Whale watching is all about planning and patience. There are certain spots that are whale hot spots, where your chances of spotting them are high. Yet, even under the best conditions, whales can be tricky to find. However, most commercial whale watching trips have surprisingly high success rates, as they tend to concentrate on well-known whale populations during peak season. Here are some of the best locations to go whale spotting, although there are whale-watching trips in close to 119 counties today.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to the blue whale, the sperm whale, and the humpback. Its southern tip nudges the depths of the continental shelf, which is favoured by the elusive blue whale, and is the perfect spot to catch them in their natural habitat. Nowhere else in the world does the world’s largest living creature swim close to land.

Vancouver Island, Canada
Over 20,000 grey whales pass the island's Pacific coast in spring. It is also home to the orca - the most researched pods in the world, famous from the Hollywood movie Free Willy. In addition, you can probably spot the humpback and the minke, if you're lucky.

Iceland
The North Atlantic is a good feeding ground for the mammals; where whale-watching trips run from the west or north of the country - from the main hubs of Húsavik and Reykjavík. Here, you can spot the minke, the humpback, the blue whale, sperm whale and the sei.

Baja California, Mexico
The great grey whales come to breed in San Ignacio Lagoon on the Pacific Coast, and multiple other species including the blue, fin, Bryde's, humpback, sperm and minke congregate in the food-rich Sea of Cortez.

Colombia
Colombia's Pacific coast is on a humpback migration route, where sighting hotspots include Nuqui, Bahía Solano and Bahía Málaga, special favourites with the humpback whale.

Azores
This remote archipelago sits in nutrient-rich waters, and the seas sustain resident whale populations of sperm, humpback, blue and orca. The islands are also visited by other migrating species, so visitors are often rewarded with multiple sightings.

Western Cape, South Africa
Here, where the oceans converge, is a huge diversity of marine life. Migrating whales find shelter in the bays, where warmer waters are ideal calving spots. You can be sure to spot the humpback and Bryde's in abundance.

South Island, New Zealand
Off the coast of South Island, where the tectonic plates collide, warm ocean currents meet off Kaikoura, and attract an abundance of marine life. Here you can spot the sperm whale, the humpback, the blue whale and the orca.

Tonga
During the austral winter, the humpbacks migrate from the South Pole to warmer Polynesian waters to mate and give birth. Tonga is perfect for sightings of the sperm and humpback whales.

Scotland
A third of the North Atlantic's whale population migrates via western Scotland every year, while some species can be spotted all year round. Sightings of the minke, fin and humpback are common through the year.

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