If you get lucky, whale watching in Boston is absolutely incredible.
The New England Aquarium in Boston is a lot of fun. However, the best part is not inside the aquarium itself: their partner company offers whale watching tours right next to the main building (from spring to fall). I’ve been 3 times and would definitely go again. Try to go during morning or early afternoon tours because you have a better chance of seeing whales then. I’ve been on a sunset whale watch trip with them where we saw so few whales they gave us free tickets to come back and try again. Tickets are around $50 per adult and a little less for children.
The tour lasts almost 4 hours and takes you out onto the ocean; there are several things you will want to pack. Things to pack: an extra layer of clothing, food, medicine you use for sea sickness, a camera, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Once we got on the boat, we sailed for about an hour before getting to the general area where we started searching for whales. The best place to be to get unobstructed views and be as close as possible to any sightings is the front of the ship. That area becomes crowded quickly so you will have to make your way early. How early will depend on everyone else on the boat: there aren’t any seats at the front and it’s a long way from the dock to seeing whales. I stood close to the front on each of my tours after 30 minutes of being on the ship. Once we arrived in the general whale sightings area, there was still a lot of searching involved. On each of my trips, I had a slightly different experience from this point onwards.
My first trip wasn’t very eventful. It was a sunset tour, and there was a lot of searching involved. I stood near the front for what felt like hours. It was a bit chilly on the water with all the wind, and my clothes were covered in small droplets of water. We caught glimpses of a couple of fin whales and humpback whales from a distance. However, this experience was so dissatisfying that we all got free tickets to come back again. What was nice about this tour was the view of Boston during sunset.
The second time I went was much more fun. It was a morning tour and we saw many humpback whales. This time, much less searching and much more following. We saw a handful of large humpback whales swimming and breaching. Until you get close, it’s hard to truly appreciate how big this creatures are. I definitely got several classic shots of their tails going into the water. This trip is what I imagine most whale tours are like.
The third time I went was quite special. It was another morning tour, a bit chilly on the water, and lots of moisture droplets everywhere. This time, however, we found a special group of whales quite early on: it was a trio of humpbacks that included a male, a female, and a calf. They followed the boat for quite some time. The calf was in a great mood and decided to put on a show for us. He started by breaching several times so we could get a good look at his face and tail. He was soooo close to the ship we really got a chance to marvel at its size and beauty. Then, he started to really show off. He started performing acrobatics and jumping out of the water. During some jumps, it almost looked like he was trying to fly. It was absolutely incredible. This wasn’t a small trained dolphin jumping; it was a massive animal. Take a look at some of the pictures I took:
Needless to say that this third trip was just incredible. To get such a show up close was an experience I will not forget. So, to summarize, if you are in Boston during warmer weather and can spare half a day, take your chance with some whale watching and you might have a special experience.