Whale watching with kids

Whale watching with kids


What does responsible travel recommend?

Seeing a humpback breach or a blue whale's impossibly powerful fluke will astound even the most computer-bound child. It will awaken an interest in life under the sea and marine ecology which will hopefully stay with them for life. Marine biologists accompany many trips, and booking a family-friendly tour will ensure presentations are tailored for inquisitive little minds. This will also ensure your boat is suitable for children and you're not out on the sea long enough to encourage fidgeting - and there may even be other kids around to share the experience with yours. Seven and up is the recommended age for whale watching with kids, but this will vary according to the location and they types of tour offered - some offer a wide range of activities when back on land, and more space to run around, so be sure to consult your operator.

Activities for families


What to do with little ones

There's little more thrilling than being at eye-level with the biggest animals on the planet, and kayaking offers a truly up close and personal experience. When whale watching with kids, double kayaks are safe for them to share with their parents, and you can paddle out to sea in the hope that curious orcas, dolphins and maybe even something bigger will approach you as you float.
The ocean's giants are so good at capturing your attention that you may forget about what's happening back on dry land. Whale watching takes place off some superb, wildlife-rich landscapes, so when whale watching with kids, let them stretch their legs for a day or two, and head out to look for moose, deer, elephant seals, penguins, leopards and fur seals.
The Azores have a unique feature to boost whale sightings - land-based lookouts known as 'vigia'. No longer used for whaling purposes, these skilled spotters can see whales up to 10km out to sea, then radio back to boats to increase chances of sightings. You can visit their lookout towers, and kids (and adults!) can test their own eyesight to see how far away they can spy the whales.

Whale watching with kids


responsible travel asks the experts

Amanda Stafford, from our supplier Dolphin and Whale Connection, shares her tips on whale watching with kids - and how to choose a boat:
"Families should think about how their children cope on boats and how long the boat trips are. A little one on a three-hour RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable) trip may be ok up to a point, but not if you've got a really difficult, fidgety child and you don't see anything for an hour. Usually we start them whale watching at seven. We do have younger ones, but seven's a good age. Make sure there's some good educational stuff, and a guide on the boat who's giving information to kids as well as telling them where to look and what to look out for. It's good for everybody, but especially for children."
Sue Grimwood, from our supplier Steppes Travel, offers advice on whale watching with kids:
"If someone has young children and wants to take them whale watching, I'd say to go to Alaska, where you've got lots of different options. There's a very good chance you'll see whales but it's not a specific whale watching trip. It's a mixed journey. Trips to Baja and Azores are very whale focused, and I imagine kids would be very keen to see whales once or twice, but not to spend a whole week looking at them. You still get off the boat in Baja and see other things, but the trips really revolve around the whales."
Natasha Preston, from our supplier Exodus, offers tips of whale watching with kids in Sri Lanka:
"If it's something your kids are into anyway, it shouldn't be too hard to get them excited about the whales and being out on the water. I always find the leaders and guides are so knowledgeable that they can give you so much information and engage you without it feeling like a lesson. You might be out at sea for a couple of hours without seeing a great deal, but they're really good at keeping you interested, telling you more about their country and wildlife and marine life, so they're great for kids as well.
I think Sri Lanka is a great family destination. There's lot of interesting activities, interesting culture and history and fabulous coastline round there, so you can have a nice mix of cultural activities then spend some time down on the coast - enjoying the beaches, snorkelling, that kind of thing, for keeping kids busy. "
Photo credits: [Binoculars: Mats Hagwall] [Kayaking: Winky] [Deer: Alasdair Middleton] [Azores lookouts: Mrfotos | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images] [Alaska: Luke Jones]
Written by Vicki Brown
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