Orcas at East Point, courtesy Miles Ritter
Whale Watching at Thieves Bay
WHY VISIT A WHALE TRAIL SITE
The Whale Trail is a series of locations where you can see whales, dolphins, or other marine mammals from shore.
- To be on The Whale Trail, a site must offer a reasonably good chance of seeing orcas or other marine mammals at some point during the year and be in a publicly accessible location.
- Whale Trail sites also include educational facilities that have a strong focus on marine education and conservation, or sites with cultural or historical significance in our story with the whales.
- Many sites include interpretive signs customized to show which animals are likely to be observed there, connecting people specifically to the site.
From 16 inaugural sites, there are now more than 0, across four states and two countries. Whale Trail sites are in city, county, state and national parks and tribal lands.
WHALE TRAIL SITES
- All Regions
- British Columbia
Alki Beach Park, Seattle
Alki Beach Park is a long sandy beach that stretches from Duwamish Head to Alki Point in West Seattle. Featuring a jogging/biking path, firepits, picnic tables and a bathhouse/art studio, the beach is popular and widely used year-round.
Avila Beach Pier
Avila Beach is located just a stone’s throw from San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach on California's Highway 1 Discovery Route. Exit the 101 freeway and follow Avila Beach Drive, a scenic central coast road, which leads visitors through a lush valley lined with hundred year old oak and sycamore trees, and follows a meandering…
Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
Barkley Sound is a rich feeding ground for many marine mammals. Our sheltered waters also make a great rest stop for migrating whales.
Battle Rock Wayside Park, Port Orford
Battle Rock Park is named for the historic battle that took place at Battle Rock where the Qua-to-mah Native Americans fought Capt. William Tichenor's men in 1851. Now, visitors can hike the hill to the top of the Rock and see one of the most spectacular views on the coast. And if they’re lucky, they…
BC Ferries is one of the largest ferry operators in the world, moving more than 60,000 customers throughout coastal BC every day. With 25 routes, BC Ferries provides an essential link between the mainland of British Columbia, and the various islands and remote areas without road access. BC Ferries also serve as advocates for the…
Bellhouse Park, Galiano Island
Located on Burrill Point, Bellhouse Park offers excellent views of busy Active Pass, Mayne Island, and the Strait of Georgia.
Bush Point has public beach access at its boat ramp facility on the southwest side of Whidbey Island. Walk the shores and look for whales across the narrowest point of the North Puget Sound towards Marrowstone Island.
Shamel Community Park is a six-acre San Luis Obispo County Park with beach access and a beautiful ocean view. Leffingwell Landing Trail, Moonstone Beach, and all along the gorgeous ocean bluffs are the perfect places to watch whales and wildlife. The California Gray Whale migration south occurs in late December through February and migration north…
Cape Alava is the westernmost point of the continental U.S. Located in Olympic National Park and the Ozette Indian Reservation, the Cape is accessible via a 3.5 mile hike along the Ozette Loop. The spectacular beaches at Cape Alava feature petroglyphs and abundant marine mammals sightings. Gray whales can be seen off the coast in…
Cape Falcon Viewpoint
Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Protected Area is located adjacent to Oswald West State Park on Oregon's north coast. The site covers 20 square miles and includes offshore rocks and a rugged coastline.
Cape Flattery is the most northwest tip of the contiguous United States. Located on the Makah Nation at Neah Bay, the Cape offers stunning views of marine mammals, birds, and dramatic marine landscapes.
Named for St. Perpetua by Captain James Cook in March of 1778, Siuslaw National Forest’s Cape Perpetua National Scenic Area is the dramatic meeting place of two distinct but joined landscapes; dense and complex forests and the Pacific Ocean.
Cape Roger Curtis, Bowen Island
The Bowen Island Whale Trail site is located in the south west corner of the island, in the Cape Roger Curtis area. Its lovely western view looks toward Vancouver Island and offers glorious sunsets, not to mention whale sightings.
Carmanah Point Lighthouse, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is nestled in the ḥaḥuułi (traditional territories) of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. The resources of the ocean and temperate rainforests have traditionally supported the social, cultural and economic well-being of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples for generations upon generations.
Cayucos is located on California’s scenic Central Coast, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The recently rebuilt Cayucos Pier was originally constructed in 1872 by Captain James Cass, the Founder of Cayucos. The Pier helped to establish Cayucos as a commercial port for ships sailing from Los Angeles and San Francisco to bring in…
Charles Richey Viewpoint, Seattle
This viewpoint is named for Charles Richey Sr., who operated Richey’s Alki Community Drug Store in the early to mid-1900s. Located just south of Alki Point, this is one of the best spots in Seattle to see whales and other marine life. The intertidal area below you is part of Constellation Park Marine Reserve. Complex…
Founded in 1888 by Captain Thomas Coupe, Coupeville is the second oldest city in Washington State. With its picturesque boardwalk, shops, and Victorian homes, the town is a favorite getaway.
Crissy Field Center
The waters within the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, located just a few miles from San Francisco, are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem. Encompassing a diversity of highly productive marine habitats, the sanctuary supports an abundance of life, including many threatened or endangered species.
Dana Point Headlands
The four conservation parks that comprise the nearly 60 acres of the Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area include Harbor Point Conservation Park, Dana Point Preserve, Hilltop Conservation Park and the South Strands Conservation Park. The conservation parks are home to over 150 species of plants and animals that are native to coastal Southern California including…
Destruction Island Viewpoint
Located approximately one mile south of Ruby Beach, this viewpoint looks out on Destruction Island. Former home to a lighthouse, the island is now part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge and the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Over a dozen species of seabirds nest in this sanctuary. The total population of seabirds may exceed one million during migration.
Discovery Center, San Simeon
The Coastal Discovery Center is a joint venture between Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks. Located on beautiful San Simeon Bay, the Coastal Discovery Center celebrates the connection between land and sea.
Discovery Passage, Campbell River
Discovery Passage forms part of the inner channel between Vancouver Island and the Discovery Islands, connecting Johnstone Strait to the north with the Strait of Georgia to the south.
Don Davis Park
Don Davis Park lies within Newport's Nye Beach district, situated on a 2 acre site with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. On a clear day one can view north to Yaquina Head and Lighthouse and south all the way to Cape Perpetua! A fantastic spot to view whales rain or shine as the gazebo…
Dosewallips State Park
Dosewallips State Park is a year-round camping park located on the west side of Hood Canal, and both sides of the Dosewallips River. The park features both saltwater and freshwater habitats, and abundant wildlife. A resident herd of Roosevelt elks can often be seen in the Park.
Drummond Bay, South Pender
Drummond Bay offers a large crescent shaped pebble beach with a huge collection of driftwood. The viewing platform at the entrance offers two benches and is a beautiful place to enjoy the scenery and to watch for whales.
East Limestone Island
East Limestone Island is located in the K'uuna Gwaay Conservancy on Haida Gwaii. This island is home to Laskeek Bay Conservation Society's remote field station, where the organization has been conducting long-term monitoring and research for nearly 30 years with the support of citizen scientist volunteers.
East Point, Saturna Island, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
East Point, on Saturna Island, is one of the very best locations in the Southern Gulf Islands of Canada to see orcas from land. The Southern Resident Pods swim past East Point from May to November as they travel from the Pacific Ocean to the Fraser River Delta, which is one of their favorite feeding…
Emma Schmitz Overlook, Seattle
Emma Schmitz donated this shoreline overlook to the City of Seattle in 1945. Me-Kwa-Mooks Park, behind the viewpoint, is located on land that was once the Schmitz homestead.
Estero Bay is our gorgeous 15-mile bay situated in Los Osos/Baywood, Morro Bay and Cayucos. The calm waters are a home to many marine mammals, fish, birds and wildlife that are rarely seen in other parts of California.
Exploration Center, Santa Cruz
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center is located in the heart of Santa Cruz’s famed beach area, just steps away from the city’s Municipal Wharf and about .25 miles from the site of the new Whale Trail sign at Lighthouse Park.
Fay Bainbridge State Park
Step onto the 1,420 foot stretch of sandy beach and cast your gaze across the Puget Sound looking for whales while taking in the view of the Cascades, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker. Make sure to check out Old Man House which is located nearby on the site of the home of Chief Seattle.
Feiro Marine Life Center
The Feiro Marine Life Center is an educational and scientific organization located on the City Pier in Port Angeles. Through its exhibits and programs, the Center promotes marine education and conservation.
From the shores of Fort Casey, scan the scenic view for whales across the Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The park is the site of Admiralty Head Lighthouse. A coast artillery post features two 10-inch and two 3-inch historic guns on display. The park features 10,810-feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget…
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites are located on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples, today known as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. We extend our appreciation for the opportunity to live and learn on this territory.
Fred and Bette Cotton Community Park, Mayne Island
This beautiful community park overlooks Active Pass, offering excellent views of marine mammals as they transit to and from Georgia Strait. In the summer months, keep a lookout for southern resident orcas.
Freshwater Bay County Park
Freshwater Bay County Park is a 21-acre park on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The tranquil bay features a boat ramp, and is a popular place to fish, kayak, and canoe. Freshwater Bay was given its name by Captain George Vancouver, during his exploration of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.
Georgina Point, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Established in 2003, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve protects a portion of the Strait of Georgia Lowlands natural region. It is part of the homeland of the Coast Salish First Nations.
Gorge Harbor, Cortes Island
Nestled at the entrance to Desolation Sound in the unceeded territories of the Klahoose, Tla’amin and Homalco Nations, Cortes Island lies at the doorstep of the breathtaking fjords that penetrate British Columbia’s wild coast.
Gowlland Point, South Pender
At the very tip of South Pender Island is Gowlland Beach Public Ocean Access. A crescent shaped pebble beach reached by wooden steps from the road, it has impressive views of the San Juan Islands and on a clear day, Mt. Baker. There is a platform with a bench directly next to the parking area.
Jetty Island is a two-mile-long, man-made island in the City of Everett, featuring a wide swath of sandy beach. The park is open during the summer months only, and is accessible via foot ferry from the Everett waterfront.
Kalaloch is known for its wide sandy beach. The Kalaloch area has two campgrounds, a concession-operated lodge, a ranger station (open daily in summer only) with exhibits and information desk, a picnic area, self-guided nature trails.
Kitimat is located at the head of the Douglas Channel on the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation. The waters here are rich with marine life. While soaking in the natural beauty of the area, make sure to keep your eyes peeled. You might have the opportunity to see the misty blows from humpback whales,…
Kwisitis Visitor Centre, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is nestled in the ḥaḥuułi (traditional territories) of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. The resources of the ocean and temperate rainforests have traditionally supported the social, cultural and economic well-being of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples for generations upon generations. The sandy beaches and the lush rainforests of the Long Beach Unit are part of the…
La Push is the home of the Quileute Nation, located at the mouth of the Quillayute River on the Olympic Coast of Washington State. The nearby waters of the Pacific Ocean teem with salmon, cod and other prey. Diverse and abundant marine mammal species are found here, including a thriving population of sea otters. Marine mammals…
Laguna Point is an easily accessible wildlife viewing platform. After parking at Laguna Point parking lot follow the level wheelchair accessible boardwalk 1/3 of a mile to the viewing platform where the shore and waters are abundant with marine life. Visit the MacKerricher State Park visitor center to learn more about our coastline.
The City of Langley is located on Whidbey Island in Washington. Overlooking Saratoga Passage, the picturesque town offers close-up views of a wide variety of marine mammals. Langley is known for its art, charm, great restaurants and inns, and Whale Bell Park. The Whale Trail site is located at Whale Bell Park.
Langley Whale Center
Langley Whale Center is run by Volunteer Docents and open Thursdays through Sundays, 11 am till 5 pm. Free Admission to our Educational Exhibits, which include a Harbor Porpoise skeleton and other bone and pelt specimens. Learn about the Endangered Southern Resident Orcas, Transient Orcas and Gray Whales. Great outing for all ages!
Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver
The newest Whale Trail sign was recently installed in West Vancouver! Congratulations to Bailey Eagan of the BC Cetacean Sighting Network (BCCSN) and everyone involved. This is the fourth of five signs funded by a grant from Mountain Equipment Coop to BCCSN – The Whale Trail BC is well underway.
Lighthouse Point, Santa Cruz
Also known as Point Santa Cruz, this area forms the northern boundary of Monterey Bay. It is one of the last open headlands in any California urban area. Surfers, tourists, birds - including the rare black swift - and wintering monarch butterflies are drawn to this area. The lighthouse is home to one of the…
Lime Kiln Point State Park
Lime Kiln State Park is one of the best places in the world to watch whales from shore, and is the inspiration for The Whale Trail. The 3.6-acre day use park is on the west coast of San Juan Island, abutting Haro Strait. A meandering path along the rocky shore connects the Karen Munro Outlook…
Lincoln Park, Seattle
Lincoln Park offers 4.6 miles of walking paths, 3.9 miles of bike trails, five picnic shelters, and an outdoor heated saltwater pool and bathhouse. Colman Pool is near the site of the “Old Mudhole," a natural lagoon that was widened to serve as a pool in 1928. Tidal currents and supportive habitat make this point a…
Marina Beach Park, Edmonds
Explore beautiful sandy Marina Beach while gazing out across the Puget Sound looking for whales. Bring your kids and your four-legged friends too as there are play toys and an off-leash area at this picturesque park in Edmonds.
MaST – Marine Science and Technology Center
The Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Center is the marine science laboratory for Highline Community College. The MaST Center is dedicated to expanding knowledge about the Puget Sound and the surrounding environment through teaching, outreach, and research. The 2,500 square-foot facility offers public space, classroom, laboratories, offices, research areas with state-of-the-art equipment and an aquarium.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is a 47-acre non-profit botanical garden stretching from Coast Highway 1 to the Pacific Ocean containing a wide variety of world-recognized plant collections. This botanical gardens is one of the few with an ocean view. Come experience the peaceful tranquility of our garden by the sea mixed with the rugged beauty…
Milner Gardens, Vancouver Island University
Milner Gardens is a seaside garden in Qualicum Beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Located on the traditional lands of the Qualicum First Nation and overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
Montaña de Oro State Park
Moñtana de Oro is a beautiful State Park located just south of Los Osos and six miles southwest from Morro Bay. The park features rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, stream, canyons, and hills, including 1,347-foot Valencia peak. Naturalists, backpackers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders enjoy the solitude and freedom found along the park’s…
Moresby Camp, Haida Gwaii
Moresby Camp is a launch point for exploring the incredible marine diversity of Gwaii Haanas Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site.
Morro Bay is a waterfront city in San Luis Obispo County, California. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay is known as one of the most visually spectacular communities in America. Visitors can enjoy a plethora of year round activities including oceanside golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, bird watching, kite…
Navarro Point is a 56-acre Preserve containing stunning wildflowers and a 1.2-mile long coastal trail. Located just North of the Navarro River, this property offers spectacular views of the central Mendocino Coast.
Noyo Center for Marine Science
The Noyo Center for Marine Science Crow's Nest Interpretive Center sits directly on the Noyo Headlands in Fort Bragg. It is accessed via the Noyo Headlands Park Coastal Trail on a easy walking paved path. The Crow's Nest has an expansive view of the Pacific Coast and supplies spotting scopes for marine mammal watching. There…
Oak Bluffs, North Pender
This steep hike climbs up switchbacks and stairs through a dense tree canopy to the top of the 15 bluffs. Two viewpoints and three benches allow you to fully appreciate the scenery from 100 metres above sea level. The first view shows Bedwell Harbour Marina and South Pender, while the second looks toward Swanson Channel…
Oceano and Nipomo
Oceano and Nipomo are authentic California beach towns at the edge of the largest dunes complex in the state, found along California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route. The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the only place in California where visitors may drive on the beach and enjoy the area’s diverse recreation opportunities, from ATV…
Olympic Coast Discovery Center
The Olympic Coast Discovery Center is part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary which spans 65 miles of coastline which is shared with the Olympic National Park. Hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking and diving are among a few of the popular attractions to this area. There is an abundance of protected wildlife and marine life…
Pacifica Municipal Pier
The Rev. Herschell Harkins Memorial Pier (a.k.a. the Pacifica Municipal Pier) was built in 1973 and thrusts out almost a quarter mile into the Pacific Ocean. It is a popular spot for fisherman and for wildlife viewing.
Pedder Bay Marina, Victoria
The Strait of Juan de Fuca connects the inland waters of the Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean and serves as the main highway for shipping traffic in British Columbia and Washington State.
This stunning preserve, south of Point Arena, is now open to the public. Mendocino Land Trust (MLT) completed construction of a parking lot and 2.2-miles of trail in 2017. This 73-acre preserve is home to the endangered Point Arena Mountain Beaver and several rare plants, as well as a creek (which is recovering from cattle…
Pismo Beach is located along the Central Coast of California half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. This classic California beach town is famous for its miles of beautiful white sand beaches, outstanding accommodations and a rich wine region only minute’s away. Many visitors who come to Pismo Beach are now calling it their…
Point Arena Light Station
The Point Arena Light Station, 23 acres of rugged peninsula surrounded by water on three sides and shouldered adjacent to the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of the California Coastal National Monument, is the premier visitor destination in Mendocino County. The Lighthouse Tower stands as an iconic figure on the landscape of the American Pacific Coast, and…
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is located in Point Defiance Park northwest of downtown Tacoma. Exhibits include Asian Forest Sanctuary, Rocky Shores, Arctic Tundra, and Pacific Ocean just to name a few. Marine mammals on display include harbor seals, pacific walruses, and sea otters. The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium focuses on education and conservation…
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Considered a “crown jewel” of the California State Park system, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve draws nature lovers from around the world. With its breathtaking beauty, fascinating wildlife and cadre of friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, Point Lobos is a place to experience nature’s wonders at its best.
Point No Point Lighthouse
Point No Point is located on the north tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, about an hour north of Seattle. The long low sandspit faces Admiralty Inlet to the north and Puget Sound to the east and south. Strong currents flow around the point, which attract baitfish that in turn draw salmon and marine mammals close to shore.
Point Reyes National Seashore
From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people.
Point Roberts Lighthouse Park
Come to this unique part of the Washington coastline and visit the Orca Center on the boardwalk which has interpretive exhibits. The 21 acre park has come to be known as one of the best places to view Orcas from land in the area, especially in the summer months when 3 local pods pass by…
Point Robinson is between Seattle and Tacoma located on the northeast corner of Maury Island in Puget Sound. This narrow strip of land connects Maury Island to Vashon Island.
Port Hueneme Pier
The Port Hueneme Pier was originally constructed in 1956 and is 1,250 feet long and is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. The pier offers sweeping views of the Channel Islands and California coastline. The pier is next to a wide, sandy, and uncrowded beach.
Port of Kelsey Bay
Located within Vancouver Island's Inside Passage, near the village of Sayward, The Port of Kelsey Bay awaits your arrival. Orcas and sea lions are visible in the Johnstone Strait from the newly restored wharf which includes an inclement weather, glass enclosure viewing room.
Port Townsend Science Center
Founded by two teachers in 1982, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) is an educational facility located in Fort Warden State Park.
The Prince Rupert Whale Trail is located down on the Cow Bay Marine and public Dock. This easy to access viewpoint provides a stunning view of the harbour and Tuck Inlet.
Qualicum Beach First Nation Campground
Located north of Qualicum Beach, the Qualicum First Nation Campground overlooks the Strait of Georgia with a spectacular view of the coast mountains. Stop here for a great spot to camp, swim and relax while following the whale trail up Vancouver Island’s east coast. From the beach, watch for blows, flukes, and dorsal fins, as…
Redondo Beach, City of Des Moines
Stroll along a 1.1-mile boardwalk adjacent to Puget Sound. This urban waterscape is a hub for diving, fishing, and dining. Stop by the MaST Environmental Center
Rialto Beach is accessible by Mora Road, off of La Push Road. Rialto Beach has fabulous features encompassing rocky beaches, miles of giant drift logs, pounding waves and "seastacks" which are offshore islands.
Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
This serene L-shaped beach is approximately 1,300 feet long and a great place to watch for resident orcas in the winter months. The park contains 40 acres of land with trails and picnic shelters perfect for spending a day at the beach.
Salt Creek Recreation Area
For decades, Salt Creek Recreation Area has been a highly regarded site for wildlife viewing. Mammals, marine invertebrates, birds, and marine mammals can all be seen from the Park. Marine life can be seen from many vantage points in the park. Numerous interpretive kiosks throughout the park help with their identification. At low tide, the tidepools…
San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay
Located on San Francisco’s iconic waterfront, Aquarium of the Bay provides unforgettable encounters with local marine life that inspire both wonder and conservation. This marine nature center offers 300 feet of crystal clear acrylic tunnels holding 700,000 gallons of carefully maintained San Francisco Bay water that sustains approximately 20,000 animals who live in the Bay…
San Juan County Park
This beautiful park, located on the west side of San Juan Island, includes rocky bluffs and gravel beaches that overlook Haro Strait with views to the Straits of San Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. Look for orcas in the summer months while picnicking or camping. Enjoy the glorious sunsets and breathtaking views.