New ENGLAND Whale Watch Tours
The ocean waters off New England offer one of the best places in the world for a whale watch tour. Get ready to be splashed!
In warmer months, many species of whales including Humpback, Finback, Right, and Minke whales migrate to rich feeding grounds off the New England coast to dine on mackerel, herring, krill and other schooling fish. There is nothing quite like heading out to sea on a whale watch tour to observe the world’s largest creatures feeding or playing up close. Some days, lucky observers will see the theatrical Humpback whales breeching (jumping) right in front of the boat or feeding in large groups.
Many of the Humpback whales return to New England every summer. These whales are identified and named, and carefully tracked each year – perhaps you’ll see Bungee, Echo, or Squiggle.
WHEN, WHERE, and What to Bring
Whale watching tours are offered all along the New England coast (see below) typically from May through October. Most take 3-4 hours, heading out to the major whale feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (off Massachusetts), Jeffreys Ledge, or the Gulf of Maine, depending on the port. Be sure to bring a camera and extra clothes since even on hot days the breezes out at sea can be cold. Those without “sea legs” might want a seasickness bracelet or medicine on windy days. Sneakers (trainers) or rubber-soled shoes are also good for traction on the boat decks.
New England’s Whaling History
Whales are now valued in New England for their sheer majesty, but whale hunting and harvesting was once a major industry in the colonies. During the 18th and 19th century, whaling was a lucrative business with whale oils used for lighting and whalebone used for many other products. Hundreds of ships left New England harbors each year on dangerous whaling expeditions that sometimes took them all over the globe. With the emergence of crude oil, interest in whale oil plummeted around 1850 and the industry went into demise. Learn more about the history of New England Whaling at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum.
Kennebunkport, Maine (southern Maine):
First Chance WhaleWatch
Portland, Maine (southern Maine):
Odyssey Whale Watch
Boothbay Harbor, Maine (mid-coast Maine):
Capt’n Fish’s Whale Watch
Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park):
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company
New England Aquarium Whale Watch operated by Boston Harbor Cruises
Boston Harbor Cruises
Newburyport, Massachusetts (north of Boston):
Newburyport Whale Watch
Plymouth, Massachusetts (south of Boston):
Captain John Whale Watching and Fishing Tours
Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
Al Gauron Whale Watching
OTHER WHALE-RELATED NEW ENGLAND DESTINATIONS
New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New Bedford Whaling Museum
New Bedford, Massachusetts
Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum
Seacoast Science Center
Rye, New Hampshire
Maine Maritime Museum
Bar Harbor Whale Museum
Bar Harbor, Maine
Mystic Aquarium: Beluga Whale Encounters (in season)
Other New England Whaling Information: