Whale Watching On The Oregon Coast
Whale watching on the Oregon Coast can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Although several species of whales might be spotted, the most commonly seen is the Gray Whale which migrates along the coast twice annually.
The whales usually travel within 2.5 miles of shore along 5,000 – 7,000 miles of coastline. This route makes this one of the few whale migrations that we can see from shore.
Gray Whale Migration
Spring migration occurs in waves from January through June. Adult males and juveniles, as well as newly pregnant females are the first to head north. Mothers and babies stay in the lagoons of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula a month or two longer than the others so babies can gain blubber and strength before making the long journey north.
Fall migration southward occurs from October through February and is led by pregnant females who are eager to reach the warm birthing and nursery lagoons, followed by males, and other adult females. Juveniles join the journey south, but some don’t even reach Mexico before turning around and heading north.
Resident Gray Whales in Summer
Some gray whales do not continue on to Alaskan waters but stay off the coast of Oregon between June and November. These part-time residents number about 200. Summer feeding whales are very close to shore and eat tiny mysid shrimp that live in the kelp beds. They may feed for hours in the same location.
Whale Watching Tips
Whale watching on the Oregon Coast is not difficult, but a few tips make it easier. Any location with an ocean view may yield whale sightings, and morning light with the sun at your back is best. Whale spouts can be spotted with your naked eye; then you can focus more closely with binoculars. Afternoon light reflects off the water and makes viewing difficult. Any spot with an ocean view may yield whale sightings, but higher locations are better than sandy beaches.
For an up close and personal experience, try whale watching from a charter boat.
Whale Watching Spoken Here Program
Seeing one of the largest creatures on earth surface offshore is an incredible experience. Through the Whale Watching Spoken Here (WWSH) program, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) places trained volunteers at overlooks along the Oregon coast to assist visitors in spotting gray whales during their two major annual migrations in the winter and spring.
From north to south, there are numerous Whale Watching Spoken Here sites in Oregon. With or without a volunteer to assist, these are the best locations along the coast to spot whales.
There are 24 designated whale watching locations along the Oregon Coast.
For additional information on the Whale Watching Spoken Here program and a map of the best whale watching locations, click here.
- Ecola State Park (this location is just minutes from Inga’s Cottage)
- Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Marker Turnout on Highway 101
- Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
- Cape Lookout State Park – 2.5 mile hike to site at tip of Cape
- Cape Kiwanda
- Inn at Spanish Head Lobby on 10th floor
- Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
- The Whale Watching Center/Depoe Bay Sea Wall
- Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint
- Cape Foulweather
- Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
- Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
- Don Davis City Park
- Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center
- Cook’s Chasm Turnout
- Sea Lion Caves Turnout – large Highway 101 turnout south of tunnel
- Umpqua Lighthouse, near Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
- Shore Acres State Park
- Face Rock Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint
- Cape Blanco Lighthouse, near Cape Blanco State Park
- Battle Rock Wayfinding Point, Port Orford
- Cape Sebastian
- Cape Ferrelo
- Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon
Whale Watching Expeditions
View whales in their natural habitat with Whale Research EcoExcursions. Guided daily excursions are led by Captain Carrie Newell and her team. Captain Carrie Newell is a professor of marine biology and whale researcher. Her research has been featured on Jean-Michel Cousteau’s show Gray Whale Obstacle Course. Voted to the top 25 things to do in Oregon by Dream Vacation Magazine. Daily departures from Depoe Bay are scheduled at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm Book online here or call (541) 912-6734 to make reservations.
Dockside Charters run whale watching excursions on a daily basis during whale watching season from 50 foot Delta Charter boats and are Coast Guard certified. Reservations for whale watching tours can be made by calling 541-765-2545.