Kayaking With Killer Whales: 7 Breathtaking Spots & More

Imagine the stunning beauty of the ocean surrounding you, and suddenly, a massive shadow emerges from beneath the waves—it’s the mighty killer whale, also known as the orca!

The excitement is unconditional, and this awe-inspiring encounter has become a dream for many kayakers.

But where can you easily encounter killer whales while kayaking? And you might wonder if it’s safe to kayak alongside these majestic mammals.

In this article, we’ll unveil the best places to experience the thrill of kayaking with killer whales up close. You’ll learn how to make your dream come true while keeping the well-being of these majestic beings in mind.

And we’re not stopping there! We’ll also give you the lowdown on what NOT to do when you find yourself in the whales’ territory because we want to ensure everyone has an unforgettable experience while showing respect for their space.

So buckle up, folks—it will be one wild ride!

Discussing Why Kayaking With Killer Whales.

Why Kayaking With Killer Whales – In The WILD?

Going kayaking with killer whales or orcas can be super exciting and fun. They are majestic, intelligent creatures known for their strength and complex social structures. Encountering killer whales in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Instead of watching the whales from a far-off boat, when you’re kayaking, you’re right there in the water with them. You’re not just watching; you’re a part of the action.

It’s like a dance party between your kayak and the whales. / It’s like being invited to a dance party with the whales.

As you paddle through the pristine waters, you become part of their world! This offers an unparalleled connection with wildlife and wilderness.

You feel so free and adventurous exploring where the whales live. These smart whales have ways of living together and catching fish that are interesting to watch. Seeing them team up to catch fish or talk to each other with special sounds is so cool.

Every time you see them, you’ll learn something new, and you’ll end up admiring these amazing creatures even more.

Exploring Best Places to Go Kayaking With Killer Whales/Orcas.

The 7 Best Places to Go Kayaking With Killer Whales/Orcas

From the rugged coastlines of the Pacific Northwest to the icy waters of the Arctic, these awe-inspiring destinations promise extraordinary encounters with the majestic marine predators – killer whales, also known as orcas.  

San Juan Islands, Washington

Kayaking with killer whales in San Juan Islands.

The San Juan Islands are a group of islands in Washington, and they’re a super cool place to see orcas, which are also known as killer whales! These islands have really pretty scenery with forests, clear blue waters, and rocky shores.

When you’re out there on the water, you can see orcas swim and jump right next to your kayak. These islands are famous because you can often see orcas jumping out of the water and diving back in.

It’s a truly humbling experience to witness these apex predators in action. You can kayak any time of the year, but morning is best for encountering them at the San Juan Islands.

With kayak tours available throughout the year, you can plan your visit to coincide with peak orca activity.

Johnstone Strait, British Columbia

It’s second on the list. 

Johnstone Strait – a big, beautiful stretch of water in British Columbia, Canada. It’s known for being a place where you can see many different types of killer whales, or “orcas,” right from your kayak. How cool is that?

While you’re out on the water, you might run into a bunch of killer whales. Some live there all the time and hang out in big family groups called pods. Others are just passing through in smaller groups, looking for food.

One of the best parts about kayaking here is getting to see how the orcas hunt and eat. There’s a protected ecological reserve in the strait called Robson Bight, where the orcas love to catch salmon.

Just think about how exciting it would be to be close enough to watch them show off their hunting skills!

Johnstone Strait is an amazing place to connect with nature, especially when you want to kayak with killer whales and other marine giants.

But remember, it’s important to respect the whales and their space. That means not getting too close to them to make sure they don’t get stressed out or have their usual behavior interrupted.

Orcas kayaking in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia.

In between spotting orcas, you’ll also get to enjoy awesome views of pretty coastlines and forests. The peaceful surroundings make the whole adventure even more special.

Don’t worry if you’re new to kayaking or if you’re already a pro at it. There are lots of different ways to explore Johnstone Strait, with guided tours and places to rent kayaks. That way, you can pick what works best for you and have a great time out on the water!

Valdez, Alaska

Nestled on the eastern side of Alaska’s rugged land, Valdez is a hidden gem for those seeking an extraordinary kayaking experience with awe-inspiring killer whales.

With its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, Valdez offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to paddle alongside these giants.

And if you love nature and wildlife, you’llValdez’ll blow you away.

Valdez isn’t more than just a regular trip. It’s an experience that will give you memories to treasure forever. You’llBeautiful landscapes surround you, and you have the chance to kayak with killer whales.

Imagine paddling in a kayak through clear waters, with stunning mountains covered in snow and beautiful forests all around you. The scenery is like something out of a picture book, and the sound of the waves will keep you company on your journey.

The waters here are full of nutrients that attract these amazing creatures as they migrate along the coast. If you’re lucky, you might even see them jumping out of the water or hear their haunting calls echo through the fjords!

To make your kayaking experience even better, you can join guided tours led by local experts. They know a lot about killer whales and the area’s ecosystem. So they can keep you safe and teach you interesting things about these fascinating creatures.

Valdez isn’t just about kayaking. There are plenty of other things to do for people who love the outdoors. You can go hiking in the lush forests, try fishing in pristine rivers, or take a tour to see glaciers up close. The possibilities are endless in this untouched wilderness.

While you’re on the trip, keep an eye out for other wildlife too. You might see bald eagles flying above you or seals resting on rocks. There’s so much to see and discover in this region, and it’ll make your adventure even more exciting.

Tromsø, Norway

Next is Tromsø.

Located in northern Norway, this picturesque city is surrounded by stunning fjords and breathtaking landscapes, making it the perfect destination for a thrilling kayak trip. It’s a dream place for adventurers who love kayaking and want to see killer whales up close.

Imagine paddling in a kayak through bright blue water surrounded by beautiful mountains and hills. You can encounter killer whales swimming right next to you!

At night, you can see the Northern Lights. They are like a colorful light show in the sky, created by nature. It’s like magic!

Traditional Sami tents in Tromso, Norway.

Planning a trip to Tromsø is also fun. You can stay in cute little cabins or traditional Sami tents, kind of like camping but cozier. These places are right in the middle of nature, making you feel like you’re a part of the wild Arctic.

There are a lot of different routes you can take when you go kayaking in Tromsø. The most popular one is through Kvaløyvågen Bay. Here, you can kayak through small waterways and discover hidden spots while keeping an eye out for killer whales.

Skjervøy is another. You get to see amazing views of mountains covered in snow and rough coastlines. This place is known for lots of marine life, including seals, birds, and killer whales.

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Vancouver Island is an amazing place in Canada where you can experience kayaking with killer whales. It’s fifth on the list.

When you go kayaking along the shores of Vancouver Island, you can see wild killer whales up close.

While you’re kayaking, you’ll also get to see the killer whales doing unconditional things. They might jump out of the water or hit their tails on the surface, which is really exciting to watch. It’s like they’re showing off their natural behaviors in their own home.

Besides seeing killer whales, there’s so much more to explore in the waters around Vancouver Island. You can encounter seals, sea lions, dolphins, and porpoises, which are all different kinds of marine animals. It’s like being in a colorful and lively world where everything is connected.

One of the coolest things about Vancouver Island is that orcas often come close to the kayaks. They are naturally curious, so they might swim up to you to take a look. This gives you a special connection with these amazing animals that few people experience.

Lofoten Islands, Norway

It’s sixth on our list.

The islands are quiet and peaceful, making it a great place to see wild killer whales in their natural home. Everything around you is so untouched and beautiful that you feel part of something special.

The Lofoten Islands have a lot of fish in the water, which is why killer whales like to come here. They eat fish as their main food and are attracted to this area. As you go kayaking, you might also see other sea animals like seals, porpoises, and seabirds that live in this place.

Going kayaking with killer whales is a big adventure, but it’s also important to remember that they are wild animals. So, it’s important to keep a safe distance from them and not do anything that could scare or bother them.

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is the final one.

It’s a top destination in New Zealand where you can kayak right next to killer whales.

Kaikoura is beautiful. It has mountains and bright blue water. It’s so peaceful and beautiful, and that’s another reason why people from all over the world love to visit.

You might also spot dolphins playing in the water or big humpback whales leaping out of the water in the distance. There are so many different types of sea animals there, it makes every second in your kayak super exciting.

In Kaikoura, you also get to learn about the Maori people, the original people of New Zealand. They have a special connection with the sea and its creatures and can make your adventure even more special.

If you’re new here, you need to become more familiar with Kaikoura. So it’s a good idea to go with a tour guide. As they can help make sure you encounter them and stay safe.

7 Things Not To Do When You’re Kayaking Around Killer Whales

There ain’t many things in this world that give you a chance to rub elbows and match the thrill of paddling around the killer whales.

But remember, those beautiful creatures aren’t just the stars of a Sunday night nature show! They’re wild, they’re unpredictable, and they deserve our respect.

So before you go kayaking with killer whales, I want to share some important things you shouldn’t do during your trip. It’s not just about keeping yourself safe but also about making sure these magnificent animals can live peacefully without being bothered by us.

Don’t turn a blind eye to regulations

The rules aren’t there for show, folks. People who know a thing or two about these magnificent beasts set regulations. It’s mostly about keeping a safe distance. NOAA recommends 100 yards, but you should also check for local laws for specifics. It isn’t just about your safety but also about the well-being of these creatures.

Don’t go chasing whales

That’s right! Don’t you be pursuing their killer whales? Orcas are curious beings. If they want to check you out, they’ll come ’round your way. So chasing them? It’s a bad idea, my friend. 

It causes them stress and can alter their natural behavior. So, do chase them while kayaking alongside them.

Don’t go hollering and whooping

We know you’re excited, but remember, this isn’t a rodeo. Loud noises can disturb the whales, especially if they’re hunting or resting. We need to make sure their routine runs smoothly.

Never Ever FEED Them

As tempting as it might be, don’t toss any grub their way. Orcas need to keep their hunting skills sharp, and your beef jerky isn’t going to cut it! 

Feeding them can make them associate humans with food, and that’s a can of worms you don’t want to open.

Don’t throw caution to the wind

If you see a bunch of Orcas acting a little ornery, it’s best to back off and give them some space. They may be hunting or teaching their young to hunt. Please respect their privacy.

Don’t get in a flap

If you fall into the water, don’t panic. Instead of flailing around like a chicken with its head cut off, stay calm, and get back on your kayak as soon as possible. Your calm demeanor will avoid attracting undue attention.

Don’t paddle like a house a fire

If you find yourself close to these killer whales, don’t go all guns blazing and try to get away. Instead, float calmly and wait for them to pass. Paddling vigorously can make you seem like an interesting plaything, and trust me, and you don’t want that.

A five-Step plan for choosing a kayak tour for encountering killer whales

If you’re all into paddling alongside these beautiful creatures of the sea, a killer whale orca, a kayak tour can surely be one powerful adventure.

But there are quite a few things you need to take into account to ensure you have a fun, safe, and respectful experience.

Here’s a five-step plan for picking out a kayak tour for encountering killer whales.

Experience and Safety

Discussing the importance of experience and safety for whales kayaking.

First and foremost, experience and safety. You need to make sure you’re booking with a reputable tour company. Ask them about their safety record, equipment, and procedures.

They should provide you with a solid orientation before you hit the water. If they’re lax on safety, give them the boot.

You also want to make sure they’ve got experienced guides who know the whales’ behaviors, the local waters, and how to handle a kayak.

Trip Timing

Next up, consider the timing. It ain’t-could be better to turn up when the whales have other plans. Killer whales have migration patterns, so you’ll want to choose a tour that coincides with these.

Some locations have resident orcas, but their presence can still be seasonal. So, do your homework and don’t take advantage of the boat.

Group Size

Thirdly, their group size. Some prefer a smaller, more personalized tour, while others are happy to roll with a larger crowd. Both have their pros and cons.

Smaller groups can be less intrusive to the wildlife and offer a more intimate experience, but they can also cost more.


Next, consider the tour’s approach to eco-friendly practices and respecting wildlife. You don’t want to avoid being part of a crowd that’s badgering these creatures or messing up their natural environment. Look for operators who adhere to responsible whale-watching guidelines and practices. You’re there to admire, not to disturb.

Your own kayaking skills

Lastly, take into account your own kayaking skills. Some tours require a certain level of experience or fitness. If you’re new to the game, look for beginner-friendly tours. No shame in starting slow, we are all going to start somewhere.

One more thing, don’t-remember to pack your sense of adventure and respect for the wildlife. You’re about to witness some of Mother Nature’s most magnificent critters in their natural habitat. It’s a privilege, mate, so enjoy every second.

Learn More

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Go Kayaking With Killer Whales?

The best time of year for kayaking with killer whales varies depending on the location. Generally, summer months offer more favorable weather conditions and increased chances of encountering these marine mammals. Researching specific destinations will provide insight into their peak whale-watching seasons.

Is It Safe To Kayak With Killer Whales?

Kayaking with killer whales can be safe if proper precautions are taken. So, it’s important to choose reputable tour operators who prioritize safety and follow guidelines for responsible wildlife viewing is important. Following the instructions of experienced guides and maintaining a respectful distance from the animals is crucial. Check out this article for details – Is It Safe To Kayak With Orcas?

How Close Can You Get To Killer Whales While Kayaking?

It is recommended to keep a minimum distance of 100 yards (91 meters) from killer whales when kayaking. This ensures both your safety and the well-being of the animals. Approaching too closely may disturb or stress them, which should be avoided at all costs.

Can I Take Photos While Kayaking With Killer Whales?

Yes! Taking photos while kayaking with killer whales can help capture incredible moments and memories. However, it’s important to remember not to disturb the animals by getting too close or using flash photography as it may startle or harm them.

Final Words

Lastly, kayaking with killer whales is an exhilarating opportunity to connect with nature’s most awe-inspiring creatures. The thrill of being in close proximity to these majestic animals is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. So, if you’re seeking an adventure, plan your trip well to maximize the chances of encountering killer whales in their natural habitat.

About Addison

Hark! Fellow seekers of adventure! 

I'm Addison, a passionate adventurer from Oregon's captivating Pacific Northwest. Alongside my brother Ronin, we founded PaddleWiggle, a kayaking website. On my page, you'll find thrilling stories of my kayaking expeditions.

So, join me as I explore wild rivers and hidden coves, sharing the raw beauty of nature through PaddleWiggle's expedition section.

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