Whale Watching Boston
Travel Update: Most destinations are open — check the official websites and read our crucial BEST TIME tips below to help you AVOID CROWDS (Travel with at least 15% off | booking.com)
When is the best time? May, June, July, August, September and October are the months for whale watching from Boston with great sighthings. Each summer the whales migrate to Massachusetts and back to warmer water when the weather gets cold.
Make sure to check our 7 Top Tips for Whale Watching from Boston at the end of this article.
Time of Day
In terms of sightings there is no big difference between mornings or afternoon. Mornings are usually less crowded though. That's we recommend the first tour in the morning. From mid-June until early September the first one starts at 9 AM from Monday through Sunday. During other months it can be 10 AM or even later. Click on the tour link below and check available times.
Weather and Sea
During the months of July, August and September the weather is generally more consistently pleasant. However, the whales even come out in the rain. If sea sickness is an issue for you check the weather forecast first to choose a calm day for whale watching. Marine Weather Boston Harbor
Massachusetts is well known for a high concentration of humpback whales, finback whales, sometimes minke whales and dolphins, therefore, many agencies give a guarantee. If you do not spot a whale, you get a lifetime rain check.
The humpbacks return every summer for feeding and teaching the young ones how to hunt. Luckily, most of the area is protected by Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Usually, the boat trips last 3 - 4 hours, depending on sightings. It took one hour to get out and one hour back to the harbor. We spent more than an hour close to the whales. Sea sickness is possible especially during windy days. I felt very comfortable on the huge boat.
7 Top Tips for Whale Watching from Boston
- Reservations: Booking in advance is highly recommended, as trips sell out quite often. This happens not only during peak season or on weekends. You have to book a Boston Harbor Cruises tour, which is the only operator for whale watching there.
- Best Seats: While the official recommendation is to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure, we strongly suggest at least 1 - 1.5 hours. That way you can get the best seats on the top deck. Arriving too late means you might end up standing as they sell more tickets than seats available. Staying at a nearby hotel helps (see our accommodation tips above).
- Food & Drinks: Bring your own food and beverages with you, as it’s a lot cheaper. While there is a bar selling snacks, sandwiches, juices, and more, they’re awfully expensive. There is also a very long waiting line quite often.
- Clothing & Gear: Even in the summer, bring a light jacket! It's 10-15°F colder out on the sea. Sunscreen and sunglasses are also important. It’s also a good idea to bring a hat. Never forget your camera of course. Bring cash, in case you want to buy something on the boat.
- Motion Sickness: While the boat is quite large and stable you’ll still feel the motion and in same cases may experience motion sickness. Take Dramamine one hour in advance if you had an issue before. But still, this boat is more stable than many others! Also, staying in the front area of the boat also helps (get there early to get the seats of your choice - see our tips above). Don't be afraid of motion sickness!
- How Long: The average whale watching trip usually takes between 3.5 and 4 hours.
- Best Time: The best time for whale watching is between May and October. Please read our 'best time' tips at the beginning of this article. As sightings are fully guaranteed, you'll receive a free ticket in the unlikely case of no whale sightings.