Whale watching remains a favorite excursion when vacationing near the water. According to a 2008 special report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, in fact, the industry sees as many as 13 million whale watchers annually who hope to forge a special moment with these gentle giants. With whale season ramping up in many parts of the world, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your own adventure.
Schedule During Peak Months
Few things will put the skids on a whale watching adventure faster than the absence of whales to watch. To increase your chances of getting (the good kind of) mugged, research the area's whale migration patterns before committing to your vacation dates. In Hawaii, for example, humpback whales begin arriving in November and head back out to Alaska in late May. Gray leviathan whales, on the other hand, don't reach the calm waters of Baja California until mid-January, and orcas don't make it to the waters of Oregon and Washington until at least the middle of April.
Splurge On a Boat Tour
Exploring a whale's natural habitat can be an exhilarating experience, and a boat will get you right up close and personal with these colossal creatures. Whales are generally friendly and curious, and there's always a good chance that one will surface within meters of a boat. Don't worry, however, if you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground rather than exercising your sea legs because whales can still be observed from dry land as well. Check with your hotel's front desk or the local Tourist Information Office for a list of the best viewpoints along recognized whale watching routes.
Dress In Layers
Check the weather and marine forecast before going out, but pack for any kind of weather. Showers often pop up out of nowhere, so bring a poncho or rain jacket -- and remember that even with warm weather onshore, it can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler out at sea. Dress in easily-removed layers, wear sturdy rubber-soled shoes, lather on plenty of sunscreen and bring a hat and some sunglasses. If your hair is long enough, wear it tied back -- or bring a hairband with you -- since a boat speeding over waves can create a good bit of wind.
Plan for Motion Sickness
If you're prone to motion sickness -- or if you're not sure how you'll react to a rocking boat -- it may be a good idea to take some motion sickness medicine before boarding. Whale watching tours are typically several hours long, making for a pretty unpleasant excursion when you're stuck retching over the side of the boat the entire time. Take your first dose 30 to 60 minutes before you board the boat -- and remember to make it the non-drowsy kind so you're not asleep when the whales come a-calling.
Bring Your Camera
This one may seem a little redundant, but it's worth a mention. Bring a camera to record the whale-watching experience, and pack an extra set of batteries to keep it snapping all day. Make sure you also have enough space on your memory card -- or plenty of film if you're not a digital convert -- and consider protecting it with a waterproof case or a plastic bag so you don't risk damage by a wayward wave or salty spray.
For more information, contact Orca Enterprises LLC or a similar company.