Whale Watching Cruises in Bar Harbor, Maine: A Guide

Bar Harbor is one of the four major locations for whale watching cruises in Maine. About 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Canadian border, it is the northernmost departure point in the state for such cruises. One company in Bar Harbor offers these whale watching cruises, Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., so below we explain their offerings, which is interspersed with some general information about whale watching in Maine.

As we explained in a more general article, the whale watching cruises in Maine are very much like the whale watching cruises in the two states directly south of it, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, these three states are the center of whale watching along the East Coast of the United States, and the departure points along the shorelines of these states are directed at a similar stretch of the cold northern Atlantic Ocean, where a variety of whales feed over the summer. Whale watching in this area is directed at humpback, finback and minke whales, although occasionally other species can be spotted. Other forms of marine life can also be seen, including seals, dolphins, and a variety of seabirds, most notably puffins, for which Maine is known.

As we mentioned, only one whale watching company operates in Bar Harbor, the fittingly named Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.. Although whale watching is obviously a major focus, the company offers a variety of different cruises, and is in fact “Maine’s largest boating tour company,” according to their website. They offer cruises that are exclusively focused on whale watching that last around three hours – there is the standard daytime version, and a sunset version too – but they also have a whale and puffin tour that is only about 30 minutes longer. All of these cruises cost almost exactly the same: $59 for adults, $33 for juniors (ages 6-14), and $9 for children (five and under). (The sunset cruise is a hair more expensive for adult and junior tickets, which cost $60 and $35, respectively.)

Each of these cruises has a specific schedule for the year, which is a little complicated and can’t be neatly summarized. (The precise information, including departure times, can be found on the schedule and rates page.) Basically, though, the season begins in late May and runs through most of October, but not all the cruises are offered throughout this entire period. The “Whales and Puffins” cruises begin first, with the standard “Whale Watch” tours starting about a month later. However, puffins can only be seen up until the end of August, so the puffin cruises stop, and then there are only the regular whale watching cruises. In the middle of the season, during July and August (more or less), the “Sunset Whale Watch” cruises are offered. So, you can whale watch from May through October, but the precise cruise you take will depend when on you go.

Tickets for whale watching in Bar Harbor can be booked online, so visit the links above if you are interested in securing a spot on one of the tours. If you are in Maine, but not in Bar Harbor specifically, check out our article on whale watching cruises in Maine for information about other places to sail.

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