The best spots for whale watching in South America Uncover South America

South America | Blog The best spots for whale watching in South America

December 8, 2021

Whale watching is a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s for sure one of the most incredible encounters you will have in your life. There is something mesmerising about watching these gigantic creatures jump out of the deep ocean, and it should be on top of every travellers bucket list. 

Despite being the biggest animal to ever have lived – yes, even bigger than dinosaurs – whales are pretty rare, and It’s not that simple to find them. But luckily for you, hordes of whales swim to the South American waters for mating and breeding seasons, so the continent is full of great spots to see them.  

If you’re a wildlife lover or simply want to live an extraordinary experience, make sure to include these best whale watching destinations to your South American trip. 

Whale watching in Brazil

Ibiraquera - Praia do Rosa: Located 80km south of Florianopolis, the gorgeous Praia do Rosa is one of Brazil's best spots for whale watching. Every year, from July to November, southern right whales migrate there to give birth, taking advantage of the calm waters and good weather. This small piece of paradise gets its unique charm from the Serra do Mar mountains, the white dunes, and the Atlantic Ocean's deep blue. While you're there, don't forget to visit the cute Ibiraquera, try your hand at surfing and simply enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.  

Abrolhos Archipelago: The small Siriba Island is the only one from the archipelago that is accessible for travellers, and it’s also an incredible place to watch the migration of whales. From July to November, you can observe the humpback whales that come here to breed around the reefs. The warm waters and colourful corals make it an ideal spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. The best way to access the island is from Caravelas, where you can enjoy the beautiful beaches and charming architecture.

Itacaré: The surf capital of Bahia is another paradisiac spot where whales come from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to mate and give birth. Itacaré is quite popular among backpackers and is packed with great activities that will please pretty much all tastes. You can satisfy your thirst for adrenaline with rafting and ziplining, go on a hike to discover some breath-taking waterfalls and enjoy some of the most incredible sunsets you will ever see.

Whale watching in Argentina 

Peninsula Valdes: Besides being the most famous place for whale watching in Argentina, Peninsula Valdes is also a paradise for wildlife lovers of all kinds. From June to November, you can spot the majestic southern whales from Puerto Madryn or Puerto Piramides. For the Orcas, head to Punta Norte from February to May, where you might have the chance – depending on who you ask – to watch them hunt sea lions. You will also enjoy encountering many friendly penguins, elephant seals, armadillos, and grey wolves. 

Las Grutas: A little bit more off the beaten path, las grutas is an ideal sea resort if you want to combine long days at the beach and whale watching. From August to November, embark on a semi-rigid boat with a small group for an intimate experience. While you’re there, head to San Antonio Este to discover Constantini Vicci, a private museum managed by a father and his son, where you will learn about indigenous culture and traditions.   

Whale watching in Chile 

Chiloe Island: If you dream of seeing blue whales, Chiloe Island is the right place to go. Gulf of Corcovado is one of the most important nursing and feeding grounds, so there is a very good chance to spot them between January and April. There, you will have the opportunity to see Magellanic and Humboldt penguins, green-backed firecrown, black-necked swan and Chilean flamingo. It’s also an incredible place in terms of culture, handicraft, and woodwork. You will be amazed by the Palafitos, traditional wooden houses and the colourful churches. Don’t leave without tasting their delicious fish and seafood! 

Francisco Coloane Marine Park: The Park is the only place in the southern hemisphere where Humpback whales feed off Antarctica. In addition to whales, you will be able to observe austral dolphins, sea lions, albatross, Magellanic Penguin and much more. The nearest city is Punta Arenas, where you can relax in Plaza Munoz Gamero, visit the Nao Victoria Museo, bird watch in Isla Magdalena and hike in the infamous Torres del Paine National Park.

La Serena: La Serena is an unmissable destination for whale’s lovers. From there, you can access Punta de Choros, a protected nature reserve where you will have the chance to spot blue whales and humpback whales between April and October.  But also, seals, Humboldt penguins and bottlenose dolphins. In la Serena, visit the archaeological museum, beautiful churches, Playa El Faro, and its gorgeous lighthouse and indulge in water sports activities like windsurfing. Another great thing to do if you have the time is to take a trip to the Elqui Valley for an unforgettable stargazing experience. 

Arica: If you visit the north of Chile, Arica is another warm and sunny coastal town from where you can observe mikes, sperm whales and humpback whales. The city itself is quite small, but it gives you access to many wonders. For example, the Lauca National Park and its gorgeous Chungará lake, the mystical village of Parinacota, declared a national monument and the incredible Salar de Surire. 
It also gives you the chance to meet The Aymara people, the second-largest indigenous groups in South America, discover their culture and learn about their beliefs and traditions.

Whale watching in Peru 

Mancora: For one of the best whale watching experiences in Peru, head to Mancora between August and October. You might have the chance to see whales swimming with their babies and males jumping out of the water to attract females. Fun fact to remember before you head out, baby whales are called calves. It’s also an incredible place to take kite-surf and surf lessons, spot green turtles, try some delicious ceviche and enjoy the nightlife. To add some wellness to your trip to Peru, you can visit the mud baths located about 11km from the town. 

Los Órganos: Not far from Mancora but not yet appreciated by many travellers, Los Órganos can be a great alternative If you’re looking for a quieter fishing village from where you can go whale watching. As for Mancora, plan your vacations during August, September and October for the best chance to see Humpback Whales. There, you can also enjoy the sun and the beaches, taste incredible seafood, go diving or wander the local markets. 


Whale watching in Ecuador 

Machalilla National Park: If you’re looking for a great natural area that mixes up culture and wildlife, then Machalilla National Park is the right place for you. On top of being a great spot for whale watching between June and September, it’s also renowned for sea turtles that you can observe from October to December. There, enjoy a bath in the sulfury lagoon of Agua Blanca Lagoon, discover ancient ruins at the Museo de Agua Blanca, and spot some black howler monkeys or armadillos. 

Galapagos Islands: A trip to Ecuador wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Galapagos Islands. Worldly renowned for its wildlife, the island is an absolute paradise for nature lovers. From June to November, it’s the best time to spot blue whales and humpback whales, but you will also have the chance to meet sea lions, giant Galapagos tortoises, iguanas, Blue-footed boobies and much more. 

Puerto Lopez: Can’t go to the Galapagos Islands? It’s ok; you can still have the experience of your life from Puerto Lopez. Around the months of June to September, go whale watching, then take a boat trip to Isla de La Plata for a chance to see some of the Galapagos’ most famous residents.  There, you visit the rainforest of San Sebastian, go paragliding, or rent a kayak.

Whale watching in Colombia 

Nuqui: Located on the Pacific coast in the department of Chocó, Nuqui is an incredible place for those who want to reconnect with themselves and mother earth. It's a peaceful off the beaten path destination where eco-tourism is the main attraction. If you're going to go whale watching in Nuqui, you should go between July and October. Aside from that, take long walks on the peaceful beaches, discover the jungle, its waterfalls, wildlife, and crystalline rivers or go sport-fishing. 

Malaga Bay: If you like nature and want to support community-based tourism, then you should add Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural to your Colombian vacations. Not far from Buenaventura, Malagua Bay is a worldly renown spot for its biodiversity and has one of the world's highest humpback whale birth rates. Go there from July to October to admire this incredible spectacle. You will also help an Afro-descendant community who uses eco-tourism to develop their territory. 

Gorgona Island: Once the home to a maximum-security prison, Gorgona Island is today a paradise for flora and fauna lovers. With more than 500 species of marine fauna, 100 insect species and 150 bird species, Gorgona will blow your mind away. Take a hike to find pre-Hispanic archaeological remains, relax in Playa Blanca and enjoy its white sand and quiet turquoise water or take a boat tour to observe whales and dolphins. As for Nuqui and Malaga bay, if you're visiting the island for the whales, privilege the months of July, August, September and October.  


We hope that this article gave you enough information about the best places for whale watching in South America and that you’re excited about your next trip!

Just keep in mind that whale watching is a privilege that comes with great responsibilities. While it can helps improving the economy of these countries and bring awareness about endangered species, it’s very important to choose tour companies that respects whales end their ecosystem.

If you like to include this experience to your South America Holidays, give us a shout and we will team up with our carefully selected partners to create for you the adventure of your dreams! 


Uncover South America Team


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