Look for a day when light wind is in the forecast and seas (a/k/a "swells") are predicted to be 2 feet or less. Those are the best days to be on the water!
Are you skeptical about the forecast?
Call the whale watch cruise provider, and ask for their advice. They'll give you the straight scoop. Believe me, they don't want a bunch of barfy passengers onboard any more than you want to be one of those barfy passengers! ;-)
Of course, we all hope for blue skies and sunshine for our whale watching days. Don't despair, though, if Mother Nature isn't totally cooperative while you're here.
Rain showers in the forecast? That's not a big deal. The cruise boats have lots of indoor space for getting out of the weather. Pack a hooded rain slicker (more about that, below), and you'll be all set to head out on deck to see the whales up close.
Will you see whales when it's raining? Sure! Remember ... whales live in water. A little more water coming from the sky doesn't bother them a bit. They still swim, feed and play, even when it's raining!
No matter where you're staying on Cape Cod, there's a whale watching cruise reasonably nearby.
Whale Watch Cruise Ports
Whale watch cruises leave from two places on Cape Cod:
Which Port to Choose?
My advice is to minimize your driving time as much as possible, especially in the height of our tourism season when traffic can be an issue. Go with the port that's nearest to you.
Barnstable Harbor is nearest to:
Provincetown Harbor is nearest to:
Mid-way between the two ports are the towns of:
If you're staying in one of these "mid-way between" towns, then take your pick of either whale watch cruise port.
Important FYI: In the summer months, traffic can be very heavy on Rt. 6 heading toward Provincetown. If you're in one of those "mid-way between" towns, and you opt to go whale watching from Provincetown rather than Barnstable, be sure to factor traffic conditions into your travel plans!
Barnstable Harbor Barnstable, MA (508) 362-6088 www.whales.net
Ready for Boarding at the Pier in Barnstable, MA
Whale Watcher is a state-of-the-art, high-speed, water-jet driven ship that's designed and built especially for whale watching. It's a good-sized vessel measuring in at 130 feet in total length, with comfy interior cabins, a well-stocked galley, and outdoor decks for up-close viewing.
Note: Despite the company's name, these excursions leave from Barnstable Harbor - not Hyannis Harbor! (Hyannis is on Nantucket Sound on the south side of the Cape. The village of Barnstable is on Cape Cod Bay on the north side of the Cape.)
Operating Season: April 17 - November 14, 2021
Time Onboard: About 4 hours
Tickets: $65/adult; $55/senior (62+); $45/child (4-12); $3/child age 3 and under; active military free with valid ID. Reservations recommended.
Discounts: May be offered. Check site for details.
Accessibility: Can accommodate smaller manual wheelchairs. Rest room on first deck. Call the company for details.
Parking: Paid parking is available at the pier.
$$ Saving Hint: About 3/4 mile from the pier there's a large parking lot at the Barnstable County Courthouse Complex (marked with the yellow pin on the map below). Parking is free, and it's an easy 15 minute walk to the pier.
MacMillan Pier Provincetown, MA (800) 826-9300 www.whalewatch.com
Dolphin Fleet Cruise Boat off Race Point in Provincetown, MA
Dolphin Fleet has multiple ships, each with climate-controlled cabins, open viewing decks, and a galley serving a variety of meals, snacks and beverages.
Operating Season: April 17 - October 11, 2021
Time Onboard: About 3-4 hours
Tickets: $65/adult; $40/child (5-12); $55/senior (62+) Free boarding pass for children age 4 and under. Reservations recommended.
Discounts: Check company website for discount offers
Parking: Parking can be a real headache in Provincetown, especially during the summer months. If you get there early enough, you might find a spot in the parking lot adjacent to the pier. If not, check the side streets a few blocks away from the pier. You can usually find a spot in one of those lots. (Expect to pay from $15-$30+ for parking, depending on the time of year and where you park.)
Accessibility: Smaller manual wheelchairs can be brought onboard, but rest rooms cannot be accessed. Call the company for details.
Suggestion: If you'll be whale watching in June, July or August, be sure to get into town early. It might take longer than you expect to find parking and walk to the pier. You don't want to miss the boat! ;-)
Captain John Boats - Provincetown
MacMillan Wharf Provincetown, MA (508) 556-1426 www.captjohn.com
Captain John Boats
Captain John Boats' whale watch vessel has two open viewing decks, a climate-controlled cabin, rest rooms, and a galley serving a variety of food and beverages.
Operating Season: July and August only
Time Onboard: About 4 hours
Tickets: $65/adult; $40/child (4-12); free boarding pass for children age 4 and under with paying adult. Reservations recommended.