Watching From Land

You don’t need to take a boat tour to spot our local species

The Isle of Man is a fantastic place to observe whales, dolphins, porpoises, and basking sharks from the coastline. All of our key species come close enough inshore allowing you to see them from our coastal paths and view points. Watching from land also provides an excellent way to observe natural animal behaviour without the disturbing presence of a boat. The locations on the map are all good places to potentially spot cetaceans or basking sharks. Scroll down the page to read about each location in detail.

If you fancy a spotting day out then there are a few hints and tips to consider:

  • Check our recent sightings reports to see where the most recent areas of activity are
  • Choose a nice calm day, choppy seas make animals difficult to spot even if they are present
  • Use a good pair of binoculars if you have them
  • Take water, snacks, and a camping chair or picnic blanket
  • Dress appropriately with warm layers or sun protection
  • Take care on coastal paths and uneven ground
  • Take a notebook – note time, location, species, number, what they are doing and direction of travel. If you are unsure of anything, take notes and drop us an email
  • Watch for disturbance – white water and splashes can be caused by animals travelling or feeding
  • Look for bird activity, especially diving gannets, as this may indicate the presence of prey – get your binoculars on the area and spend a good while looking
  • Be patient and don’t be disappointed if you don’t see something straight away – look for more than just a few minutes, spend an hour or two if possible

Good watching sites

Recommended places around the Manx coast to watch for cetaceans and basking sharks


Take a walk along the promenade, across the bridge to Fenella Beach, around the Castle footpath and on to the breakwater

Take the number 5 bus from Douglas

Park along the sea front or Fenella Beach car park

Disabled parking on the sea front with unobstructed view across Peel Bay

Resident dolphins Moonlight and Starlight can be seen from Fenella, the castle, the breakwater, or close inside the bay anywhere from the groyne to the old swimming baths at all times of year. Keep an eye out if there are boats coming and going past the breakwater as they like to bow-ride.

During the winter mid-size pods (20-30) of bottlenose dolphins may be seen from the castle or breakwater. Potential for Risso’s dolphins, harbour porpoise, and common dolphin.

Basking sharks may be seen in the summer from the castle, breakwater, or even inside Peel Bay.


Meaning 'the tail' Niarbyl's rocky outcrop is a stunning section of coastline to view from the lawn behind the cafe

Take the 4N bus from Douglas or Peel

Park at the Niarbyl Bay Cafe

Paved car park with lawn behind the cafe to the viewing spot

Niarbyl is a brilliant spot for all cetacean species as well as basking sharks. In summer we frequently see Risso’s dolphins, minke whale, and harbour porpoise. Common dolphins occasionally come close enough here to see from land.

It is one of the best sites for basking sharks which may be seen feeding close to shore

Port Erin

A beautiful U-shaped bay with a lovely sandy beach or elevated viewing from the Bradda Glen viewing platform

Take the 1, 2, or 12 bus from Douglas

Park at the beach car park or along the promenade

Disabled parking at Bradda Glen with an accessible viewing platform just along the path

Public toilets by the beach car park

Foraging Vinters and Noa at the Cosy Nook Cafe

Resident bottlenose dolphins Moonlight and Starlight can often be seen right in the bay, particularly in the summer when they enjoy interacting with the paddleboards, sailing dinghys, and aquabikes.

Basking sharks may also be seen close to shore inside the bay.

Mid-size pods (20-30) of bottlenose dolphins can sometimes be seen here in the summer months.

The Sound

One of the most stunning locations on the island and so full of life, it's the ideal spot to soak in the views of landscape and wildlife

Take the 1, 2, or 12 bus from Douglas to Port St Mary or Port Erin then the number 28 bus in the summer, or follow the Raad ny Foillan coastal path

Park at the Cafe at the Sound, paved car park with excellent views from there or the cafe

This is one of the best places to see all five species of cetacean and the basking shark as there is high productively due to the strong tidal currents through the Sound.

This is a very good spot for Risso’s dolphins, harbour porpoise and minke whale during the summer, we also occasionally see common dolphins and basking shark.

During the winter and occasionally in the summer you may see mid-size pods (20-30) of bottlenose dolphins.

The islet between the mainland and the Calf of Man, Kitterland, is one of the main haul-out sites for grey seals on the Isle of Man. You may also see the not-so-common common seal.


A rugged coastline and shingle beach provide a different backdrop for the chance to spot passing pods of dolphins

Take the number 3 bus from Douglas, note the bus stops in upper Laxey near the MER meaning a downhill walk to the beach and uphill back to the bus

Laxey Harbour parking or along the beach front

The beach front is paved making it accessible along its length

Large pods (100+) of bottlenose between October and March and occasional mid-size pods in summer.

Minke whales feeding on herring in the autumn.


A wide sandy bay gives sweeping views and the opportunity for a close view of our resident bottlenose dolphins

Take the number 3 bus from Douglas or the 5 from Peel

Market Place car park

Queens Promenade

Mooragh Promenade

Promenades are paved and even with good views across Ramsey Bay

St Paul’s public toilets

There are a number of cafes and shops in Ramsey town

Resident bottlenose dolphins Moonlight and Starlight can be seen very close inshore anywhere in the bay at any time of year.

During the winter you may see large (100+) bottlenose dolphin pods and occasional mid-size pods in the summer.

Harbour porpoise are occasionally seen in Ramsey Bay

Point of Ayre

Explore the flat plains, shingle beaches, and sand dunes in the north of the island with a chance to spot marine wildlife

Not accessible by public transport. Bride can be reached on the number 18 or 20 bus from Ramsey

Park at the Ayres Nature Discovery Centre or Point of Ayre car park

Ayres Discovery Centre in a paved car park with steps up to a wooden viewing platform

Point of Ayre uneven ground and shingle beach

Ayres Nature Discovery Centre – open in the summer

Use the viewing platform at the Ayres Nature Discovery Centre as it offers you height in an otherwise flat location. Resident bottlenose dolphins Moonlight and Starlight swim past here. It is also a good spot for harbour porpoise and possibility of mid-size bottlenose dolphin pods. Minke whales and basking sharks are occasionally spotted in the north

Ballaugh Beach

Despite not having an elevated view here it is still possible to see dolphins passing this shallow sloping beach

Take the number 5 bus between Peel and Ramsey

Park at Ballaugh Beach car park

The closest facilities are located in Kirk Michael village

Resident bottlenose dolphin pair Moonlight and Starlight often pass by this location 

Calf of Man

If you have the chance to make it across the Sound to this little island it is well worth a visit for stunning views and its many lighthouses

Accessible only as foot passengers by boat from Port St Mary or Port Erin

Marked footpaths around the island but with uneven terrain

No public amenities on the Calf of Man

Amenities in Port Erin and Port St Mary

Visiting the Calf of Man allows an excellent opportunity to observe a patch of Manx waters not visible from the Sound. Looking out to the south and west from the lower lighthouse is a great place to spot Risso’s dolphins and minke whales through the summer.

Kallow Point, Port St Mary

On a calm day probably the best place on the island to see our smallest but most common species, the harbour porpoise

Take the 1, 2, or 12 bus from Douglas

Park at the Clifton Road car park

Unobstructed views to sea from the Clifton Road car park

Shops and cafes in Port St Mary village

Public toilets on the quay

Port St Mary ledges at Kallow Point is one of the best spots on the island to see harbour porpoise, they can be almost guaranteed on a very calm day in the summer. Sit near the achor memorial as this directly overlooks the ledges of limestone rock which you can see at low tide. Here, the crevices between each rock provide excellent shoaling grounds for small fish, which in turn provides the perfect feeding ground for our porpoises. You may also see Risso’s dolphins, minke whale, and common dolphin in the summer and mid-size pods of bottlenose dolphins during the winter. Occassional basking sharks have been seen in this area too.

Langness & Derbyhaven

A wander around any part of the Langness peninsula will give great views with a chance of spotting many of our local species

Not accessible by public transport. Closest is bus 1, 2, or 12 to the airport from Douglas

Castletown Golf Links paved car park with views in to Derbyhaven bay

St Michael’s Isle car park uneven terrain but views from the car in to Derbyhaven bay

Herring Tower car park paved road to the car park then uneven terrain but views from the car park in to Castletown bay

Cafe Bar Two-Six paved footpath starts a little way behind the cafe leading to the end of the runway for views out to the east

Anywhere around Langness, Fort Island, and Derbyhaven has potential for sightings. In summer it is a superb spot for Risso’s dolphin and harbour porpoise, and October-March sees large bottlenose dolphin pods (100+ animals). Dolphins have even been spotted by golfers from the links! Derbyhaven and Turkeylands (located at the end of the airport runway extension) have become hot-spots for minke whales in recent years between September and November.

Marine Drive

A great elevated position allowing views to a far horizon and down on to passing marine life. Also an excellent place for a terrestrial wildlife walk

Roadside parking near the Arch

Pigeon Stream car park

Fort Anne road

Stop the car anywhere along Marin Drive for great views, but note you cannot drive all the way along. It is accessible from Douglas or from Port Soderick/Keristal with a road block in the middle

No public amenities on Marine Drive.

The closest are located at


Sea Terminal

Marine Drive is a fantastic spotting site as you are elevated and can often look down on dolphins or whales as they swim past. MWDW watches from the Toll Gate (the Arches) but anywhere along the drive is good. Spring sees Risso’s dolphins returning to Manx waters and usually first sighted from Marine Drive. Risso’s can be seen here through the summer, harbour porpoise all year round and large pods of bottlenose dolphins (100+) during the winter between October and March. September and October sees good numbers of minke whales who feed off Marine drive for days or weeks. Minke whales are often close enough to be heard breathing before they are seen! In previous autumns humpback whale, sei whale, and fin whale have been seen, but these are rarer sightings

Other Useful Info

Live Sightings

Join our Telegram group to get live sightings notifications


Check for any upcoming public seawatches

Equipment Tips

Tips and tricks for taking photos and buying binoculars

Report a sighting

Make sure to report your sighting of a whale, dolphin, porpoise, or basking shark to us