Whale Watching in Provincetown MA

Whale Watching in Provincetown MA

A long stretch of sunny serene beach.

Provincetown is situated on the north tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The town is known for its artistic vibe and friendliness towards the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a free and safe space where everyone can go and just be themselves and enjoy the beautiful beaches and coastline. It also has an abundance of boutique shops, galleries, restaurants, and old lighthouses. There’s always something going on here, but more importantly, it’s a one of the very best places in the world to go whale watching.

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.

Two dogs sitting outside a cafe in Provincetown.

Species

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. Fin 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 go 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 tours ran 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. Check back here in February for the updated 2024 schedule.

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 ran 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 unique 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.
Race point lighthouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Race Point Lighthouse in Provincetown, Massachusetts
  • Finally, the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown has a number of whale-related educational events, including:
    • Whale Week 2024 (Dates TBD; it’s usually the end of July or first week of August). Learn all about marine wildlife, conservation, and protecting the coastline.
    • Sea Space Marine Discovery Center has staff onsite ready to educate about the surrounding ocean wildlife.
    • Check out their event calendar (updated monthly) to learn all about whales while you’re in Provincetown. There’s not much going on here in the winter months but you can check back in spring for new events.

Winter Activities

Whale season is over for 2023, but you can still explore the town and soak up the stunning coastline:

Getting Here

Provincetown is about a 2.5-hour drive from Boston if you don’t make any stops – which is hard to do with all the quaint towns and iconic coastline. If you do decide to drive, give yourself a full day to make the trip out here. You can check out Plymouth, where the Pilgrims first settled in 1620, or head down to New Bedford to visit the whaling museum (closed on Mondays) to learn all about whale conservation, the history of whaling, and also to see some real whale skeletons which are pretty spectacular. Finally, 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 (runs May through October). It takes 90 minutes and costs around $65 per person. It often sells out on weekends, holidays, and during peak season, so make sure you book your tickets in advance.