Whales are some of the world’s most spectacular species. Just the mere sight of them in their natural habitat is often an enriching and even an emotional experience.
If whale-watching has always been on your bucket list, Africa is home to some of the best destinations on Earth where you can get your fill of whale wonders.
1. Boa Vista, Cape Verde
Island cruises in Boa Vista between March and May give visitors a chance to watch humpback whales swimming in the waters. These humpbacks in Cape Verde spend their feeding season in Iceland’s cold waters, making them different from the humpbacks of the southern hemisphere.
2. Hermanus, South Africa
Often ranked as one of the top whale-watching destinations not only in Africa but in the world as a whole, Hermanus is popular for its amazing quality of land-based whale watching. The town itself overlooks Walker Bay, the seasonal southern right whale’s breeding ground.
3. Île Sainte-Marie, Madagascar
The channel between mainland Madagascar and the small island of Île Sainte-Marie, also called Nosy Boraha, becomes a hotspot for whale watching during winters in the southern hemisphere. This is when large populations of humpback whales move to the north from their feeding grounds in Antarctica’s frigid waters to their calving and breeding grounds in the tropical Indian Ocean.
4. Port St. Johns, South Africa
Port St. Johns serves as the launch site for the annual Sardine Run of the country between June and July. This sudden bounty of food lures numerous marine predators. Those following the sardines will surely get a glimpse of Bryde’s whales, humpback whales, and also the rare pod of the killer whale.
5. Tangier, Morocco
The Straits of Gibraltar separates Tangier from Spain and offers a habitat for different cetacean species. Although there is no infrastructure for whale watching in Tangier yet, it only takes a 35-minute ferry ride to reach Tarifa. The FIRMM or Foundation for Information and Research on Marine Mammals offers frequent trips for whale watching from there. Depending on the specific time of the year, you can see various species such as pilot whales and fin whales. FIRMM also offers trips to watch killer whales in July and August near the Tangier coast.
6. Walvis Bay, Namibia
Walvis Bay may be more popular for its excellent birdlife, but this is also the perfect spot to see some whales up close and personal. Harbor cruises around the bay give visitors the chance to enjoy a stylish whale-watching experience with fresh oysters and champagne served en route. Southern right and humpback whales are visible in the bay from July to October.
7. Watamu, Kenya
The Marine National Park of the small coastal town of Watamu offers a haven for a variety of marine life such as no less than 10 recorded dolphin and whale species. While transient species such as killer whales, Bryde’s whales, and sperm whales can be seen in the reserve, the sightings of humpback during winter are what make Watamu popular.
Which of these African whale-watching destinations do you want to visit first?