There is a long time when, just like the sharks, the killer whale had a bad reputation. Often considered dangerous, the killer whale is actually an intelligent creature that is not likely to attack humans. Interestingly enough, killer whales are not really whales but belong to the dolphin family, and they are very sweet. Like their cousins the dolphins, they travel in groups, and each group has a leader, often a female. Swimming with orcas is an unusual experience to do, whether you are an experienced diver or beginner. Here are our 5 favorite spots around the world for swimming with orcas.
Swim with Orcas: Tysfjord, Norway
The cold, crystal-clear waters fed by the Norwegian Fjord are a great place to swim with killer whales. These marine mammals often move in groups of 200 or more. Orcas are particularly present in winter when they come to feed on herring in these waters. Indeed, from late October onwards, these migratory herring reach Tysfjord, Norway, about 250 km north of the Arctic Circle, where hundreds of hungry orcas pursue them.
For about three months, these marine mammals are visible from a trawler or underwater, provided they dive into the icy water. However, do not worry, the organizers will ask you to put on a thick Neoprene diving suit, protecting from the cold and facilitating flotation. Then, equipped with a mask and a snorkel, you will be able to contemplate the ballet of the orcas under water. Magic, simply.
When: From November to January.
With whom: Big Fish Expeditions organizes all-inclusive trips (6 nights accommodation aboard the MV Sula expedition ship, including 5 days at sea to swim with killer whales).
Tutukaka, New Zealand
To swim with killer whales, head for Tutukaka, New Zealand. The Poor Knights Islands dive site, one of Jacques Cousteau’s favorites, allows you to swim with these marine mammals, almost all year long. A marine mammal license is required to interact with these creatures, and often dive centers offer them. Anyway, always let them come to you and do not rush them.
But the Poor Knights Marine Reserve is not only famous for its orcas but also its caves, its narrow passages, its arches, its laminaria fields, allows to swim with manta rays and turtles.
When: Almost all year.
With whom: Dive! Tutukaka that introduces beginners to snorkeling, perfect to see killer whales near the boat. The center is also suitable for the most experienced.
Playas del Coco, Costa Rica
Located on the north Pacific coast, Playas del Coco (El Coco for the regulars) is one of the oldest seaside communities of Guanacaste in Costa Rica. Playas del Coco is the essential spot for swimming with orcas. During the coldest months, the killer whale joins the rays, dolphins and sea turtles in these waters rich in nutrients and corals.
The southeastern side of Coco Island, Drake Bay, the Gulf of Papagayo and parks such as Ballena National Marine Park, Cabo Blanco National Park, and Cahuita National Park are hot spots for killer whales.
When: From November to February.
With whom: Deep Blue Diving, the first PADI Gold Palm Resort ready to meet a wide range of diving pleasures. Accessible to all levels of divers.
Algo Bay, South Africa
Algoa Bay and surrounding areas are home to a number of perfect dive sites for watching and swimming with orcas. The accessibility of scuba diving and the ease of boat diving make it a prime spot to be closer to these marine mammals.
You can see them from your observation boat or by crisscrossing the seabed.
When: From May to August.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The Raja Ampat Reefs in Indonesia is home to some of the most diverse marine life in the world and is home to some of the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world. It is also the perfect spot for swimming with orcas.
The area contains Cenderwasih Bay, the largest national marine park in Indonesia.
When: From February to May.
With whom: Papua Explorers Resort, whose dive team consists of talented Indonesian guides, trained to the latest standards, multi-national PADI instructors, including various specialties, as well as highly trained and experienced boat pilots.