5 Top Whale Watching Spots in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Whale Watching Spots in Halifax

Set along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean and just a short drive from the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Strait, Halifax is a hotbed of marine adventures, including being one of the best places in Canada to go whale watching.

Despite whales being found throughout the waters of Nova Scotia, actually spotting these majestic sea mammals takes some planning. In this guide, we will explore the top whale watching spots in Halifax, along with the best time of year to visit and the types of whales you can expect to see.

The Best Time of Year to Go Whale Watching in Halifax

First things first. For the best chance of spotting a whale in Halifax, you have to plan your visit at the right time of the year. While whales can be found in the waters around Nova Scotia all year round, they are much more abundant in the summer, when migratory patterns result in larger populations flocking to the area to feed on the high volumes of fish, krill, and plankton. 

Peak whale watching season is between June and October, with the absolute best month being August.

Types of Whale Species Near Halifax

There are up to 12 different species of whales that frequent the waters around Nova Scotia. Minke whales, pilot whales, humpback whales, sei whales, and fin whales are the most commonly spotted species and can be found around both the Bay of Fundy and Cape Breton Island.

While not quite as common, the blue whale species can occasionally be spotted within the Bay of Fundy. This fascinating species is famous for its size, even being believed to be the largest animal to have ever existed. Sperm whales, beluga whales, and killer whales can also sometimes be seen within the area, although these species are much more rare. 

Still, even more rare and exciting to spot is the North Atlantic right whale. With only about 400 individuals remaining, this elusive type of whale is considered an endangered species, with the waters around Halifax being one of the world’s best places to spot it.

The 5 Best Whale Watching Spots Near Halifax, Nova Scotia

The two most common areas in Nova Scotia where whales are often sighted are the Bay of Fundy and in the waters around Cape Breton Island. However, there are several regions along Nova Scotia’s rugged coastline where the impressive marine mammal can also often be seen, including numerous spots near Halifax.

Whale watching spots in Halifax

1. Brier Island

For the absolute best chance of spotting a whale, you should head over to Brier Island. Located near the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, Brier Island is about a four-hour drive from Halifax. Still, as one of the most popular spots for humpback, right, and finback whales, it is well worth the extended drive to ensure you have the best chance of actually spotting the aquatic species.

While whales can often be seen from the shores of the island, the best option is to book a boat tour with Brier Island Whale Watch for an experienced guide who knows the waters.

2. Pleasant Bay

Cape Breton Island is a great general area to explore marine life, and whales are often spotted off its northern and western shores. While tour companies operate around the entire island, the best region to go whale watching is around Pleasant Bay along the western shore.

Unfortunately, Pleasant Bay is a longer drive from Halifax than Brier Island, taking about five hours to reach from the provincial capital. Luckily, Cape Breton Island more than makes up for its distance by providing several of Nova Scotia’s top attractions, and a whale-watching tour can easily be paired with a road trip along the Cabot Trail.

3. Digby Neck

For those who don’t want to take the ferry all the way to Brier Island, the next best place to go whale watching along the Bay of Fundy is at Digby Neck. Cutting about an hour off the drive, Digby Neck takes about three hours to reach from Halifax.

While less abundant than the waters of Brier Island, Digby Neck often hosts populations of up to 400 whales. During the summer months, the waters of the neck are even often used as nursing grounds, and pods of whales can frequently be spotted from the shoreline.

Best whale watching spots in Halifax

4. Lunenburg

If you are looking for some prime whale watching closer to the city, you should head over to the nearby port town of Lunenburg. Located just over an hour from Halifax, Lunenburg is a quiet historic town and UNESCO World Heritage Site that is more commonly associated with its historical attractions.

However, just off the town’s monumental shores is a whole world of marine life. Along with being a great spot to go whale watching, other animals you may find swimming the town’s surrounding waters include dolphins, ocean sunfish, leatherback turtles, and bluefin tuna.

5. Halifax Boat Tours

While the city of Halifax isn’t the best spot to go whale watching in Nova Scotia, it is definitely the most convenient. Although very rare, whales can occasionally be spotted in the waters just off the Halifax Harbour. However, the much more effective way to go whale watching in the city is to sign up for a whale-watching tour.

Along a Halifax whale watch tour, visitors are brought just a short boat ride from the Halifax Harbour to more naturalized areas where whales are much more abundant. There are several tour providers operating from the Halifax Harbour, including A&M Sea Charters and Capt. Mark’s Whale and Seal Cruise.

Planning a visit to Halifax for the upcoming whale-watching season? Don’t forget to book your room at Cameo Suites for a convenient base near the harbour.