Whale watching in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of the top whale watching destinations in the world. If you never have been whale watching, I highly recommend adding this fantastic experience to your travel bucket list. Captain John’s Whale Watching Tours in Plymouth, Massachusetts, provide a scenic, affordable, & informative tour. The nice thing about this tour is that they guarantee sightings or else you get to come back again! They communicate with other boats on the water to ensure sightings each time, so don’t worry you will probably see more than enough to get some great photos!

A whale watching trip is an excellent way to spend the morning or afternoon in Plymouth. Seeing a whale up close in its’ natural habitat is an amazing opportunity. The cruise is conveniently located near other tourist attractions such as Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower replica, Burial Hill, and other historical sites, so you have plenty of options for sightseeing in the area either before or after your trip. Captain John’s Whale Watch Tour was a scenic, educational experience which left us with both great memories and photographs!

Captain John whale watching boat in Plymouth, MA

Captain John Boats – the best tour in the region

The boat itself is pretty large, with both an upper and lower deck for viewing. The cruise lasts between 3.5-4.5 hours. There is a small snack shop/cafe on board serving lunch items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and snacks. For breakfast, eggs and toast are available.

The tour guide provides plenty of historical information, including information about the whales themselves, and landmarks along the way. The tour guides let you know when a whale has been spotted and conveniently points you in the best direction for the best views and photography. They also carefully move the boat in the direction of the whale to try to get a better view.

Whale watching in Plymouth, Massachusetts

It takes about 45 minutes to get out to the whale watching area, however, the views of the ocean along the way are breathtaking. Along, the way you will also pass various islands and lighthouses. Make sure to bring with a jacket even if it is really warm out because the ride over can be incredibly windy and cold!

The Duxbury Pier Lighthouse

Duxybury Point Lighthouse seen from whale watching trip in Plymouth, MA

Whale sightings!

We were able to take plenty of amazing photographs and videos of humpback whales, which are what you will see during this cruise. Several times the whale was directly in front of the boat. What an incredible sight to see this amazing animal up close! Seeing the whale’s huge outline underneath the water is definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

Underwater view of a humpback whale in Plymouth, MA

One of the cool aspects of this experience was the ability to spot whales by a green pigment in the water. The area that looks green is actually the white on the humpback’s pectoral flippers. The flippers only appear green because of the plankton rich New England waters. Look for the green in the pic above.

The pectoral flipper looks green underneath the water making it easy to track the whales

Humpback whale's flipper looks green underwater - Plymouth, MA

We were able to snap a few photos of the whale showing its’ dorsal fin. Take a look at some of the photos below!

View of a humback whale's dorsal fin - Plymouth, MA
View of a humpback whale's dorsal fin - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip
View of the dorsal fin on a humpback whale - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip

Here’s a pic of the humpback showing the pectoral fin…

Humpback whale showing pectoral fin - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip

We were also able to get a few amazing photos of the humpback whale’s tail flapping. Take a look at the fantastic shots below!

Humpback Whale Tail - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip
Humpback Whale Tail - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip
Humpback Whale Tail - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip
Humpback Whale Tail - Plymouth, MA whale watching trip

The return trip is a great time to relax and enjoy the beautiful ocean scenery. I also snapped a few great photographs of Plymouth Rock, which looks stunning as you are arriving into Plymouth Harbor.

Plymouth Rock as seen from a whale watching trip
View of Plymouth Rock from a whale watching trip

What to bring on the trip

*Bring with a sweater and/or wind jacket. The ride over is very windy and very cold. Even with a sweater I was absolutely freezing, and it was in the mid 80’s. Bring with a jacket even if it is 90 degrees out – you will thank yourself later on!

*Sunglasses and sunblock will come in handy. When the boat is still, the sun is strong. You will be able to see the whales better without a glare.

*Bring extra camera batteries, if needed. I saw several people run out on the boat.

*Cash, if you intend to eat/drink on board.

*Motion sickness pills – the water is pretty rough at times. If you get motion sickness, make sure to bring with/take something in advance of your trip.

Plymouth Whale Watching Tips

*Scan Groupon for deals. I found a great deal – 2 tickets for $62 plus a $10 food voucher. The normal price is $47 per adult, so this is a fantastic deal!

*The best time to whale watch in the area is during the summer months. During this time, you will see the most whales as the water temperatures are at their warmest.

*Park in the free parking lot by Burial Hill (Leyden St. Plymouth, MA) The walk to the waterfront is only 2-3 blocks. Parking in the area is expensive and meters run 7 days a week, so this is your best option 🙂

*Set up your camera on continuous mode, so you can get the best pics possible. Taking single shots will not be fast enough to ensure a great photo. The whales come in and out of the water very quickly.

*Eat before your trip – Remember that you will be on the boat for several hours! There is a small snack shop on the boat (note – cash only), but a nice lunch somewhere along the waterfront should fill you up before your trip. I recommend Carmen’s Cafe Nicole – delicious sandwiches and nice water views! Mamma Mia’s Italian is another wonderful choice that I find myself going back to over and over again.

*Get to the boat early if you want to pick your seat. We got there about 15 minutes in advance and the boat was already packed.

*Take the early morning (9:00am) cruise if you want a less crowded experience.

*Make reservations in advance before making the drive/walk over. The boat only holds a limited number of people, and you do not want to have to turn around once you get there!

*Pick up a coupon booklet at a restaurant or shop around Plymouth. You will find discounts for the whale watch cruise.

Check out this video of a whale up close by the boat!

Location/Pricing Details

Captain John’s Whale Watching Tours
Location: 10 Town Wharf
Plymouth, MA 02362
Ticket Prices: $67 per adult, $47 per child (12 and under), $57 for seniors. You will receive a discount if you book online. 2023 Update: Prices are now $73 per adult, $63 senior, $53 child.
Schedule: Cruises from from April – October and depart at 9:00am or 2:00pm. Days of the week vary by month. Check the schedule for available cruises.

Whale watching cruise - Plymouth, MA