Get on a boat!

Watching from land is great, but nothing compares to getting out on the water and experiencing whales in their domain.

Our Recommendations

And what they mean

The whale watching charters listen on this page are outfits that either members of The Spout or our trusted colleagues have personally been on whale watches with. In order for us to make a recommendation, we want charters to meet certain criteria:

  • Boat operators keep a respectful distance from whales and act appropriately when whales approach them.

  • Staff generally conveys accurate information about whales. We can look the other way when it comes to things like calling the Pacific Feeding Group “residents.”

  • Captains/Operators adhere to good safety practices by avoiding dangerous ocean conditions, providing necessary safety equipment, etc.

Worried about sea sickness?
Try A Zodiac!

Zodiacs offers a few important benefits over larger boats. When watching whales, you'll often be stopped in the same place for longer periods of time. Large boats tend to roll from side-to-side which causes motion sickness for a lot of people. Zodiacs tend to ride waves better and provide a more stable ride. Large boats also typically rely on diesel engines, which emit fumes that sometimes make people nauseous as opposed to zodiacs which use gas engines.

Now, let's get you out on the water.

The Whale's Tail

  • Depoe Bay, Oregon

Offering both 60 and 90 minute trips from their two almost new Zodiacs, The Whale’s Tail has long been our favorite charter for whale watching on the entire Oregon coast.

Benefits:

  • All Zodiacs
  • Newest Boats On The Coast
  • Very Experienced Captains
  • Easy Online Booking

Whale Research EcoExcursions

  • Depoe Bay, Oregon

With a fleet of four zodiacs, EcoExcursions is able to take lots of people out on their 90 minute whale watching tours. Operated by a marine biologist, this is your best option for those looking to learn about whales.

Benefits:

  • All Zodiacs
  • More zodiacs than anybody
  • Most accurate whale info
  • Gift Shop/Museum

Dockside Charters

  • Depoe Bay, Oregon

Dockside Charters has been taking folks out whale watching on their flagship, The Samson, for decades. Their large boats provide plenty of room and are accessible by a ramp.

Benefits:

  • Large, spacious boats
  • Easy access
  • Very Experienced Captains
  • Parking Lot, Office w/ Bathrooms

South Coast Tours

  • Port Orford, Oregon

South Coast Tours does operate a zodiac, but they can provide something that no other outfitter on the Oregon coast can; the opportunity to kayak or stand up paddle board with whales in protected coves.

Benefits:

  • Zodiac, kayak, or SUP trips
  • Easy online booking
  • Typically better weather
  • Less crowded area

Frequently Asked Questions

About our criteria and whale watching boats in general

Per the American Cetacean Society’s Whale Safe Regulations and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, boats should stay 100 yards from whales. When whales approach boats it’s important that the boat doesn’t make a sudden, drastic move as it could unintentionally strike the whale. Once the whale starts to move away, the boat should then use the opportunity to re-establish the 100 yard separation.

It’s not uncommon to hear some of the whale boat captains to refer to whales seen during the summer as “resident whales.” Over the years, we’ve heard the term change from residents, to summer residents, to the now more correct term of “Pacific Feeding Group.” This term refers to whales that spend the summer months off the Oregon coast feeding.

As mentioned above, the businesses we list are those that we have personal experience with or we have trusted colleagues with experience. If a business is not listed, it’s more likely that we just don’t have any experience with them yet. As of right now, we are not planning on making a list of charters to avoid, but we will if we hear anything that merits warning people.

Look, we’ll be honest. We are very opinionated when it comes to certain thing that are generally accepted as partisan issues. Chances are we would not agree with the political leanings of some of these businesses. But this is about getting people excited about whales, so we will look past that as long as we don’t think that someone’s affiliations or opinions are working against our cause. 

We’ve collectively been on hundreds of trips on boats large and small in calm and rough ocean conditions. The majority of sea sicknesses have been on larger boats, typically when they rock from side to side. There are lots of remedies out there: dramamine, wrist bands, etc. We’ve had the best results with natural ginger chews like these.

If you want to share an experience either positive or negative, feel free to email erik@thespout.org with the details.

These charters should ensure a great trip

Now learn a bit more about whales and how to find them.

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