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To the Rescue: Choosing a Whale Watching Tour

We wrapped up our travels in Hawaii with aquatic life, and I stumbled upon some great tips for choosing a whale-watching tour no matter where you are. First and foremost, please remember you are getting the lucky opportunity to spot these creatures in their natural environment and you should never do anything to put them in jeopardy. Before making the pick, ask yourself if the tour operators are putting the animal first and not making any promises (i.e., money-back guarantee) that could cause them to take unnecessary risks. In addition to doing your research (and asking for recommendations), consider the following questions:

  • Why are they doing this? Check the training of the crew members – you're there to learn and it's important to know about their training, study, research participation, and length of experience observing whales before you set sail.
  • How much time do they dedicate? You'll want to book a trip that brings the whale watching front and center. It's a good sign when the company actually works in whale research year-round and makes that the primary focus of their business – and not just making it a seasonal alternative to a diving or cruise business.
  • See a couple more when you


  • How will you share the space? It's important to know who you'll be traveling with (check for maximum passenger loads). You'll want to have the room to move around and take pictures as well as picking a legit company that is respectful of the animals and guidelines in place, and not just promising the closest glance you'll get.
  • What features does the boat have? Check the price compared to the length of the trip, any included items, and boat features. Many recommend catamarans equipped with hydrophones to hear the whale song while onboard.


Join The Conversation
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I love whale watching, I've been a few times here in California. I also suggest asking if they keep in touch with the other boating companies. Some do, so when they find a spot with whales, they'll let others know. Also ask what they've seen in the last few days, that helps too. The last one I went on I didn't see any whales and when I asked the guy that he just shrugged. I was like uh okay, do you do any research on it? And he said no they're usually around here. great.
crystallyn crystallyn 9 years
When I moved to Boston from Seattle, I noticed something rather interesting. In Seattle, they don't guarantee you will see a whale, but if you go deep-sea fishing they guarantee you will catch a fish. It's the opposite in Boston. They will guarantee you will see a whale (and most likely beautiful black atlantic dolphins too) but no guarantee on catching a fish. Whale watches from Provincetown are usually better than going from Boston as you will tend to be in deeper sea. I've always seen whales when I've gone. Gorgeous creatures. And the dolphins swimming with the boat are absolutely amazing.
CanadianInVA CanadianInVA 9 years
I would love to do one of these it sounds like so much fun. PJ, what a great surprise!
PJ-PJ-PJ PJ-PJ-PJ 9 years
The sweetest thing my husband has ever done for me was surprise me with a whale watching tour. (I love whales.) I was visiting him in Boston & it was the most fun weekend I've ever had with him. There were 4 Humpback whales, including a calf. They were all breaching, playing, & feeding. The mother even let the calf come pretty close to the boat. It was very exciting!
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