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  • Writer's pictureRosie Dietrich

Armchair Explorer - Whale Watching

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Enjoy this week’s slice of travel inspiration... and remember to Dream Now, Travel Later!

We often daydream of lounging on a beach, the hypnotic surf singing a relaxing lullaby, your hand clutching a cold, colorful drink with a tiny umbrella perched at the rim, seagulls dancing in the wind above you and a smiling sun giving your skin a warm hug.


The behemoth surges upwards, higher than its bulk should allow, arcing into the air with its white throat pleats glistening in the sun. As it lands with a roaring splash, a massive, forked tail flips up, hovers momentarily as if waving, and then slides back into the deep waters with a whispered gurgle. Whether your name’s Ishmael or not, watching a whale surface is an unforgettable experience — especially at these four destinations.


While more than 20,000 Gray whales will swing by on the way to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas of Northern Alaska, Humpbacks are the real draw here. You’ll see quite a show when groups team together and form large circles to trap vast shoals of herring, and then propel themselves upwards with mouths wide open.


Nearly 60 percent of the world’s whales can be found here, more than 45 species, including Southern Rights, Minke whales, Blues and Orcas. Unlike Alaska, they come down under to breed and raise their young in the shallow, sheltered waters of the Whitsundays and Hervey Bay, where you can spot the grand creatures from viewing platforms placed along the coastal roads.


Christopher Columbus noticed whales in the DR’s Samaná Bay and Silver Bank areas back in 1493, and visitors have been returning ever since. In the clear, Caribbean waters, you can watch the gentle giants swimming peacefully among the corals, or, if you’re feeling brave, you can snorkel beside the 40-ton Humpbacks and peer into their dark, dinner-plate-sized eyes.


Watching Humpbacks and Southern Rights line up for an endless buffet of krill and sardines on the southern coast is, to some, even more rewarding than seeing African elephants and Cape buffalos on a game drive. You can often spot whales easily at outdoor cafes in the delightful company of a glass of Pinotage from Stellenbosch.


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