When Is the Best Time
The months for a stunning whale watching experience are: May, June, July, August, September and October. These are the months for whale watching from Boston with sightings almost guaranteed. 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 to early September the first tour starts at 9 AM each weekday and on weekends. During other months it might be later, usually from 10 a.m. 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
Whale Watching Tour
The Boston whale tours are fantastic! The best tour operator, which everyone uses, is Boston Harbor Cruises. You should (or must) book in advance as they sell out fast. Naturalists from the New England Aquarium are on board to share their knowledge and answer questions. Tip: The New England Aquarium is right there as well. You shouldn't miss it. Book the 'skip the line ticket' here if you like: Boston - New England Aquarium - Skip the Line
Boston Harbor Hotel Tips
To get the best seats on the boat, you have to arrive 1 - 1.5 hours prior to the departure time. The easiest way to make it, is staying at a nearby hotel. These 3 hotels are within 5-7 minutes walking distance (Google Maps Location Boston Harbor Cruises):
- Bricco Suites - Excellent 'budget tip'
- Harborside Inn - 281 m from the Harbor
- Boston Harbor Hotel - Outstanding 5 stars
Otherwise you may also the official hotel list by booking.com: Hotels in Boston (bookmark the link to save time and money later!)
3 Must-Do Activities in Boston | Besides Whale Watching
Whale Watching Calendar
Where and Tips
Massachusetts is popular for for sightings of humpback whales, finback whales, sometimes minke whales and dolphins. That's why most tour operators offer a guarantee. If no whales are being spotted, you usually get a compensation.
The humpback whales return every summer for feeding the calves and teaching them. The whole region is protected by Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Typically, one whale watching tour lasts 3 to 4 hours, depending on different factors. Often you'll spend about one hour close the whales out there. Sea sickness is possible particularly when the sea is rough. Most visitors don't get sick because of their huge vessel.
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.