A close-up and personal view of a Humpback Whale in full breach will take your breath away!
The sheer majesty of a 52 foot, 50 ton creature leaping clear out of the ocean is something that simply cannot be described in words.
But I can tell you how it makes you feel.
Goose-bumps rise all over your body, your heart pounds with the excitement, your eyes widen in awe and amazement, you feel humble and small - yet privileged that, like this whale, you are a part of something remarkable and important. You are a living creature on this wonderful planet - and being alive is a joy!
You will return to your home and your job and your everyday life, inspired and renewed by what you have seen. And the memory of it will stay with you forever.
The humpback whale is a magnificent and fascinating creature.
It uses complex, cooperative feeding techniques.
It sings the most amazing, beautiful and haunting songs.
And it is one of the great acrobatic entertainers of the ocean, often leaping (breaching) clear out of the water.
I know that Dolphins leap clear of the water too - but dolphins are not 52 feel long, and they don't weigh 50 tons!
The sight and sound of a humpback in full breach is incredible! Everybody should see it at least once in their lifetime.
And these days its not difficult to arrange.
Humpbacks are creatures of habit - they are fairly easy to find. You can see them in several places around the world -and at all times of the year.
The best places I know of are listed below. If you know any other great spots - send me an email!
Huge numbers of Humpbacks live in Alaska. The majority of them migrate south for part of the year - to Hawaii, California, Mexico etc. But a substantial minority stay in Alaska all year round. Alaska has several fabulous humpback watching cruises on offer.
Each year from late July through to early November, humpback whales arrive in Hervey Bay - 300km north of Brisbane. There is no better place to enjoy their acrobatic antics than from a whale-watching cruise in these warm, clear, protected waters.
From late April to early December, large numbers of Humpbacks spend the summer feeding off the coast of California. They can be seen from the shore, from the highway, from lodges and hotels around Monterey Bay. This generation of whales has never been hunted by man here (since whaling ended in these waters) so they have no fear of us. Some of them are very curious about boats, and will spend hours mooching around and even gently brushing against boats in the area. This provides amazing opportunities for people to get very close indeed to these majestic mammals. Best idea - book a boat trip with a knowledgeable local whale-watching skipper. And take plenty of film for your camera!
Around 4,000 to 5,000 humpback whales - two-thirds of the North Pacific population spend the winter in Hawaii. They migrate from Alaska, a 3,000 mile swim! They can be seen from most of the islands in Hawaii - both from the shore and from the numerous boat trips available.
Great tip! Join the Hawaii Humpback Whale volunteer program.
Every year in Hawaii, volunteers gather to count the humpback whales for a scientific project to help preserve this endangered species. Anyone can volunteer, the atmosphere is friendly and great fun, and there is a real buzz in the air as the count gets underway. Volunteers get to see the whales - they provide a vital service, and they have a fabulous time too!
Iceland is the fastest growing whale-watching location in the world. It is a stunning and logical place to watch some of the best Humpback Whale antics on the planet - But I personally recommend you Don't go there! Why? Because Iceland has just renewed its policy of killing whales for profit. I cannot recommend a location where such a policy exists. I have started a petition on my website, objecting to Iceland's official whaling policy. I would love to visit Iceland - But not until the Killing Ends!
The West Cork area of Ireland is gaining popularity as a place for spotting Humpback and Minke whales. Humpbacks are not as common here as in some of the other destinations on this list - but if you happen to be in Ireland at the right time, take a boat trip in West Cork - there's a good chance of seeing some action!
The coast of Maine sees its share of Humpbacks from May through October.
The Bar Harbour area has some good vantage points onshore, and some very well organised boat trips to get you close to the action.
The World Wildlife Foundation reckons Gloucester MA is one of the top five places in the world for whale watching.
Gloucester is on the southern shore of the rocky Cape Ann Peninsula - which is close to two important summer feeding areas for the whales. No other New England port has closer access to so many humpback whales.
Whale watching is popular now all over the world - but in Gloucester Massachusetts it has been popular for decades. Knowledgeable local skippers will take you to the action.
I have no personal experience of whale-watching in South Africa - but I hear it's superb! If you have been there and would like to tell me more about it - please send me an email.
In Tonga you can actually swim alongside the Humpbacks!
Visit this wonderful Island Kingdom December through February for the swim of your life!
Forget about all of these Sea-World aquarium places with preforming killer whales! A killer whale splashing around in a swimming pool bears no comparison to the sight of a humpback leaping from the open ocean!