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Cape Days Guide to
Private Whale Watching on Cape Cod

Is a private whale watching in your Cape Cod vacation plans?

If you're wondering where to find a charter and what to expect from this one-of-a-kind experience, you've come to the right place!

Whales in the ocean, one with its flukes l out of the water, the other showing its dorsal fin.These two whales put on quite a show for us!

Directory of Private Whale Watch Charters

Jax Fishing Charters

Captain Caroline Scotti
Captain Ben Hull
Harwich, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 4 hours

Passenger Limit: Up to 6. May be able to make arrangements to accommodate a larger group.

Also Offering: Fishing, seal-spotting, sunset cruises, private charters to Nantucket 

Website: Jax Fishing Charters

Down Cape Charters
Wequassett Resort
Harwich, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 3 hours

Passenger Limit: Can accommodate up to 14

Also Offering: Shark tours, sailing charters, scenic tours, boat rentals

Down Cape Charters

Dragonfly Sportfishing
Captain Mike Bosley
Orleans, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 4 and 8-hour trips available

Passenger Limit: Maximum of 6

Also Offering: Fishing, Great White shark tours, family fun trips (customizable)

Website: Dragonfly Sportfishing

Monomoy Sportfishing
Captain Darren Saletta
Chatham, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 2.25 hours

Passenger Limit: Up to 6. (No children under age 3 for offshore tours.)

Also Offering: Fishing, shark tours, harbor & seal cruises, custom eco tours, and more.

Website: Monomoy Sportfishing

Bluewater Entertainment
Captain Matt Mendoza
Chatham, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 2.5 hours

Passenger Limit: 6

Also Offering: Fishing, shark tours, harbor and seal cruises, trips to Nantucket, custom charters

Website: Bluewater Entertainment

Chatham Bars Inn Charters
Chatham Bars Inn
Chatham, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 2+ hours

Passenger Limit: 6 maximum

Also Offering: "Shark Shadowing", Shark Beacon Cruise

Website: Chatham Bars Inn Charters

Abdow's Magic Charters
Captain Mike Abdow
Chatham, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 3 hours (June only)

Passenger Limit: Up to 7

Also Offering: Fishing, sea duck hunting

Website: Abdow's Magic Charters

SeaSalt Charters
Captain Chad Avellar
Provincetown, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 4 hours

Passenger Limit: Up to 6 

Also Offering: Fishing, custom charters, combo trips, and "shared" whale watch charters

Website: SeaSalt Charters

Ginny G Charters
Captain Dave Gibson
Provincetown, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 3 to 4 hours

Passenger Limit: 6

Also Offering: Fishing, harbor & seal cruises, lobster boat tours, combo trips

Website: Ginny G Charters

Hook Charters
Captain Steve Herbert
Provincetown, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 3 hours

Passenger Limit: 6

Also Offering: Fishing

Website: Hook Charters

Cape Tip'n Charters
Captain Nico Pace
Provincetown, MA

Whale Watch Trip Duration: 3 to 3.5 hours

Passenger Limit: 6

Also Offering: Fishing, fishing/whale watching combo charters

Website: Cape Tip'n Charters

Important! Each captain manages his/her business a little differently. So I strongly urge you to contact your preferred charter service(s) directly to have all your questions answered before you reserve!

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Whale with its tail out of the water,  splashing in a deep blue seaSo awesome to see!

Need-To-Know Info About Private Charters

The Season

Private whale watching season on Cape Cod starts in earnest in June and goes until September.

That's not to say you won't find a charter in May or October. Some captains do have a longer season. (Chatham Bars Inn's whale watches come to mind. Their season normally runs from April through October.)

But most captains start their season after Memorial Day and wrap it up before Columbus Day.

Reservations & Cancellations

Reservations are a must!

Is there a chance that you'll find an open charter at the last minute? Maybe. But I wouldn't count on it.

Reserve your date sooner than later to avoid disappointment.

Cancelling your reservation at the last minute normally means forfeiting your deposit.

What's the "last minute"?

Some charters allow you to cancel, with no forfeiture of deposit, up to 14 days before your scheduled trip date.

For others, it might be 7 or 10 days before the trip date. And for a few, the deposit is non-refundable unless the captain cancels.

Hopefully, you won't need to cancel. But on the off chance you might, then please, please, please learn what your chosen charter's cancellation terms are before you reserve.

If you can't find that information on the charter's website, call or message the captain for details.

Passenger Limits

U.S. Coast Guard regulations limit the number of passengers a charter boat may have onboard at any time.

For most private whale watching boats on Cape Cod, the maximum is 6 passengers. (*Note: Children are included in the passenger count!

If your group is larger than the maximum number of passengers allowed, your options are:

Taking Young Children on a Private Charter

When someone asks me, "Is my child too young for a private charter?", my answer is: "It depends on the child."

I've known 3 year-olds who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I've also known 5 and 6 year-olds who weren't quite ready for it. 

Is your little one ready? Only you can decide - using your best judgment, of course.

Assuming your chosen charter allows very young children onboard (some don't), here are a few important things to consider:

  • Life vests. Will your child be okay with wearing a flotation device for the duration of the trip?

    Children under the age of 12 must wear a US Coast Guard-approved flotation device at all times when above deck and the boat is underway. That's the law.

  • Weather and sea conditions. How might your young one react to being on a boat in less-than-perfect weather and sea conditions?

    Unless the captain determines it's too dangerous to go out, expect that the charter will go, even in rainy weather and sometimes choppy seas. Having a wet and/or queasy child onboard is not fun for anyone.

  • Creature comforts. Might your child need access to a bathroom during the trip?

    Some private charter boats have a "head", others don't. If it's important to have access to a toilet while you're out on the water, find out about the boat's amenities before you reserve. 

    And last but not least ...

  • Following instructions. Is your child old enough to understand and follow the captain's instructions without putting up a fuss?

    For the safety of everyone onboard, all passengers must follow the captain/crew's instructions. That includes staying seated when the captain or crew member says to sit. We all know what a challenge sitting quietly can be for some youngsters when they're at that "busy" stage. ;-)

What to Wear for Whale Watching

A few items are must-haves when you're going out on the water: 

  • Closed-toe shoes. As comfy as sandals or flip-flops are, they do very little to protect against banged-up toes or slipping on a wet boat deck.

    Some captains won't allow passengers to wear sandals or flip-flops onboard. Others strongly recommend against it - as do I. 

    One more thing about boating footwear: black soles are a major "no-no". The dark scuff marks they leave are a devil to remove from the deck!

    Do yourself - and the boat - a favor. Wear close-toed shoes that have light-colored, non-scuff soles and good traction. 

  • Sun block. The sun's rays reflecting off the water can fry you to a crisp more quickly than you might imagine, even on an overcast day. So wearing sun block is a must-do.

    *Important: When the mist from spray-on sun block drifts onto a damp boat deck, it creates a mini oil slick. If you plan to re-apply sunscreen while you're onboard, be sure take lotion with you - not spray.

  • Jacket or cover-up. This falls into the category of "better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."

    It's much cooler on the water than it is on land. And when a stray shower pops up or the fog rolls in, a hooded, water-resistant windbreaker is worth its weight in gold!

* Tip: These "packable" pullovers are a staple in my wardrobe. I have three of them. :-)

One stays in my boat bag, just in case I might need it while I'm on the water. 

The others are everyday wear. Love that zippered front pocket for safely stashing my phone and keys when I'm out and about!

  • Polarized sunglasses. You'll be amazed at how much more you can see when you're wearing a good pair of polarized sunglasses.

    Polarized lenses cut through the water's glare, allowing you to see dolphins, fish, turtles, seals - and yes, whales - swimming below surface. 

    You never know what aquatic critters you'll spot while you're offshore. Wearing the right kind of sunglasses will help you see it all. :-)

Related Pages:

Whale Watching on the "Big Boats"

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