Last Updated on February 27, 2023 by MacNaughtan
The thought of going whale watching in Newfoundland’s iceberg alley made me tingle with delight. Would I see some whales? What about Puffins? Maybe an iceberg, even though it’s late in the season? I didn’t know if I would see any of them, but the very thought of maybe seeing something was enough to get me excited.
I started with a boat tour with Twillingate Adventure Tours, led by Perry Young and his sister Kim. The boat, a 55-foot beat, carries roughly 40 people and departs four times a day. Our tour was 2.5 hrs in length and ventured around the scenic coastline, as we looked for whales. The boat was full (mostly seniors on an adventure caravan tour), which meant that once I found a place to stand, I stayed there for fear of being pushed out should a whale be spotted.
We were told one could find humpbacks, orcas, fin, and minke whales, in the waters around Twillingate Islands, and sure enough, about an hour after our tour started, we spotted two minke whales. Yay! Unfortunately, there were a little far off, and getting a good shot was rather difficult.
It was interesting to watch the two of them swim around (there is only one in the photo as one would surface immediately after the other had gone back under). After about 15-20 mins the whales disappeared and our tour continued along the coastline, taking in some of the scenic coves before returning to dock in Twillingate.
After docking back in Twillingate I decided to check out another boat tour. One that came recommended by my friend Candice Walsh after she participated in a tour with the sister company in St. John’s. That being said this wasn’t going to be a boat tour similar to the one I had just completed, no, this was going to be a boat tour on a zodiac! It’s a totally different experience. Where the first tour accommodated up to 40 people, my tour with Close Encounters maxed out at 12, and on the day I took their tour there were only four of us. Score!
Have you ever ridden in a zodiac? OMG, I swear there were times when I thought Grant was purposely looking for big waves to cut through (he wasn’t of course). I sat near the front, camera in one hand, and bracing myself with the other. As Grant took us out into open water we started looking for the telltale signs of whale activity, spouts of water from whales breaching. Each of us scanned the horizon, and whenever we thought we saw something Grant would stop the zodiac, grab his binoculars, and check it out.
Most of the time we were completely wrong (like 99.9% of the time). That being said, we did see PUFFINS! It’s an exciting thing as I was told that Puffins don’t really hang out in Twillingate. I was dying to get a close-up, but Puffins are kind of shy, and whenever we tried to get closer the puffin would panic, try to fly, panic some more, then just give up and dive underwater. It. Was. Hilarious.
OMG puffins are so freaking cute. I loved watching their little butts wiggle in the water as they swim around. Adorable.
Our whale encounter was a lot more difficult than our puffin encounter (and for the record, I saw like 10 of them), but near the end of our tour, we did see a Fin whale! Okay, it was a little far away and because there were other boats circling we couldn’t get too close, but I saw it!
Whales are fickle creatures, but when encounters happen, being on the zodiac vs one of the larger vessels makes all the difference. Here is a rather amazing video Grant shot of humpback whales who FOLLOWED the zodiac! Wow.
Travelling to Twillingate in June and July are probably the best times for spotting icebergs, and whales… well whale encounters can happen at any time.
After my morning and afternoon of boat tours I was chilled and in need of a very HOT shower back at All Season’s B&B before I could even think of going out to snap photos, and eat dinner. Twillingate has been full of surprises and I can almost see myself spending a summer here. Can you imagine whale watching EVERY DAY?! I swear Grant has the best job in the world.