Best Binoculars for Whale Watching 2018 (Reviews & Guide)

Planning to go whale watching? Then don’t forget to carry one of the best binoculars for whale watching with you. The mere sound of this activity sounds fun and having a binocular with you will, without doubt, make things even more memorable.

Whales are such fascinating animals and have been around for a very long time, their population has drastically decreased; no wonder several species are listed as endangered.

So, if you ever get a chance to go on cruise or lucky enough to live somewhere close to a shore where whales can be watched, then you really need to get a binocular to observe these beautiful aquatic giants just like they were right next to you.

Why to Buy Whale Watching Binoculars?

Whether you plan to observe these marvelous mammals from the shores of Alaska, an Alaska cruise ship or while on a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, a binocular must be at the top of your checklist. Whales are shy animals and they don’t swim too close to shore or a ship.

As huge as they are, trying to observe them with the naked eyes is almost like missing out on the whole fun, using just any pair of binoculars might or might not feel so great, but equipping yourself with a suitable whale watching binocular would give you the full treatment.

While the definition of “the right binocular” is always relative to individual preference, certain benchmarks must be met and below we’ve made a list of points to look out for when buying a binocular for whale watching.

Top 10 List of the Best Binoculars for Whale Watching 2018

  1. Wingspan Optics WideViews HD 8X42 Professional Binoculars
  2. Nikon ACULON A211 7×35 Binocular
  3. Swarovski Optik EL Swarovision Binocular, 10×42 mm
  4. Vanguard Spirit ED 10×42 Binocular
  5. Fujinon Techno Stain TS 14×40 Image Stabilization Binocular
  6. Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Porro Prism Binocular
  7. Pentax DCF NV
  8. Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 Roof Prism Binocular
  9. Celestron TrailSeeker 8×42 Binoculars
  10. Snypex Knight ED 8×42 Binoculars

What to Look for Before Buying Best Binoculars for Whale Watching

  • Magnification

Going over the basics, binoculars are often described using two numbers separated by an “x” e.g. 7×28, 8×32, 8×42 and so on. The magnification is represented by the number just before the “x”. For whale watching, the device you choose would depend on whether you are viewing from a cruise ship/boat or on land.

On land, you have a stable surface to view from but you are quite far away from the whales. So, a tripod adaptable binocular with a reasonably high magnification power would be ideal.

On cruise or boat, however, you will need a binocular with sufficient magnification but doesn’t pose any stability issues, especially considering the fact that you will be viewing on a mobile platform.

Whether you are searching for the best binocular for whale watching from land or on cruise, our list of recommended devices has got great binoculars models suitable for both purposes.

  • Size of the objectives

The diameter in mm of a pair of binocular is represented by the number after the “x”. The larger this value, the more a pair of binocular is able to gather light.

This feature is particularly crucial if you intend to go whale watching at dawn, dusk or in areas with poor light conditions.

During the day, compact and mid-sized binoculars are great for viewing while binoculars with larger objectives are more adapted for night time viewing. Though larger lenses equate to brighter images, they also make the binoculars bigger in size and heavier.

  • Waterproof and fog-proof features

The home of whales is the sea where there can be sudden downpours and great fluctuations in temperature. Hence, a good binoculars for whale watching must be both waterproof and fog-proof. Fogging of the internal components of an optical device leads to poor light transmittance and this results in poor imaging performance.

The waterproof feature is equally as crucial as it ensures your binocular remains fully functional even when it comes in contact with water. Fortunately, most medium end and even low-end binoculars come with these features.

  • Ergonomics and Overall Quality

The quality and durability of the exterior and internal components of your binoculars are of utmost importance. The lenses and the prisms as well as the coatings on them should be made of top quality materials to ensure that you get the best versions of the images you’d observe.

The exterior of the binocular should be sleek and sturdy as well. Devices with a quality rubberized armor are amazing, they allow for a comfortable non-slip grip and are very durable.

  • Price

It’s true that the price of a binocular is reflective of the optical quality of the device. As we always say, you shouldn’t be in a hurry just to pay the price. Nobody has to spend a fortune just to get a suitable binocular for whatever purpose.

Also, try to steer clear of cheap binoculars as you will most likely end up disappointed. Though the prices of the devices we’ve selected in our recommendation price have varying price, each one of the offers great value for money and will not disappoint.

Let’s dive straight into it.

 Reviews of Top 5 Best Binoculars for Whale Watching

1. Pentax DCF NV – best compact binoculars for whale watching

The DCF NV is an 8×36 binocular from the optical device big name, Pentax. It offers an 8x magnification power which is sufficient for whale watching particularly on a cruise ship or boat due to the sharpness and impressive degree of image stability.

Just like most quality binoculars, this device features a nicely textured exterior rubberized armor which provides some much-needed protection and a pleasant non-slip grip. A waterproof function is of the essence for a binocular to be used for whale watching.

The DCF NV binocular is well-equipped in this regard; it features O-ring seals and a nitrogen filling, both features make this binocular fully waterproof and fog proof. There is no questioning the ergonomics and eyeglass wearers can enjoy the entire field of view of 114m at 1000 meters due to the long 16 mm eye relief.

The lenses are fully multi-coated and the roof prisms are phase-corrected to ensure that you enjoy nothing short of top quality images.
best binoculars for whale watching from land


  • High performing optics.
  • The close near focus of 3m (9.8 ft.) allows you to observe nearby objects clearly.
  • Images are color true, bright and vivid
  • Fully fogproof and waterproof.
  • Lens covers, straps and cleaning cloth are included in delivery scope.
  • There’s been complaints about the quality of the neck strap. It’s thin and lacks a padding.

2. Nikon ACULON A211 7×35 Binocular – best binoculars for whale watching from shore

This Nikon Aculon A211 binocular 7×35 from Nikon is just perfect for adventure seekers who love to enjoy crisp images. It makes our list of the best binoculars for whale watching due to the excellent performance of the optics which incorporates high-quality BaK-4 Porro prisms and 7x multicoated lenses.

The design is compact and the images are bright and crisp images irrespective of the light condition. The high-quality rubber armor and twist-up eyecups further enhance an already commendable level of user comfort.

The 7x magnification power delivers an incredible level of image stability even when the binocular is used on a moving boat or ship. Whales are enormous and clearly stand out of their surrounding which makes the 488 ft. field of view at 1000 yards sufficient for a memorable whale watching experience.

The binocular passes all quality standards and the glasses are free of harmful materials like lead and compact binoculars for whale watching


  • Great value for money.
  • High optical performance in all lighting conditions.
  • Wide field of view
  • Eco-friendly glass.
  • High quality build materials guarantee long term durability.


  • The binocular weighs significantly more than others in the same category basically due to the Porro prism system.

3. Swarovski Optik EL Swarovision Binocular, 10×42 mm – good binoculars for whale watching

The EL Swarovision 10×42 binocular from Swarovski Optik is one of the best binoculars for whale watching from land. It provides a powerful 10x magnification power which enables you to observe all the tiny details from distance.

The enormous 42 mm objective lens diameters enables the device to gather enough light even at dawn or dusk when the lighting condition is poor. The high performing lenses are fully multicoated while the roof prisms incorporated are phase-corrected and also feature a dielectric anti-reflective coating.

The device is ergonomically sound and the long eye relief of 20 mm allows spectacle wearers to enjoy the pleasing sights the binocular offers. The Swarovision 10×42 binocular is fully sealed and completely waterproof and fog proof; thanks to the nitrogen filling of the housing.

At 840 grams, the device is quite sizeable but also tripod adaptable which enables it to be used for extended periods without any image stability issues. The field of view of 112 meters at 1000 meters (1km) is sufficient for whale watching.
good binoculars for whale watching


  • High low light performance
  • Binocular is tripod adaptable
  • Waterproof and fogproof features
  • Sufficient magnification for distant watching
  • Long eye relief (20mm)
  • The binoculars are big and quite heavy due to the large lenses.

3. Snypex Knight ED 8×42 Binoculars – best inexpensive binoculars for whale watching

The Synpex Knight 8×42 binocular is compact, waterproof and fogproof and provides an outstanding near focus of 4.56 ft. (just 1.38 meters). The device is rugged and comes with a rubberized armor which enables it to absorb shock without any damage.

The optics feature fully multicoated ED glass lenses and Bak-4 prisms which provides color-true images with astonishing clarity and impressive brightness in all situations. The Knight performs great at night as the 42 mm objectives enables it to gather sufficient image forming light.

Ergonomics is spot on, the long eye relief and twist-up eyecups make this binocular great for spectacle wearers. The binocular is tripod mountable to improve image stability and the field of view is a quite unstinting 393 ft. at 1000 yards. The device looks and feels gorgeous and its quality is backed by years warranty.
best binoculars for whale watching from shore


  • An ergonomic and gorgeous design
  • Fully waterproof and fogproof
  • Very close near focus (4.56 ft.)
  • Impressive low-light performance
  •  25 years warranty
  • At 2.98 lbs. the knight is not the lightest 8×42 binocular on the market.

5. Fujinon Techno Stain TS 14×40 Image Stabilization Binocularbest travel binoculars for whale watching

The Techno Stabi 14×40 IS binocular is a powerful, close-focus, near-focusing binocular that comes with an image stabilizer. It provides very stable images even when the observer is in motion making them suitable for whale watching from boats and cruise ships as well as from land. This is one of the best whale watching binoculars on the market now.

The images are clear, and color true, thanks to the exceptional light transmittance by the EBC coated lenses. The image stabilizing system is powered by four detachable AA batteries. The total weight is 4 pounds (1.81kg) while the dimensions are 9.7-inches x 13 inches x 6 inches so this device is particularly recommended for users who love to enjoy quality highly detailed images without minding the weight.

Just as with other high magnification device, the field of view is significantly less than you get with standard binoculars but for whale watching, the field of view of 70 meters at 1000 meter would suffice.
best binoculars for whale watching


  • High powered image stabilized binocular
  • Ergonomically friendly
  • High quality accessories included.
  • Fully waterproof and fog proof
  • Exceptional light transmittance
  • Just like all high magnification binoculars, the exit pupil is low (2.8mm) so this binocular doesn’t perform well in low light conditions.

Final Thoughts

Yes, whales are huge but trying to watch them with the naked eyes doesn’t allow you enjoy all the fascinating details. You only realize how much fun you’ve been missing when you use a pair of binoculars.

Not just any binocular is suitable for whale watching, you’d need to put features like magnification, field of view and all the others mentioned above into consideration if you are going to make the right choice. So, whether from land or on cruise, we hope our guide points you to the best binocular for whale watching.

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