Whale Watching in Provincetown MA
Provincetown, MA, on the far north end of Cape Cod is known for its artistic vibe and friendliness towards the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a free, safe space where everyone can go and just be themselves and enjoy the beautiful beaches and coastline. The town is full of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, inns, little shops, and old lighthouses. There’s always something to do and some new event to experience.
Whale Watching Season and Best Time of Year to Go
The best time to go whale watching in Provincetown is from mid-April through the end of October. Whales spend much of their time in the spring, summer, and fall months feeding. No matter what time of day you choose to go looking for them, there’s a very good chance you’ll see some whale activity.
Humpback whales feed at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary all season long, from April to October. In the spring, (April and May), you may sight some of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales passing through. Waterways around Cape Cod often have speed restrictions to protect visiting right whales. Finback whales can be seen for the whole season. If you’re lucky, you may see a Great White Shark or some Minke whales. Dolphins, porpoises, and ocean sunfish (Mola Mola) are common sightings during a whale watch trip in this area.
Best Whale Watch Tours in Provincetown
All whale watching tours in Provincetown take you out to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This area of the Atlantic is a haven for ocean mammals, and whales spend their summers here feeding and socializing. The area is so busy with whale life that tour operators can actually guarantee you’ll see whales when you’re there. This prime Atlantic location coupled with the magical warmth of Provincetown makes it one of the best places for whale watching in the US. Here are the top whale watching tours you can choose from:
Sea Salt Charters
Sea Salt Charters offers both private and public whale watching tours. The tours travel to Stellwagen Bank and last 3-4 hours. A private tour takes your group of up to six people and ranges in price from $625-$690 depending on the month you go (July and August are peak pricing). The public, or “shared” tours cost $165 per person. Both tour options run from June 4 – October 1, 2023, so if you’re planning your Provincetown visit in April, May, or late October, opt for Beth Ann Charters instead.
Beth Ann Charters
Beth Ann Charters has private four-hour whale watching tours for groups of up to six people. This year’s tour season runs from April 29 to October 21, 2023. Prices range from $625-$775 plus tax, depending on how many people are in your group and which boat you pick.
There are two different boats you can choose from – Bethie (29-foot Dyer; $625-$675) and Beth Ann (38-foot Wesmac; $675-$775). In our opinion, Beth Ann is the superior option because she has more room to walk around, and the cabin is larger with bigger windows in case you want to lounge inside during the ride out. Whichever you choose, be sure to book in advance to make sure you get the time and boat you want.
Many tour operators won’t let you bring your own snacks, alcohol, or other beverages, but Beth Ann and Sea Salt both let you. They have ice coolers you can use as well as dry storage areas onboard for your personal items.
Provincetown Bucket List
- Catch the sunset from Race Point Beach.
- Walk along Commercial Street in downtown Provincetown. The street is packed with quaint little shops, restaurants, and art galleries that capture the essence of this beautiful place.
- See a lighthouse. There are three in Provincetown, but the Race Point Lighthouse is the oldest. It was built in 1816 and is still active today.
- Finally, the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown has a number of whale-related educational events, including:
- Whale Week 2023 (July 29 – August 5). Learn all about marine wildlife, conservation, and protecting the coastline.
Provincetown is about a 2.5-hour drive from Boston if you don’t make any stops – which is hard to do considering all the cute towns and iconic coastline. If you do decide to drive, give yourself a full day to make the trip out there. If you’re not from the area, you’ll want to check out Plymouth, where the Pilgrims first settled in 1620. There’s also a plethora of delicious breakfast spots and quaint lunch cafes along the way. Don’t miss the Mass Audobon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in South Wellfleet, where you’ll find salt marshes, hiking trails and an aquarium.
If you want to fast-track your travels and just relax, opt for the ferry from Boston. It takes 90 minutes and costs around $65 per person (runs May 16-Oct 9, 2023). It often sells out on weekends, holidays, and during peak season, so make sure you book your tickets in advance.