Pack your binoculars and a sense of adventure, and go in search of migrating Gray whales along the Oregon Coast. Catch a glimpse of Gray whales blowing, breaching and fluking as they pass by on their 12,000-mile (19,300-km) annual migration from the Arctic Ocean to the warm, calm bays of Mexico in the winter to birth their young. In the spring, observe their return journey north, where they spend the summer feeding in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.
WHEN TO GO
Approximately 18,000 whales cruise the coastline with prime whale watching in March, April, May, June and mid-December to mid-January. Smaller numbers can be spotted during the summer months and early fall.
There are about 200 whales that enjoy Oregon's mild weather so much they stay all summer long, feeding just offshore. Excellent whale watching can be had all along Oregon's 363-mile (584-km) coastline, so check out some of these great places to watch any time of year.
TIPS FROM THE OREGON WHALE WATCHING CENTER
- Morning light (with the sun at your back) is often helpful for spotting blows. 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.
- Anytime you are along the ocean shoreline, stay a safe distance from the shore break and be alert for sneaker waves, which may come in farther then expected.
WHERE TO GO
Watch for whales from cozy oceanfront restaurants and hotels or at many roadside turnouts.
Ideal outdoor vantage points include:
- Sea Lion Caves Turnout
- Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint
- Devil's Churn Viewpoint
- Cape Perpetua - the highest point on the Oregon Coast
- Cook's Chasm Turnout (Yachats)
At the Sea Lion Caves in spring and summer, spot sea lions on outside ledges, clustered in family units consisting of a bull and harems of 15 to 30 cows and their young. Occasional and infrequently seen Killer Whales patrol the edges of the sea lion territory.