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In addition to being known for wide expanses of unspoiled natural beauty, Maine is also known for its incredible wildlife; after all, it’s one of the few states in the US where you can see unique creatures like moose and puffins… how awesome is that???
And when you look out to sea, there’s even more to see (pun proudly intended!) because in and around Maine’s coast you can find harbor seals, dolphins, and yes, that most mighty and magical sea creature, the whale.
Whale watching tours are the way to go if you want to have an encounter with one of these beautiful animals for yourself, and we’ve rounded up the best places for whale watching in Maine here.
Best Time for Whale Watching in Maine
The best time of year for whale watching in Maine is typically mid-April to October, before the whales leave this area for warmer waters in the south.
In Maine’s waters, you have potential to see Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin, Sei Whales, Northern Right Whale, Blue Whales, Sperm Whales, the Long Finned Pilot Whale, and more, in addition to the other marine wildlife that’s so plentiful in this area.
The best part about taking a professional whale watching tour is that the experts know exactly how to maximize your chances of seeing these gorgeous creatures; all you have to do is show up!
So grab your binoculars, dress in warm layers (remember it’s going to be significantly cooler out on the open water than it is on land), pack your just-in-case Dramamine, and be sure to have the sunscreen handy as you head out on your Maine whale watching trip!
Best Whale Watching in Maine
First Chance Whale Watch in Kennebunk ME
At First Chance Whale Watch, Captain Gary takes his role as whale watching guide very seriously as he has been Captain since 1998, learning all about the whales that can be found in the area and where to find them.
The boat cruises from lovely Kennebunkport, and at 87ft from bow to stern, has plenty of space for real-time viewing and excellent photo ops with the whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife you might end up spotting!
Restrooms and a snack galley with light refreshments are available onboard, and First Chance Whale Watch also welcomes you to bring your own snacks if you prefer. The whale watching tour is typically about 4 ½ hours long, so plan to spend the afternoon out enjoying the open sea. Reservations can be made online or by calling 207 967 5507.
Eastport Windjammers in Eastport ME
Family-run for over 50 years, Eastport Windjammers is the best whale watching in Eastport, Maine and beyond, and their 2 ½ to 3-hour whale watching tour takes visitors past the Old Sow, the largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere and a major Downeast tourist attraction. In addition to Old Sow, you also get to cruise on by East Quoddy Lighthouse, the Canadian lighthouse with the delightfully distinctive red and white cross.
In addition to the whales that love to play in the tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy, you’re also likely to see seals sunning themselves on the rocks, porpoises playing in the waves, and a bald eagle or two soaring through the air.
On the way back to port, lobster traps are brought up and passengers get a hands-on experience with the on-board touch tank, often containing starfish, crabs, sea urchins, and lobsters. A chance to see whales and hold starfish? SIGN ME UP! Reserve your spot by calling 207 853 2500.
Cap’n Fishes Whale Watch in Boothbay Harbor ME
Passed down through three generations, Cap’n Fishes Whale Watch sails out of the lovely seaside town of Boothbay Harbor May through October and claims the title of the Original Whale Watch Cruise in the Mid Coast region of Maine. In addition to the expert guidance and narration provided by Maine’s top marine biologists, you will also be riding in style in one of the fastest whale-watching vessels on the Midcoast!
Comfort comes easy with padded seats, tables, food and drink from the galley, restrooms, and speakers conveniently situated throughout the vessel so narration can be easily heard from anywhere on the boat; not only does Cap’n Fishes Whale Watch offer rain checks if you don’t see whales on your cruise, but they also make sure you see them in style! Plus, you can also opt for the Whale & Puffin Combo Cruise… how’s that for an absolutely perfect afternoon? Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the ticket booth same day.
Odyssey Whale Watch in Portland ME
May through October, Odyssey Whale Watch in Portland gears up to cruise out of Casco Bay in search of whales, dolphins, sunfish, sea turtles, and all the other incredible marine wildlife that can be found off the shores of Portland! Snacks, beverages (and bar!), restrooms, and the onboard naturalist guide make a trip out on Odyssey Whale Watch an absolute treat!
Rainchecks are given if no whales are sighted, and if that happens, it’s not like you’d need another reason to come back to Portland anyway, right? Between the beautiful lighthouses, the awesome breweries, and the fun Airbnbs, there’s plenty to see and do for a fun weekend in Portland; a tour with Odyssey Whale Watch is just icing on the cake, so make your reservations now!
New England Eco Adventures in Kennebunkport ME
New England Eco Adventures has a diverse offering of adventures at sea. For those looking to find whales in Maine, the 4 hour Ultimate Whale Watch boasts a 97% whale sighting success rate, with an evergreen non-sighting pass that can be used to book tours for free until you do see one!
In fact, they say this Kennebunk whale watching tour is like enjoying three tours in one: seals, Boon Island, and of course, the whales. This tour accommodates up to 20, so it’s an intimate whale watching experience where everyone has a view! You’ll have a chance to see a variety of whales off the coast of Kennebunkport.
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co in Bar Harbor ME
A visit to Bar Harbor during whale watching season wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include a voyage out into the Gulf of Maine with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co! Bar Harbor is one of the most charming small towns in New England, and Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co is an incredible testament to this lovely town, offering cruises for whale watching, puffin and lighthouse viewing, lobster fishing, and more.
Feel free to bring your own snacks or buy onboard from their cash-only galley (adult beverages also available) and make yourself comfortable for the 3 to 5-hour tour, enjoying the islands, lighthouses, and all the incredible scenery that makes this area of Maine so special.
Vouchers for another visit are available if you don’t see whales, but with a success rate of 90-95%, that probably won’t be a problem! You’re also likely to see dolphins, porpoises, seals, and other interesting wildlife on your cruise. Reservations are recommended and can be made online.
Downeast Charter Boat Tours, Lubec ME
Tours last about 2 1/2 hours long, and you can expect to see lots of marine wildlife like seals, porpoises, and seabirds, and of course, the occasional whale! With a maximum passenger capacity of 6, you can be sure that there isn’t a bad seat on this boat.
In addition to group whale watching tours, you can also charter your very own whale-watching expedition if you’d prefer to go that route: Robertson Sea Tours in Milbridge no longer offers dedicated whale watch tours, but they do still catch glimpses of whales on their marine wildlife tours, and Seafairi Charters in Kittery has private whale watching charters available for up to 20 people!
There are so many great places to visit in Maine, and so much to see and do. Whether you’re looking for a day on the beach, a visit to some of the hidden gem Maine islands, or you’re looking to get out on the water and go whale watching, enjoy your trip!
Read these next:
- 7 Dazzling Puffin Tours in Maine
- Best Whale Watching in Massachusetts: 12 Highly Rated Tours
- Best Whale Watching in Cape Cod (Plus Seal Tours!)