Whale Watching Tours

A whale watch trip can be one of the highlights of a vacation to Cape Cod. In fact, this area (the waters off Cape Cod and the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary) is considered one of the top whale watching sites in the world.

The most commonly viewed large whales are humpbacks — distinguished by their large sizes (up to 45 feet in length), especially long flippers, bushy blows, and often showy behaviors, including breaching (leaping out of the water), flipper slaps and tail slaps. The humpbacks have learned a variety of techniques for capturing their prey. Some whales use bubble clouds (masses of bubbles) or bubble nets (a ring of bubbles) to surround and confuse the schools of fish they feast upon. With its mouth open, the whale rises to the surface through the ring or cloud, capturing masses of fish in its massive mouth.

Finbacks are another large whale — second in size only to the blue whale. Reaching lengths of 75 feet or so, "finners" are the greyhounds of the ocean — fast and sleek. These whales can sometimes be seen lunging for fish in short, sharp bursts of speed. Fin whales have a small dorsal fin well back on their bodies — when they dive you get to see a lot of back (but the flukes are seldom raised).

Minkes are the smallest of the great whales that regularly visit Stellwagen Bank. They tend to be less demonstrative than humpbacks, although some can be seen diving for fish when prey is around. Minkes have distinctive white patches (sometimes called "bandages") on their flippers. In the world's oceans, these are the most common great whale, and these animals are hunted by commercial whalers in several nations.

Of course, one of the highlights of a whalewatch may be the opportunity to watch from the side of the boat as a group of dolphins ride the bow wake. As the vessel speeds along, animals will trade places as they parallel the boat's track. The species found here is the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, distinguished by its bands of white and yellow that run along each side of its body.

In addition to these more commonly seen species, visitors to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary have also seen harbor porpoises, pilot whales and northern right whales (the most endangered great whale on the planet). An occasional glimpse of a sei whale, blue whale or sperm whale can sometimes be had. Occasionally, a lone Beluga Whale will make several appearances in the sanctuary.

To find out more about sanctuary species and whale behaviors, visit the free Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Exhibit at 115 Bradford Street in Provincetown.

Dolphin Fleet
305 Commercial St, Provincetown
800-826-9300, 508-240-3636

A naturalist accompanies every cruise to serving as an interpretive guide to the ecology and natural history of Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays with emphasis on whales, other marine life and marine birds passengers are likely to see.

With the research collected on board the Dolphin Fleet well over 1,300 humpback whales have been identified since 1975, with this data we can provide our passengers with the personal histories on many of the humpbacks found in our area.

Portuguese Princess Whale Watch,
132 Bradford St, Provincetown 800-442-3188 

The Portuguese Princess has merged with Dolphin Fleet of Provincetown to raise quality in vessel standards and educational value. This merger brings many added benefits for the Portuguese Princess. The vessel itself will be restored to it’s original beauty, raised quality in it’s overall appearance and of course a fun and educational trip for passengers of all ages. 

Hyannis Whale Watcher
269 Millway Rd, Barnstable Harbor
(508) 362-6088, (800) 287-0374

Highlight your Cape Cod vacation with an unforgettable cruise aboard the Mid-Cape's only Whale Watch. Our high speed state-of-the-art vessel sails daily—May through October—from picturesque Barnstable Harbor.

Since 1981, Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises of Cape Cod has been offering whale watch adventures as a platform for conservation and education to people of all ages from around the world. Throughout your whale watching adventure, our expert naturalists will share an intriguing look into the "wonderful world of whales". They will also provide commentary on the local ecology and history of this unique area.