Whale watching vacations don't mean taking a fancy cruise; you can definitely view the earth's largest mammals as just part of an affordable summer vacation. It just so happens that many popular whale-watching destinations are also prime summer vacation spots, so you can definitely have all the thrills and relaxation you want out of a summer vacation, plus the added excitement of seeing whales in person. Choosing the right vacation spot means learning where you can find each kind of whales, and what else you can do on your trip while you're in the area — and that's where Vacation Rentals.com comes in to help.
Cape Cod has long been a summer vacation staple, since it's a great place to relax on the beach or play at amusement parks. In fact, it's so popular we've written up vacation guides for five of its most popular towns: Brewster, Chatham, Estham, Truro, and Wellfleet. If you go to Cape Cod, you can be sure you won't run out of things to do. And in addition to being a fun place for a traditional summer vacation, Cape Cod is also home to all sorts of whales! Travel out to sea with the Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown (a local favorite) and leave your whale-watching in the hands of professionals. These expeditions put you in place to see humpbacks, finbacks, minkes and more, plus the very endangered North Atlantic right whale. Rent a beach villa in Truro or a Wellfleet vacation condo (or stay close to the whale-watching headquarters with a Provincetown rental cottage) and you'll be set for the general fun and whale-watching vacation of a lifetime.
Cabo San Lucas
Baja California, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas is among Mexico's most shining jewels, perfect for relaxing in the sun or rocking out at night. If you like fishing, Cabo will be like paradise for you, and if you'd rather spend your days on the beach and your nights exploring the town, you can't find a better place. Cabo San Lucas has something for everybody in your family and it will definitely keep you busy. But if you escape winter's chill and come between January and March (which is a great idea, since Cabo's weather is beautiful year-round), you can catch sight of gray whales traveling here; Cabo is one of their favorite places for their babies to be born. While gray whales aren't as rare as endangered species or as famous as humpbacks, they tend to swim near the shore, which means you might see them spouting or breaching even from land. What's more romantic or breathtaking than sitting on the porch of your Cabo San Lucas rental villa while the sun sets over distant gray whales? If you want to see them up close, take a charter boat out — you might even get the chance to touch one!
Glacier Bay National Park
Alaska's inviting summer weather and gorgeous wilderness are both huge draws for outdoors-loving families, and Glacier Bay is a particularly interesting place to visit in Alaska. Walk the trails left behind in the wake of ancient glaciers and be awed by nature's beauty. Here you can see grizzly-filled forests, whitewater raft down wild rivers, fish with nothing but wilderness on all sides — or try to catch a glimpse of the humpbacks who make Glacier Bay their summer home. You and your family (or just you) can take a small charter boat out or even just your own kayak to search for these gentle giants. Glacier Bay is also a prime camping location, so if your family likes to get away from it all and stay there, you'll love it here.
February-April / May-September
Enjoy a slightly more urban vacation in lovely Santa Barbara, enjoying the beach when you're not soaking up the city's rich and diverse arts culture. Santa Barbara is a classical music haven that also boasts stunning Spanish architecture, so whether you're a fan of music or history, you'll have a great time attending concerts or touring the many well-kept missions here. Come to Santa Barbara and you'll find yourself surrounded by parks, too, including ones lining the Santa Barbara Channel, a key point along the migration routes of several distinct varieties of whales! Visit between February and April to catch California grey whales, or time your vacation over summertime between May and September for the chance to see blue whales, minke whales and humpbacks. For the best vacation spring or summer, stay in a Santa Barbara condo near the beach and enjoy everything this varied town has to offer.
Although Hawaii is a top vacation destination, Kihei is somewhat less popular, which means it's more affordable than most of the rest of Maui. Read our Kihei vacation guide to learn more about planning the perfect Kihei vacation. There's a little something for everyone here: beautiful beaches, incredible shopping, world-class golfing, and of course whale watching! At the Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Kihei, you can learn all about these magnificent endangered creatures, hear whale songs and even catch sight of the whales themselves if you come during the whale season. The peak of the season is from February to March, but you'll probably see whales as early as December or as late as April. You might not even need to take a boat tour, since you'll see so many whales from the shore. Find a Kihei vacation villa to accommodate your family and you'll be set to enjoy your Kihei vacation to the fullest.