Whale Watching

Year-Round Sightings off Oregon's Northern Coast

Every year, approximately 18,000 Pacific Gray Whales make their migration from the cold waters of Alaska to their breeding grounds in Baja, California, taking them directly past the Oregon coast. Thanks to this epic journey, visitors and locals are treated to fantastic viewing opportunities from mid-December through January and again from late March to June when the whales return home.


If you’re visiting outside that window, don’t worry! Tillamook County is one of the few places where whale watching is a year-round activity! Thanks to the roughly 200 Gray whales that remain in Oregon, there’s always an opportunity for a sighting, making your adventures on the water buzz with anticipation each time you go out. For all your Oregon Coast whale-watching info, check out the resources below.

Types of Whales along Oregon’s Northern Coast

The Pacific gray whale is the most commonly spotted species along Oregon’s coast. Recognized by their mottled gray skin, males can grow to around 46 feet and weigh up to 40 tons, with females being slightly larger. Besides these gentle giants, visitors may also encounter humpback whales as they make their way to Hawaii each winter, orcas, the minke whale, bottlenose dolphins, and even the rare blue whale, if you’re lucky!


Spotting Tips

For a fruitful whale-watching experience, knowing what to look for and when to look, can help you keep an eye out! Check out these helpful tips and indicators:   

  • Timing - The best time to scan the waters for whales is early in the morning when the sun is behind you. If the water is calm, even better!
  • The Spout – as you look out across the water, keep watch for a misty spray. When whales exhale, they shoot water up to 12 feet in the air making their presence known even from great distances.
  • The Spyhop – This is when whales peek their heads out of the water, likely to check their surroundings and listen for sounds above the water.
  • The Splash – Often following the slapping of the whale’s tail flukes on the surface, if you happen to miss the dive, looking out for the splash can help you hone in on a whale’s location.
Oregon Coast Whale Watching
Oregon Coast Whale Watching

Best Whale-Watching Tours

For an unforgettable experience on the water, several tour operators along the Oregon coast offer whale-watching adventures. Make the short drive to Depoe Bay and visit Whale’s Tail Charters or Dockside Charters and let their excellent staff treat you to the excursion of a lifetime. If you’re looking for viewing points you can get to on your own, Cape Lookout State Park has trails that lead along the coast, offering stunning views. Bring your binoculars so you can search the surface when you reach the summit.   


Whale-Watching Rules

The most important part of whale watching is to have respect for these magnificent creatures and their natural habitat. You should never try to touch or feed a whale. Not only is this not safe for you, but it can also cause harm to the animals as they can contract diseases from your touch. Likewise, feeding them can disrupt their digestion and lead to serious sickness.


When on the water, pay attention to the whale’s behavior, and never get too close. If you see a lot of water disruption or swimming patterns that change suddenly, it can be a sign of distress. Remember, though seeing a whale is an incredible experience, their safety and health is the most important thing, so knowing when to back up or leave altogether is vital. Lastly, limit your time to under an hour. Prolonged exposure to boats and the noise of spectators can disrupt the whale’s communication with one another, their food supply, and migratory efforts.

Book Your Whale-Watching Vacation Today

Make your trip to Oregon’s northern coast seamless and memorable by booking your stay directly with Shore Thing Vacation Rentals. From rustic cabins to oceanfront houses, there’s something to fit every taste and budget. We also have pet-friendly options, so you can bring the whole family on your epic Oregon escape! Browse our collection of Oregon Coast vacation rentals to find the perfect place for you and your family. We can’t wait to welcome you to our piece of paradise.