Whether you are on the East Coast or the West Coast of the United States, there are many beautiful beaches that you can go to where you can go for whale watching. It is an amazing experience to see a whale, and it is something that will stand as a highlight of your next vacation.

These seven beaches in the U.S. are some particularly good destinations for whale watching. Many of them also have whale watching cruises located nearby, which is a great way to get even closer to the whales. For the best photos, go whale watching in the morning, when the water is calm.

Where to See Whales

1. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park - Big Sur, California

You can see whales all year round from the stunning cliffs of Big Sur or at Julia Pfeiffer State Park. From December to early February, California Gray Whales migrate south from Alaska to Mexico, and they start returning to Alaska in February. On the northern migration, they swim closer to shore with their babies. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out Monterey Bay, another great whale watching location nearby.

2. Race Point Beach - Provincetown, Massachusetts

Thousands of people go to Cape Cod every spring and summer to see humpback, North America, fin and minke whales. Race Point Beach and nearby Herring Cove in Provincetown are two great places to go to see migrating whales. Consider also taking a whale watching cruise out of Cape Cod for a closer look!

3. Torrey Pines State Beach - San Diego, California

This beach in San Diego is a great place to look for gray whales, especially on the cliffs above the beach at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. A network of hiking trails and beautiful views of the Pacific serve as an ideal location for spotting whales and taking pictures. Head to nearby Cabrillo National Monument for another great place to see the whales.

4. Lime Kiln State Park - San Juan Islands, Washington

From late May to mid-October, you can see orcas at the San Juan Islands, where they come to feed on salmon. Lime Kiln State Park, located on the west side of San Juan Island, is also known as “Whale Watch Park” due to the high frequency of whale sightings in the summer months.

5. Makapu’u Lighthouse - Oahu, Hawaii

Whales call Hawaii home from late December to early May, and you can see whales from every island. As you travel through Hawaii, keep watching the water for spray! The Makapu’u Lighthouse on Oahu is a great place to see whales to due its high vantage point with a great view across the water. It’s also a good place to go for scenic photos and to explore the tidal pools below. If you plan to travel to other islands during your trip to Hawaii, check out the Sanctuary Education Center in Kihei, Maui, and Lakapahi State Historic Park on the big island.

6. Long Island, New York

Take a break from the city and head to the beach on Long Island, where an estimated 25 species of whales frequent the waters between July and September. This is a good place to try a whale watching cruise - if you plan to stay on shore, bring binoculars.

7. Umpqua River Lighthouse - Winchester Bay, Oregon

Spring is a great time to see whales along the Oregon coastline, and there are many beautiful beaches that you can stop at. The spectacular view from the Umpqua River Whale Watching Station is worth a stop at all times of year, not just during whale watching season. During migration, trained volunteers are there to help you to spot gray whales.

This article was written by Cathy Trainor.