The Northeast is filled with whale watching cruises, and the state at the center of the whale watching scene, in terms of both location and importance, is Massachusetts. A number of whale watching cruise companies operate out of the state, and they sail out of cities all along the Massachusetts’ coast. There are of course whale watching cruises out of Boston, but several smaller cities have whale watching cruises as well, including Gloucester, Newburyport, Plymouth, Hyannis, and Provincetown, and there are also whale watching cruises from Nantucket Island. Basically, if you are anywhere along the Massachusetts coastline, you likely aren’t far from a whale watching outfit. To impose some order on the situation, we have compiled the following guide to whale watching in Massachusetts.
Since there are so many different whale watching cruises in Massachusetts, it is easy to become overwhelmed when searching through the various possibilities. However, it is worth keeping in mind that most of these cruises will be very similar. They set sail from different cities and towns along the coast, but all of these departure points are close to one another (Massachusetts isn’t that big), so you’ll be sailing in essentially the same waters. You’ll also be looking for the same types of whales, primarily humpback, finback, and minke whales, although you can occasionally see other species, like pilot and right whales, along with a number of other marine animals (dolphins, turtles, and so on).
Of course, you could have better luck with one whale watching company than another, but overall the experience will be similar, and that experience should be good. Massachusetts is definitely one of the best places in the world to whale watch, and most (if not all) of the whale watching companies guarantee sightings. Thus, it is advisable not to get overly concerned about the exact company you end up booking with – you aren’t picking a doctor or buying a new car. So, in most cases, we recommend booking whatever cruise whose departure point is most convenient for you to get to, although factors such as price and availability could of course influence your decision.
Since there are so many different whale watching companies, we figured it would be most helpful to simply link to each company, and list where the company is based. With this arrangement, you’ll be able to check what is available in whatever part of the state of you happen to be in, and then you can start your search from there.
Boston Harbor Cruises
(Note: These cruises are offered in partnership with the New England Aquarium. You can find information about the cruises on both sites, but you ultimately have to book through Boston Harbor Cruises if you buy tickets online.)
7 Seas Whale Watch
Cape Ann Whale Watch
Captain Bill and Sons Whale Watch
(Note: Yankee Fleet is primarily a fishing company, whereas the first three are dedicated to whale watching specifically, but you can still whale watch with Yankee Fleet.)
Newburyport Whale Watch
Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises
This likely doesn’t include every single company that offers whale watching in Massachusetts – some companies that charter boats for a variety of different purposes might offer the occasional whale watching cruise, for instance – but the above list should include all the major whale watching companies in the state. In any case, you should have plenty to choose from, regardless of where you are in Massachusetts.