Boston Whale Watching Guide

If you’re hoping to see some whales while visiting New England, let the experts on our list of Boston whale watching tours be your guide.

By Heather Tourgee

Jun 21 2019


A whale “waving” to visitors on the Captain’s Lady III.

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Newburyport Whale Watch
The chilly waters off the coast of New England provide the perfect summer feeding grounds for many types of whales, from humpbacks and finbacks to minkes and endangered right whales. After being hunted nearly to extinction, the gentle giants are making a comeback, returning to waters mere miles from Boston Harbor. From May to October, you can leave the busy harbor behind and see these amazing creatures in action. Including tours based in the city as well as those within close driving distance, our list of Boston whale watching tours will help get you started!

Boston Whale Watching Guide

Spotting a humpback whale on a New England Aquarium Whale Watch outing.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of New England Aquarium/S. Cheng


After checking out the whale skeleton hanging in the New England Aquarium, or maybe the nearby life-size replica of a whale’s heart, you may be inspired to see a whale in the wild. The aquarium partners with Boston Harbor Cruises to take passengers on a short trip to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, an 842-square-mile refuge that provides a summer home for marine life of all kinds, especially whales. If you’re lucky, you may even see a dolphin or two as well. Learn about these amazing creatures from trained naturalists on board this favorite Boston whale watching cruise.
boston whale watching
A whale off the bow of a 7 Seas Whale Watch boat.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of 7 Seas Whale Watch

7 SEAS WHALE WATCH, Gloucester

Cape Ann juts into the Atlantic between Stellwagen and Jeffries Ledge, two of the main feeding grounds for whales on the East Coast. This means boats from Gloucester don’t have to travel far to reach whales and dolphins and can instead spend more time cruising among them. The boats of 7 Seas are spacious and clean, and there’s always a marine biologist on board. A 2012 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Cetacean Viewing.”
boston whale watching
A humpback making a splash during a Captain John Boats whale watch.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Captain John Boats


Head out to Cape Cod Bay and Stellwagen from Plymouth, just an hour south of Boston. Whale watching with Captain John is an exhilarating experience, no matter what type of marine life you happen upon. Get up close and personal with the majestic animals and learn about their unique place in New England’s marine environment.
boston whale watching
Two whales diving in unison, as seen from the Cape Ann Whale Watch boat.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Cape Ann Whale Watch


Cape Ann Whale Watch has been bringing visitors to these amazing creatures since 1979. To date, it has carried more than half a million passengers into the waters off Massachusetts to witness the awe-inspiring animals. Enjoy the ride on the high-speed vessel en route to the feeding grounds, and be sure to have your camera ready!
boston whale watching
A whale “waving” to visitors on the Captain’s Lady III.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Newburyport Whale Watch


Newburyport Whale Watch been leading excursions for more than half a century with the aim of educating the public on the importance of marine conservation. Naturalists aboard the Captain’s Lady III are ready to answer any questions you may have about the variety of species you’re sure to see.
boston whale watching
A diving whale seen during a Capt. Bill &Sons Whale Watch outing.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Capt. Bill & Sons

CAPT. BILL & SONS, Gloucester

Climb aboard the 100-foot Cape Ann and let educators from the Whale Center of New England be your guide as you follow humpbacks, minkes, and right whiles on this three-to-four-hour tour. When you arrive back on land, be sure to check out the exhibits in the visitors center. NOTE:None of these companies can guarantee a whale sighting. However, if you don’t spot a whale on your excursion, many will give you a voucher for a free ride. See websites for details. Have you ever experienced a Boston whale watching adventure? Let us know! This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated. 

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