There is no better way to experience Halifax than from the water. Not only is the scenery beautiful but it gives you a true sense of how the ocean has shaped our way of life. You can get up-close-and-personal with incredible wildlife, including multiple species of whales that frequent our cold North Atlantic waters. Viewing them in their natural habitat is a special experience you will not forget once you return home. So, how can you make sure you see whales on your trip to Halifax? Here are a few tips:
Where are the best places to see whales in Nova Scotia?
Although you can view whales in many areas of the province, depending on the time of year, these are the areas you are most likely to see them: 1. Bay of Fundy/Annapolis area, which encompasses Brier Island, Digby, and Tiverton (large groups of whales congregate in the Bay of Fundy in spring/summer to feed and breed). 2. Cape Breton Island, particularly the north-western section of the island, between Port Hood and Ingonish. That said, if you are unable to make the trip to either the Bay of Fundy, it is still possible to see whales within the Halifax limits, both along the Eastern Shore and South Shore.
What kinds of whales can you see?
Whale species that can commonly be found in Nova Scotia include minke whales, pilot whales, finback or fin whales, and (endangered) North Atlantic Right Whales. If you are lucky, you may even spot a humpback whale, a blue whale or a white-sided dolphin!
What is the best time of year to see whales in Nova Scotia?
Most tours run between May and October (some only until mid-September). Opinions vary as to the best time for viewing within that season, but most recommend July to September when whales are normally most abundant and the weather is most clear. Most whale species have completed their migration by mid-July and remain for several months.
What tour companies can take me to see whales?
HALIFAX & NEARBY:
» A&M Sea Charters (87 Government Wharf Road, Eastern Passage) – 1.5-hour whale watching tours departing from the opposite side of the harbour from the Halifax waterfront; can be combined with Halifax Harbour tours. » Four Winds Sea Charters (148 Nautical Way, Tantallon) – departs from Boutilier’s Point, Head of St. Margaret’s Bay, approximately 40 kms from the Halifax waterfront; 1.5 hour and 3-hour tours offered » Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours (62 Bluenose Drive, Lunenburg) – 3-hour tour departing from Lunenburg, a World Heritage Site (approximately 100 kms from the Halifax waterfront); the South Shore’s longest operating whale watching business.
BAY OF FUNDY:
» Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises (223 Water Street, Westport) – probably the most popular tour in the province; running more than 30 years; focus on conservation and education (e.g. you can adopt a humpback)! » Freeport Whale and Seabird Tours (15 Hwy 217 West, Freeport) – departs from Freeport, Long Island; 3-4-hour tours; includes a visit to the local Grey Seal colony. » Ocean Explorations Whale Cruises (3395 Hwy 217, Tiverton) – operated by a biologist trained in marine wildlife and environmental education; zodiac only (rigid hull inflatable boat). » Petit Passage Whale Watch (3450 East Ferry, Digby) – 3-4-hour cruise in a fibreglass Cape Island style boat.
CAPE BRETON ISLAND:
» Captain Cox’s Whale Watch (Bay St. Lawrence) – 2-hour zodiac tours. » Capt Mark’s Whale & Seal Cruise (126 Harbour Road, Pleasant Bay) – often hosts University researchers. » Eagle Eye Outfitters (15860 Central Ave, Inverness) – 2-hour tours; explores Sea Wolf Island in the Northumberland Strait and the history of its early lighthouse keepers. » Keltic Express Zodiac Adventures (101 Wharf Road, Ingonish) – 2-hour tours, small group (12 people max).