Georgia, Vancouver, Canada

Once the orcas make it down the west coast, they often swim through the Strait of Georgia. This is a long straight, separating Vancouver Island and the mainland.

As the straight is narrow in comparison to the vastness of the ocean, sightings can be more common. Tours operate from Vancouver Island as well.

Best time to see orcas: April to October

4 – San Juan Island, Washington, USA

Orca in San Juan Island, Washington, USA

At the border of Canada and the United States, the Strait of Georgia sweeps west, back into the Pacific Ocean. This makes San Juan Island an ideal spot for sightings.

Located right on the border, a stone’s throw from Victoria, it’s the first point of contact orca pods have in American waters.

Best time to see orcas: April to October

5 – Monterey Bay, California, USA

Orca in Monterey Bay, California, USA

Our final North American stop takes us down the west coast to California. Monterey Bay is a gorgeous bay, with rugged terrain and golden beaches, teeming with wildlife.

Whale pods swim through the bay. You can witness sightings from the shore or take a boat ride out into the bay. Monterey’s world-famous aquarium is definitely worth a visit too.

Best time to see orcas: April to December

Best Places to See Orcas in South America and Antarctica

6 – Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

Orcas in Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

Valdes Peninsula juts out of the east coast of Argentina, in line with the tip of Antarctica. This gorgeous strip of coastline is defined by jaw-dropping cliffs, twisting caves, and lots of wildlife.

One of Patagonia’s many beautiful and rugged coastal areas, you can get there by flying to Trelew or Puerto Madryn from Buenos Aires. From there, it’s a 2-3 hour drive.

Best time to see orcas: Orcas swim through the area all year round. However, in October and November, they come closest to the shore to feed.

7 – Antarctica

Orca in Antarctica

South of Argentina lie the breathtaking icescapes and islands of Antarctica. Whales of all shapes and sizes pass through the Southern Ocean.

There are many cruises and expeditions through the sea and to various areas of Antarctica, with plenty of opportunities to spot orcas.

Best time to see orcas: The summer season runs from November to March. February to March is the best time to spot orcas and other whales.

Best Places to See Orcas in North Europe

8 – Olafsvik, Snaefellsnes, Iceland

Orca in Olafsvik, Snaefellsnes, Iceland

From the icy depths of the south, we next travel thousands of miles north, to the Arctic region. Iceland, situated between Greenland and Europe, sits in prime orca territory.

Snaefellsnes is a peninsula on the west of the country. Olafsvik, one of its towns, is an ideal spot for tours and whale watching out into the bay.

Best time to see orcas: March to June, and less commonly July to August

9 – Grundarfjordur, Snaefellsnes, Iceland

Orca in Grundarfjordur, Snaefellsnes, Iceland

Grundarfjordur is another place renowned for its boat trips and whale watching in Snaefellesnes. It’s around a thirty-minute drive from Olafsvik.

This beautiful little place looks out over the bay. It’s surrounded by luscious landscapes and many awe-inspiring cliffs, waterfalls, and glaciers.

Best time to see orcas: March to June, and less commonly July to August

10 – Andenes, Norway

Orca in Andenes, Norway

If you’re keen to explore some utterly breathtaking geography, in an even more remote location, the village of Andenes in northern Norway is an excellent orca-spotting stop.

Whale safaris run from this beautiful little village. Some of them even allow you to snorkel with orcas!

Best time to see orcas: December to January

11 – Tromso, Norway

Orca in Tromso, Norway

500km north of Andenes lies Tromso, another very popular orca-spotting sight. Tromso is far more accessible to tourists, as it has an airport.

This scenic, snow-capped city is also a famous viewing point for the Northern Lights.

Best time to see orcas: November to December

Best Places to See Orcas in the Pacific

12 – Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido, Japan

Orca in Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido, Japan

Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost island. It gazes out across the North Pacific and Okhotsk Sea border, and it is home to the beautiful Shiretoko World Heritage site.

Orcas and many other marine life often come close to shore, in search of food. This makes the park an ideal place for orca spotting and whale-watching boat tours.

Best time to see orcas: June to September

13 – Bremer Bay, Western Australia

Orca in Bremer Bay, Western Australia

Bremer Bay is one of the most sought-after spots to site orcas. The area is home to what is believed to be the largest gathering of orcas, every year, in the southern hemisphere.

Around a five-hour drive from Perth, large pods of rare Australian orcas and other whales visit the bay to feed on squid and fish every summer. Plenty of boat tours and activities are bookable in the area.

Best time to see orcas: January to March

14 – Auckland, New Zealand

Orca in Auckland, New Zealand

Our final stop takes us to New Zealand’s magnificent harbor city of Auckland. Auckland is situated near the top of the north island.

Staring out into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, Auckland is an excellent place to take various boat and whale watching tours from.

Best time to see orcas: March to October

Best Places to See Orcas in the Wild Summary

Orcas, or killer whales, are one of the ocean’s most unique, fascinating, and beautiful mammals.

They capture the hearts of millions of us every year, from television shows to real-life sightings in the wild.

Nothing beats seeing such majestic animals in their natural habitat. From the west coast of North America to the ice-capped tip of Norway, a trip to see orcas are more often than not filled with wonder and awe.

Naturally, spotting whales is never guaranteed. Tours will remind you that, while they are aware of the best spots to find them, orcas are still very elusive creatures.

But for that breathtaking moment of seeing these jaw-dropping black and white mammals, in places nature intended them to be, it’s worth taking that chance.

Wherever your orca-watching journey takes you, I wish you the best of luck!

One final time, here is the full list of the 14 best places to see orcas in the wild we explored.

If you’re excited to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat, these places will give you some of the best opportunities to spot them.

  1. Resurrection Bay, Alaska, USA
  2. British Colombia, Canada
  3. Strait of Georgia, Vancouver, Canada
  4. San Juan Island, Washington, USA
  5. Monterey Bay, California, USA
  6. Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
  7. Antarctica
  8. Olafsvik, Snaefellsnes, Iceland
  9. Grundarfjordur, Snaefellsnes, Iceland
  10. Andenes, Norway
  11. Tromso, Norway
  12. Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido, Japan
  13. Bremer Bay, Western Australia
  14. Auckland, New Zealand

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14 best places to see orcas in the wild - Nomad Paradise

Author: Dale Johnson is a content writer, designer, and strategist. He has been a full-time digital nomad since 2016, and have traveled to 29 countries and counting.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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