I don’t know what your experiences have been like when it comes to spotting whales, but for me mostly all I see is the splash as the whale goes back under water!
Oh sure, I’ve seen a few whales over the years. Mostly at San Diego SeaWorld! Years ago I was on a helicopter tour over Maui and we saw a grey whale near the shore. My parents used to have a house in White Rock with a nice view of the pier and one day a grey whale was hanging out there. I pulled out the binoculars but I didn’t see the whale so much as I saw it spouting off water.
The splash I see as the whale goes below the surface would be our resident killer whales off the British Columbia and Alaska coast.
I was staying at the Ester Lee Motel in Lincoln City, and with their wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean, there’s always a possibility of spotting a passing whale. The first night I stayed at the Ester Lee, I saw some shrimp boats with their bait lights shining off the Pacific. Not whales, but I did find the boats interesting because I hadn’t realized the bay was a shrimp mecca.
I decided to spend my first full day in Lincoln City driving 30 miles down the coast to Newport. That makes sense, hunh?! Originally I’d planned to stop in Newport the following day after checking out of the Ester Lee, and be driving down to Coos Bay, but I made a last minute decision to spend a few hours in Newport and then I could skip it as I drove further south. I planned to stop and check out the Devil’s Punchbowl, about 6 miles north of Newport, but I sort of made a wrong turn.
Good weather at Cape Foulweather
At almost the last minute I spotted the sign for the Cape Foulweather scenic outlook. Thinking that was where Devil’s Punchbowl was located, I took the turn off. Devil’s Punchbowl is a couple of minutes south, but is easily reached from a road at Cape Foulweather.
As I’m driving towards the outlook I notice a sign pointing where RVs can park. This becomes important in about 15 seconds when I get to the parking lot for Cape Foulweather and it’s clearly marked “no RVs”. Sure enough there’s a truck towing a trailer that looks like he’s attempting a U-turn here. What’s even more embarrassing – British Columbia license plates!
Captain Cook named this place Cape Foulweather because he arrived on a very bad stormy day. Luck was with me and I enjoyed a bright, sunny day. Apparently 100mph winds are not unusual in this area.
I parked near the gift shop and join the people hanging out at the railing looking at the Pacific Ocean. Almost right away one of the tourists informs me there’s a whale in the kelp right below our cliff.
Yay! I see a Whale!
I pull out my camera and start snapping pictures of this beautiful creature. It then becomes obvious that there are two other grey whales nearby, spouting water through their blowholes. There may have even been a fourth whale. I couldn’t tell if that third whale had just moved around a bit underwater. Those kelp beds must be a good hunting ground for the whales.
I stayed here easily for half an hour, whale spotting and checking out the gift shop. If you’re in the Newport or Lincoln City areas, definitely stop and check out the outlook viewpoint at Cape Foulweather. You never know. It might be your best whale spotting opportunity on the Oregon Coast!
Check out my video of the grey whales at Cape Foulweather, Oregon and you’ll see I managed more than a few splashes.