Africa is home to some of the best whale and dolphin watching destinations on earth. It’s hugely rewarding getting close to these majestic marine species and the diversity of species is impressive.
So where can you go for whale watching in Africa?
You can whale watch in South Africa’s Cape Coast all the way up to Morocco’s straits. You can swim with Whale Sharks, see Humpbacks from the comfort of your deck chair, get close to killer Orca whales and head out on a boat to get close to Sperm whales.
In this blog, we share a handful of our favourite spots on the African continent.
Hermanus, South Africa
The World Wildlife Fund rates Hermanus as one of the top twelve whale watching locations in the world. Here you can watch the whales from the land along the coastline while you tuck into your hot chips wrapped in paper. Viewing terraces have also been built for tourists at the Old Harbour and Gearings Point. You’ve heard of a town crier? Well Hermanus has a Whale Crier who blows a kelp horn alerting people of the presence of whales.
Don’t forget there are some fantastic boat tours on offer too, which get you out on the water and close to the whales. You can also get an aerial perspective with private charter flights over the coastline and ocean from Cape Town and a few other tourist spots along the coast.
The types of whales that pass through include Southern Right whales, Humpbacks, Bryde’s and Orcas on the odd occasion.
The best time to spot the various species are July to November for Southern right whales, Humpbacks are May to December while Bryde’s are all year round.
Tofo beach, Mozambique
It’s a humbling experience swimming close to whale sharks, especially when they average 10 metres in length. These gentle giants feed on plankton and present no threat to humans. We work with ethical operators with a background in conservation and strict guidelines for shark-friendly interactions to ensure these endangered species stay around for years to come.
Too beach is considered the whale shark capital of Africa – they don’t just pass through the area, they reside here. The best time to visit is between October and March when plankton blooms attract greater numbers of the Whale sharks, sometimes up to 50 individuals!
This colourful fishing village sits on the secluded shores of Mozambique’s Inhambane Province and there are several dive centres offering whale shark trips.
Nosy Be, Madagascar
This little island sits off the northwest coast of Madagascar and is a hot spot for diving. During September and December it becomes a a highway for Whale Sharks plus manta rays, Humpback whales and even the rare Omura’s whale.
Between June and November each year, whales migrate from their icy Antarctica feeding territory to the warmer waters off Mozambique where they come to breed. The peak calving season is July and August and nothing beats seeing the waters teem with gentle giants large and small. You’ll potentially see Southern Right Whales, Humpback whales, Bryde’s whales and on the rare occasion, orca. You can spot them from land or boats and South Africa’s number one spot is Hermanus. It’s arguably the best land-based whale watching in the world. The reason being is the whales come close to the shore with their calves, literally a few metres from the shore. The town even has a ‘whale crier’ and he’s the only one in the world!
Straight of Gibraltar, Morocco
The Strait of Gibraltar separates Morocco from Spain and this expanse of water is rich in phytoplankton, offering a gourmet buffet for whales and dolphins. The best time to see whales is between April and October and the species often spotted include Pygmy whales, Pilot whales, Sperm whales and Orcas.
You can head out on a boat in the Straight of Gibraltar or offshore from Tangier in search of the whales.