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a whale jumping out of the water

Although Christmas and New Year has passed and the festivities are over, here in the Dominican Republic we are excited for January as we await some eagerly anticipated visitors- Humpback Whales! Every year, between January and March, the island is blessed to host three to five thousand whales as they migrate to the Samana bay to mate and give birth. One of three breeding grounds in the North Atlantic, visitors to Punta Cana can catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures with specially licensed tours that operate in the bay.

What Can I Expect to See On a Tour?

You’ll usually travel from your hotel in Punta Cana to Miches, where you will board a catamaran which will sail into the bay. Although whale sightings are never 100% guaranteed as they are wild creatures and Captains are mindful not to disturb them during this important season, often you’ll find that the whales are quite happy to be around the boat! The Dominican government will only allow licensed whale watching boats in the bay during their breeding season, so they feel safe and secure and seem to enjoy showing off to their visitors. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a whale breaching, tail slapping, fin slapping, and maybe even a baby or two!

Whale watching Captains are extremely skilled and stay in constant contact with other whale watching boats in the bay that day, so you’ll often sail to different points in the bay to give the best possibility of a sighting. If another boat catches sight, you’ll enjoy an exhilarating ride to the same area so you too will catch a glimpse! These huge mammals are indeed an impressive sight, and usually the whole boat is unified in oohs! and ahhhs! as they dance around you, often with the males putting on an impressive display to their prospective mates. This once in a lifetime trip is an incredible experience for all ages!

Humpback Whale Facts

-Adult whales range in length from 12 to 16 meters (39 to 52 feet) and weigh around 25 to 30 metric tons. Females are slightly larger than males.

-The males produce a complex song which changes each breeding season. The song lasts 20 to 30 minutes and is repeated for as long as 24 hours at a time!

– Whales migrate around 25,000 km each year (16,000 miles). They feed in Polar Regions and spend breeding season in warmer waters. During breeding season they fast and live off their fat reserves.

– Their black and white tail fin can be up to a third of their body length. Each tail is unique to each individual whale, and they are used to identify individuals for research purposes

– The lifespan of the humpback whale is 45 to 100 years

-For such a large creature, they eat tiny food, but lots of it! Krill, juvenile salmon, herring are some of the delicious items on their menu!

– Whales are mammals and therefore need to breathe, they come to the surface and use their blowholes which you’ll often see when visiting them in the Samana bay.

– Whales are very friendly and interact with many other species such as bottlenose dolphins and other species of whales. It’s not unusual to see dolphins around a female whale and her calf!


Let’s go to see the whales! Let us know your experiences of whale watching in the Dominican Republic!