From the remote northernmost town of Utqiagvik, to the lush coastline of the Inside Passage, and even near downtown Anchorage — Alaska’s whale watching opportunities are the crowning jewel of many visitors’ trips to Alaska. There’s nothing quite like viewing these magnificent mammals spouting, fluking, and breaching in their natural habitat, against a stunning backdrop of Alaska mountains or coastline. In the spring, thousands of whales, including humpback whales and gray whales, travel from the warm waters of Hawaii or Mexico to spend the summer feeding in the nutrient-rich waters of Alaska. Other species like orcas make their home in Alaska waters year-round.
The best way to view whales in Alaska is out on the water. A wide variety of whale watching cruises are available, primarily in the Southcentral and Inside Passage regions, though whales can be seen in Southwest and Arctic waters, as well. Whale watching cruises range from deluxe half-day or full-day tours on large, comfortable commercial boats to longer, customized trips on small charters. Tours typically begin in the spring, from March–May, and run through September or October, weather permitting. Whale watching is also excellent aboard multi-day cruises to Alaska and trips on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry.
You don’t have to cruise to view Alaska’s whales. Kayaking trips are also a great way to get up close views of whales, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled when you’re nearby any Alaska coastline. Whale species like beluga whales, humpbacks, and orcas can be seen right from shore in many coastal communities.
Whether they are leaping from the water, slapping their tails on the surface of the sea, or vocalizing with family members in their pod, witnessing a whale in Alaska is an experience that will never be forgotten.
Learn more about glacier & wildlife cruises in Alaska.
Plan Your Trip
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Alaska: AKA Your Next Adventure
Where will your Alaska adventure take you? Order our Official State of Alaska Vacation Planner and plot your course.