Churchill, Canada, is known for its large polar bear population, as the bears draw thousands of tourists each year. However, it’s also home to a lesser-known white star: the beluga whale.
Belugas are small whales that inhabit arctic and sub-arctic oceans. Nicknamed “sea canaries” because of their strange chirping and vocalizations, belugas are sociable, curious, docile, and friendly.
Every summer, upwards of 60,000 belugas flood the Hudson Bay estuaries to feed and give birth. After the ice breaks and the waters warm, the whales begin frequenting the Churchill River. Visiting belugas while cruising along the Churchill River is unlike other wildlife adventures because you have an extremely great chance of seeing the whales up close. It’s also likely you’ll hear them sing.
There are multiple ways to see belugas in Churchill. Since there are so many, you can just spot them from the shore. For a more personal and interactive experience, you can set out by zodiac to get close enough to hear them sing and see their famous sideways glance. You can also kayak or paddleboard if you wish to watch the whales glide underneath and splash around you. Under Canadian law, swimming and snorkeling with the whales is no longer permitted.
Know Before You Go
Churchill is a remote destination making it less convenient and more expensive to get to. There are no roads to get to Churchill. If you want to visit will have the option of a small chartered flight or a longer train ride. Beluga season is mid-June to mid-September. Peak months are July and August.
Please practice responsible tourism. Belugas are curious and friendly, so will likely come close enough to touch, but please don't. Belugas are wild animals that should be respected. You are there to observe; please don't touch, grab, or try to ride the whales. There are several agencies in Churchill that provide beluga tours. Please consider an operator that puts belugas over tourists.