Experience the thrill of a lifetime as you embark on a journey to witness the majestic beauty of whales in their natural habitat. Nestled along the stunning Oregon coast, Depoe Bay offers an unforgettable whale-watching experience that will leave you in awe. Whale watching in Depoe Bay is unlike any other, as this charming coastal town is known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast.”
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a wildlife lover, or simply seeking an escape from everyday life, whale watching in Depoe Bay is an adventure you won’t want to miss. So grab your binoculars, bring your sense of wonder, and get ready for an experience that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
The best time to go whale watching in Depoe Bay
Depoe Bay is an almost year-round destination for whale-watching enthusiasts. However, in Depoe Bay, the best whale watching is possibly June through October, when the resident pod of gray whales calls Depoe Bay home.
During the winter months of December through February as well as the spring months of March through May, you can witness the migration of hundreds of gray whales.
In the winter, the gray whales migrate south from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska to the warm, shallow lagoons of Baja, California. This is a prime time to witness their journey as they pass by Depoe Bay in mid-December through mid-January.
In the spring, they migrate back north to Alaska, again, passing by Depoe Bay in large numbers from late March to mid-May.
Whatever season you decide to visit, whale watching in Depoe Bay promises an unforgettable experience with these majestic sea creatures.
Whale species commonly found in Depoe Bay
Depoe Bay is home to a variety of whale species that can be spotted throughout the year. The most common sightings include gray whales, humpback whales, orcas, and blue whales.
The gray whales are the stars of the show during their annual migration, with hundreds passing by Depoe Bay each day. These gentle giants can reach lengths of up to 50 feet and are known for their distinctive blow, which shoots up to 15 feet in the air.
Depoe Bay also is home to a resident pod of gray whales, often seen only 1/2 mile out from shore, from June through October. These are the whales we saw on our tour, and although we also saw seals and sea lions, we didn’t see any other whale species.
Humpback whales are said to be another common sight in Depoe Bay, known for their acrobatic displays and haunting songs.
Orcas, or “killer whales”, are less frequently seen but a thrill to encounter if you’re one of the lucky ones.
How to prepare for whale-watching in Depoe Bay, Oregon
Before embarking on a whale-watching trip in Depoe Bay, it’s important to come prepared to make the most of your experience.
First and foremost, dress appropriately for the weather. The coastal climate can be unpredictable, so it’s best to wear layers that can be easily added or removed as needed.
We went to Depoe Bay in mid-July – it was our first time on the Pacific Coast, and we were shocked when we realized how cold it was on the beach!
You may want to bring binoculars, especially if you plan to watch for whales from the shore. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture those unforgettable moments! I brought a telephoto lens on our boat ride to make sure I could get a closer photo.
Depending on whether you book a boat tour, and which company you book with, you may want a rain jacket as well. We did get some splashes in the boat with us!
We chose to go with Whale Research EcoExcursions and were so happy with them! Carrie, a marine biologist, has been studying Depoe Bay’s gray whales for over 30 years and it’s clear how much she cares about them. She recognized each whale by name as it came to the surface, even if it was just a tail or bit of back coming up.
Another great thing about the EcoExcursions tours is that they use zodiac boats, which people rarely get seasick on due to their low center of gravity and the fact that they don’t rock side to side. Carrie was so nice when she noticed I had a “real” camera with me, she made sure to seat me in the best place for taking photos.
She also made sure any kids would have a good view (although Ella fell asleep before any whales were seen!)
Be sure to check the weather and sea conditions before your trip and follow any instructions or guidelines provided by the tour operator. By being prepared, you can make the most of your whale-watching adventure in Depoe Bay.
If you don’t plan to get out on the water, you can watch for whales from the shore. The OPRD Whale Watching Center is a good place to spot whales from.
Sustainability and responsible whale watching practices
Whale watching is a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of these amazing sea giants.
However, it’s important to participate in this activity responsibly to ensure the long-term well-being of the whales and their habitats. When choosing a whale-watching tour operator, opt for companies that prioritize sustainable practices and adhere to guidelines established by organizations such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
These guidelines include maintaining a safe distance from the whales, avoiding sudden changes in speed or direction that could startle or disturb them, and minimizing noise and pollution.
Additionally, it’s crucial to never feed or attempt to touch the whales, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and compromise their health. The EcoExcursions captains will never drive their boats right up to a whale. If one wants to come close as you sit and idle, they can do that on their own will – and a couple did!
By choosing responsible tour operators and following these guidelines, you can enjoy the wonders of whale watching while also protecting these incredible animals for future generations to enjoy.
Tips for capturing great photos of whales
Capturing the beauty of whales through photography can be a challenging endeavor.
Here are a few tips to help you capture photos you will be happy with during your whale-watching trip in Depoe Bay.
Firstly, use a telephoto zoom lens to get closer to the whales without disturbing them. I had a 70-300mm lens on my camera, and was happy with that range!
Secondly, be patient and observant. It may take some time to capture the perfect shot. Watch their behavior and anticipate their movements to increase your chances of getting the photo. Unfortunately, we weren’t one of the lucky ones to see a whale breach completely out of the water. Our captain said that was normal for these whales at this time.
Thirdly, pay attention to composition. Frame your shot with the surrounding landscape to provide context and evoke a sense of scale.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the moment. While capturing great photos is wonderful, it’s equally important to experience the magic of whale watching firsthand! So, take a few shots, but also take the time to simply be present in the moment and appreciate the beauty happening in front of you!
Other attractions and activities in Depoe Bay
While whale watching is undoubtedly the highlight of any trip to Depoe Bay, there are plenty of other attractions and activities to explore in this charming coastal town.
Take a stroll along the Depoe Bay Harbor – “the world’s smallest harbor” and spot sea lions basking in the sun.
Visit the Whale, Sea Life, and Shark Museum to learn more about the fascinating marine life found in the area.
Enjoy a leisurely walk along the scenic coastal trails or relax on the sandy shores of the nearby beaches.
Depoe Bay is also home to a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants, where you can indulge in delicious seafood while enjoying stunning ocean views. We ate at Chowder Bowl in nearby Newport on our way out of town, and I would definitely recommend it.
If you’re looking for a sandy beach, Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area is what you’re looking for. It’s lined with cliffs and is a beautiful place to relax.
The Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is another place to explore. We didn’t get to see it, but I really wish we did! During storms, water from the ocean slams into a hollow rock formation shaped like a huge punch bowl, where it foams and swirls around. It is also said to be a good whale-watching area, as well as a good spot to go tide-pooling.
With so much to see and do, the Depoe Bay area offers a coastal experience that will satisfy everyone’s interests.
Whale watching in Depoe Bay, Oregon, is a truly unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of the natural world.
Whether you visit during the gray whale migration or in the summer months to see the resident whales, Depoe Bay offers a unique opportunity to witness these beautiful animals up close.
As you prepare for your whale-watching adventure, remember to dress appropriately, bring a camera, and be prepared to be patient.
Capture the magic while also taking the time to simply be present and enjoy the moment.
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