Whale Watching in St Lucia, South Africa

High waves right before we went whale watching in St Lucia, South Africa

Never start off a whale watching trip by saying I never get seasick.

Despite looking at the high seas, I pressed my luck and said it anyway. I think you can imagine how the rest of the trip went.

Yes, predictably I did get sick, as did half of the other people on our boat. But despite getting sick, the whale watching trip I did in St. Lucia was one of the best whale watching trips I’ve ever done! Why you may ask?  Well for one, we actually saw whales.  You might think that’s a given on a whale watching trip, but not from my experience.  Not only did we see whales, but a small pod of migrating humpbacks stopped long enough to put on a show –  just meters from our boat, leaping out of the water and diving back in, their tails waving a temporary good-bye.

Humpback whale sightings offer the most incredible cure for sea sickness.

Within minutes of seeing them, I forgot I was sick. I continued to be amazed for a good 45 minutes.

I snapped photos like crazy, but quickly learned that a recovering stomach, rocky boat and big waves are not exactly ideal shooting conditions, as photo after photo turned out like this:
Whale spray, the actual whale missed by seconds while taking photos on a whale watching excursion in St. Lucia, South Africa

Always a second or two too late – although I must say my splash capturing skills are excellent 🙂

So I did the unthinkable for a travel blogger…..I put the camera away.  Instead of focusing on trying to get the perfect shot, I focused on the incredible whales that were just meters from me.

I’m so glad I did.

If you can’t give all your attention to one of the largest mammals on earth what will hold your attention?

REALLY experiencing the whales was so much more rewarding than experiencing them from behind a camera. The only actual shot I got  to show that there really were humpbacks was this one:
Humpback whale tail seen while whale watching in St. Lucia, South Africa
But I’m happy to share this one with you courtesy of Heritage Tours and Safaris:
Humpback Whale watching in St. Lucia, South Africa

Know Before You Go Whale Watching in St Lucia/iSimangliso Wetland Park:

  • Heritage Tours and Safaris offers a 2 hour whale watching excursions from June – November when humpbacks are migrating.
  • Whale sightings are virtually guaranteed during this time.
  • All whale watching excursions are weather dependent.  If the seas are too rough, your trip may be canceled.
  • Eat a light breakfast (I learned from experience).
  • Be sure to check out the Hippo and Croc Tour, iSimangaliso Eastern Shores Tour, and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve all located in or near iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • I recommend staying at Umlilo Lodge in St. Lucia.

Enjoyed this content? Please share:

About Author

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She's passionate about getting outdoors as often as possible and helping travellers do the same on their vacation in a sustainable way. She's Canadian and grew up in the Canadian Rockies but now lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her skiing or hiking in the mountains most weekends, hanging out with her cat or with her nose in a good book.


February 11, 2013
Whales are always so hard to capture in the wild! You really do just have to put the camera down and just enjoy these majestic creatures.
February 12, 2013
@Jennifer - Completely agree!
Sonja @ The {Happy} Travel Bug
February 11, 2013
I agree, you have EXCELLENT splash catching skills! We must have attended the same photography school. ;) What an awesome experience...sorry you didn't feel well.
February 12, 2013
@Sonja - Why thank you! Glad to know that I'm not the only one who attended that photography school ;)
February 11, 2013
Amazing shots! The sea looks rough though. I was seasick once in my life (I'm a sea person but that boat ride was bad!) and it was awful.
February 12, 2013
@Zhu - It was pretty rough. I think you can be a sea person and still get seasick as I thought I was a sea person too.
February 12, 2013
So awesome! I tried to go whale watching when I was in St. Lucia a few years ago but the weather was too bad and waters too choppy to go out. So I settled for a hippo tour. Wish I'd seen the whales!
February 12, 2013
@Megan - Oh no. The hippo tour is still pretty amazing though. I loved how much there was to do in St. Lucia.
February 12, 2013
Oh wow, what an experience! You're so right, sometimes you just have to make the most of the experience rather than try capture it. Sounds amazing - it's going on 'the list' :)
February 12, 2013
@Jenny - I used to be good at doing that, then I started travel blogging and now I'm terrible - always taking photos and forgetting to enjoy the moment.
February 15, 2013
Amazing shots! I've seen many whales before but never so up close - so close that you actually can see the barnacles on their skins. How cool!
February 16, 2013
@Jill - I love that shot too, wish I could say I had taken it, but you've seen the photos I took :)
February 25, 2013
To go whale watching might be at the top of my 'NEED to do before I die' list. I'm in such awe of these animals that are sooooo much bigger than us.
2 Digital Nomads
May 19, 2013
We felt the same many times when you have to choose between the camera and the animal, it's easier for us (we are 2 !). I hope we'll have the chance the see whales one day! Your photos are great. Ariane.
May 28, 2013
@2Digital Nomads - Definitely difficult, I try to balance it. I was traveling with my husband on this trip, but unfortunately he's not a photographer, will have to get him trained up, since it would be MUCH easier with two people.
May 29, 2013
Sounds fascinating. And a little bit scary - even though I never get seasick either:)

Leave a Reply