Cape Cod Whale Watching boat - tips for whale watching

A Whale Watching trip is a one of a kind experience. Being prepared for the trip will make your cruise much more enjoyable. After partaking in a fantastic whale watching tour this past weekend, I have come up with a list of handy tips to help out first timers.

On the lookout for whale - Plymouth MA

Budgeting for your Whale Watching Trip

*Check Groupon for deals – Sign up for deals in your destination city a few weeks before your intended trip. I was lucky enough to find a half off voucher.

*Check for discounted tickets online – The company I took a cruise with offers a discount with purchase of online tickets. Just a few dollars, however, every little bit helps!

*Check for coupon/travel booklets – These are usually located in a hotel lobby, shop, or restaurant. Many offer discounts for whale watching and other local attractions and activities.

*Bring a water bottle – Bottled water on the boat cost over $2 a piece – save some money and bring with your own!

*Eat lunch before boarding – The snacks on board are expensive, and mostly consist of convenience type foods. Also, bring a few snacks with you – the cruises are pretty lengthy. A granola, trail mix, or dried fruit should work well.

*Skip the souvenir photo – Take your own photo and buy a nice frame to commemorate your trip. It will be much cheaper and more personalized. For the outrageous prices they charge, you could easily buy a nice frame.

Whale sighting in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Planning Your Whale Watching Trip

*Book your trip in advance to ensure you get a seat – Seats fill up fast during the summer months. Also, call ahead of time to make sure they are still running the boat. We drove over an hour and had to turn home because the boat was out of fuel. I wish we would have called earlier.

*Get to the boat early if you want a good seat – We thought getting to the boat 15 minutes in advance was enough time, however, the boat was already completely packed and the upper level full.

*Choose an early cruise for a more peaceful trip – The afternoon trips are much more crowded and noisy. It will be easier to get good pictures minus big crowds.

*Research peak whale times in the area – You want to take your trip at the best time possible. Choose the time when the majority of whales are migrating to the area.

*Make sure your camera/phone is fully charged the night before – The last thing you want is your camera going dead in the middle of your cruise!

whale in Plymouth MA cruise

What to bring with on the boat

*Always bring with a sweater and/or jacket – Even if the weather outside is hot, it will be windy and cooler on the water. For our trip, the temperature outside was in the 80’s, I had a sweater, and I was still cold. Really cold! Many people on the boat who were not prepared looked very uncomfortable and some even went inside the dining area! I imagine it would be a miserable experience being freezing the entire trip.

*Bring with a wind jacket – This is something I really wish I would have thought to bring! Wow was it windy out on the water!

*Wear gym shoes – Skip the sandals. You will need to move around frequently to get the best views and pictures of the whales. We frequently had to go back and forth from one end of the boat to the other as the whale moved around. It is easier to move around fast with comfortable shoes.

*Bring with sunblock & sunglasses – Remember you can still get sunburn even when it is cloudy. Also, the sun is pretty strong when the boat isn’t moving. I wish I would have thought to bring a pair of sunglasses – it is much easier to spot whales without squinting in the sunlight! Also, pictures with a squinty face do not turn out well!

*Don’t forget a camera – I recommend putting away the camera phone and bringing with a real camera. Make sure to set it up on continuous mode as well so you can choose between photos when you get home. Take plenty of pictures – I’d rather have too many! You can always delete extras later on.

Humpback Whale Tail - Plymouth, MA

Enjoy your trip! Whale watching is a fun nature experience, which is both relaxing, educational, and fun!