These are medium-sized albatrosses, measuring about 34-35 in (86–90 cm) long, weighing in at 7.5 lb (3.4 kg), and having a wingspan 7.4 ft (2.25 m). They are distinctive for their yellowish-cream neck and head, which contrasts with their mostly brownish bodies. They have brown upper-wings, back, and tail, along with a whitish breast and underwings, and blue feet. Juveniles are similar to adults except for more white on their head. Chicks have brown fluffy feathers.
When they forage, the Waved Albatross follow straight paths to a single site off the coast of Peru, about 1,000 km (620 mi) distant to the east. During the non-breeding season, these birds reside primarily in the areas of the Ecuador and Peruvian coasts.