Vacations

Whale Watching UK | Where to see Whales & Dolphins in the UK


Whale Watching UK? Surely that is the wrong title for this post. Whale Watching Sri Lanka works, as does Whale Watching Mexico but whale watching in the UK? There are no whales there surely? Well actually the UK is a great place to spot whales and dolphins. According to records, there are 29 dolphin and whale species in Britain. Some of the dolphin species found here are bottlenose, common, orca and the Risso’s dolphin. The whale species include humpback, sperm, fin and minke whales. You don’t have to travel far to observe animals in the wild. This is where you can see Whales and Dolphins in the UK.

Whale Watching UK
Whale Watching UK

Moray Firth, Scotland

Moray Firth, Scotland
Moray Firth, Scotland

The Moray Firth is home to Common Bottlenose Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises, Minke Whales, Grey Seals and Harbour Seals. I once adopted a Dolphin called Star who lived in the Moray Firth. This is probably one of the best areas to go whale and dolphin watching in the UK as it has a high success rate. The Bottlenose Dolphins here are some of the largest in the world. If you head to Chanonry Point especially on a rising tide, you might be lucky enough to see the dolphins feeding on salmon just a few metres away.

South West Cornwall, England

South West Cornwall, England
South West Cornwall, England

South West Cornwall is another great place to spot Whales and Dolphins. Common sightings include Short Beaked Common Dolphins, Minke Whale, Common Dolphins, Fin Whales, and Harbour Porpoises. In 2015 a Bowhead Whale was also spotted! Because of the Gulf Stream, Cornwall attracts other amazing wildlife like turtles, sharks (including the amazing Basking Shark), and Giant Ocean Sunfish.

Cardigan Bay, Wales

Cardigan Bay, Wales
Cardigan Bay, Wales

Cardigan Bay is famous for its Bottlenose Dolphin population. It is one of the best places in Europe to see dolphins, numbers can reach up to 300 which is also Europe’s largest known pod. Cardigan Bay is also home to Harbour Porpoise, Atlantic Grey Seals and a variety of birdlife. The Harbour Porpoises are visible from the shore, so grab yourself a beer and enjoy the show!

The Western Isles, Scotland

The Western Isles, Scotland
The Western Isles, Scotland

The Western Isles of Scotland is another great place for Whale Watching. In summer you can spot minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises, Risso’s dolphins, and short-beaked common dolphins. That’s not all! Keep an eye out for eagles, seals, and puffins. Imagine seeing all of them in one day! Make sure your camera is fully charged.

The Shetland Isles, Scotland

The Shetland Isles, Scotland
The Shetland Isles, Scotland

As you can see, Scotland is spoilt for choice when it comes to wildlife spotting. In The Shetland Isles, you might be lucky enough to spot harbour porpoises, common seals, grey seals, otters and even orcas. Since 1980, 18 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise have been recorded around Shetland. These include rarities such as the pygmy sperm whale and beluga whale. Humpback whales can be seen in most years.

Yorkshire, England

Yorkshire, England
Yorkshire, England

Whale watching in Yorkshire? Oh yes. Few people realise the North Sea boasts such a rich variety of sea life below the surface. In late summer, shoals of herring migrate to inshore waters of the Yorkshire coast to spawn. This attracts dolphins, sharks, porpoises and whales. Whitby is one of the best places in Yorkshire to go dolphin and whale spotting.

Norfolk, England

Norfolk, England
Norfolk, England

As it is the same sea and coast as Yorkshire it is not surprising that you can spot whales and sharks off the Norfolk coast. Who would have thought that just a few hours out of London there would be an area full of rich wildlife? Likely species to be seen off the Norfolk coast is the Harbour porpoise, grey and common seal, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Harbour Porpoise, and Minke Whale.

The Hebrides, Scotland

The Hebrides, Scotland
The Hebrides, Scotland

The Hebridean Waters are favoured with an abundance of Marine Wildlife. In these cold clean waters, you will find Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises, and Sharks. Some of the species spotted are Basking Sharks, Bottlenose Dolphins, Minke Whales, Orca, Humpback Whales, Long Finned Pilot Whales and the Sperm Whale.


Where to see whales and dolphins in the UK.
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As you can see the United Kingdom has quite a few spots to see Whales and Dolphins in the wild. I will never forget the first time I spotted Whales and Dolphins in their natural habitat. It is a magical experience and one that is addictive. The more you do it the more you want to carry on doing it.

When to Watch Dolphins and Whales in the UK

Whale and Dolphins are in British waters all year round. However, the best time to watch them is during spring and summer. Sightings are very common from April to November. In some areas, dolphins can be seen daily in summer.

Do you love the United Kingdom? Check out our other posts on the four nations:




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