1 West Street Bar Harbor, ME 04609
207-288-2386 / 1-888-WHALES-4

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Whale Watching FAQ

  • Lobster FAQ

Q: What kind of whales do we hope to see?
We most frequently see humpback, finback, minke, and right whales. We also have the chance to see atlantic white-sided dolphins, harbor porpoise, harbor and grey seals, pilot whales, and many seabirds!

Q: What is our success rate seeing whales?
Our success rate in most years is often over 90%, however, every year is different. The number of whales goes up and down through the season but our peak season is typically from mid-June to mid-August. One advantage we have is great speed with our boats and we are willing to go far to search. We also know the best areas to search after nearly thirty years of whale watching in this region. The weather makes an enormous difference and when the seas are calm and it is clear and sunny it makes a big difference in the quality of the tour. Please look at the marine forecast for schoodic point to Rockland and seas of 2-4’ or less. Whales are wild creatures and often follow schools of fish and plankton and whales move around.

Q: Can I buy food or drinks on board?
Yes! We have a cash-only galley with hot and cold beverages, hot and cold snacks including chips, cheeseburgers, soft pretzels, as well as alcoholic beverages for those of age.

Q: Will I get seasick?
Our high speed catamarans are very comfortable, and do not move through the water like traditional mono-hulled vessels. However, we go to sea in a range of conditions, so if you know you are prone to motion sickness, or are worried, we suggest taking ONE form of motion sickness medicine before coming on board. If you are taking Bonine or Dramamine, it is more effective if it is in your system for a few hours before you depart the dock. Feel free to ask a crew member what the sea conditions are and they can help you assess.

Q: Is this trip good for small children?
This trip is great for younger children, and the carpeted interior provides a safe location for them. However, small children are prone to seasickness. We inform every one of the weather and sea state before each trip and encourage people with small children not to go on days when the sea conditions could result in seasickness.

Q: How do I deal with seasickness?
We inform every one of the weather and sea state before each trip and encourage people prone to motion sickness or seasickness not to go on days when the sea conditions could result in sea sickness. If you do find yourself feeling a little unwell on one of our vessels we recommend the following:

  • Get some fresh air
  • Look at the horizon, your brain is able to match the information your ear is sending to manage seasickness
  • Sit somewhere mid-ship on the first deck
  • Use Dramamine or an acupressure wristband (we sell both in the Galley)
  • Ask a crew member for help – we are here to help!

We are not trained medical professionals and this advice is not a replacement for a visit to your physician.

Q: How far offshore do we travel?
We travel to specific whale-feeding grounds, which are anywhere from 20-40 miles offshore. We generally travel for about an hour to and from the whale grounds. Any deviation from this trip plan will be announced before we leave the dock.

Q: Is it foggy?
The Gulf of Maine is one of the foggiest locations on the planet, and it is difficult to spot whales in these conditions. Our vessels are equipped with technology that allows us to navigate safely in foggy conditions, but we do not use this technology to find whales. Instead, we use our senses, usually our ears!

Q: What type of vessel will we travel on?
We have two whale watch vessels: the Friendship V and the Atlanticat. These are high-speed catamarans that provide a very comfortable ride and have interior and exterior seating, restrooms, and a galley.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
Unfortunately, we do not allow dogs on this trip, except for documented service dogs

Q: How do we find whales? Do we feed them?
We don’t feed our whales! These animals eat thousands of pounds of small fish every day. To find whales, we look for their blow, or breath! On a clear, windless day, we can see their exhale from a few miles away! On foggy days, we can listen for their breath. Within about ½ mile, we can hear their exhales or bodies splashing.

Q: What’s a puffin?
A puffin is a small bird, about 10” long, that is a member of the alcid family. They are diving birds, who use their wings to propel themselves through the water, catching fish. These birds are pelagic, which means they do not spend time on land, except for nesting.

Q: Where do we go to see puffins?
We go to Petit Manan Island, which is a protected seabird nesting island. There, we have the opportunity to see terns, razorbills, and puffins in their nesting habitat. Puffins create burrows in the granite rocks on the shoreline where they raise their young.

Q: Will we get to go ashore Petit Manan Island?
Petit Manan is a protected island, and our boats do not facilitate shore landings. We will view the island, and the birds, from our ship. Be prepared for fly-bys and birds sitting on the water!

Q: Does it actually get cold offshore?
: Yes! The temperature typically drops about 25 degree Fahrenheit offshore. Be prepared with extra layers, jackets, and gloves!

Q: Can I bring food and drink onboard?
Yes! Feel free to bring food and drinks. But please don’t bring hard coolers, alcoholic beverages, or glass bottles.

Q: What time should I arrive?
We recommend arriving 45-minutes to 1-hour before the trip departs.

Q: Why do I need my ID to go on this trip?
A: Harbor Place, where our boats depart from, is a secure facility. Because of the number of passengers we carry and the distance we travel offshore, we require each adult over the age of 18 to carry a photo ID. We will visually verify as you board the vessel.

Q: What items are prohibited on the trip?
A: Coolers, alcohol, illicit drugs, weapons of any kind and anything contained in glass are prohibited. Please also refrain from smoking on board our vessels.

Q: What happens if my trip gets cancelled due to inclement weather?
A: The decision to cancel is made 1-1.5 hrs before a trip’s departure. We do our best to alert passengers as quickly as possible. If you ordered tickets online or over the phone and provided an email address, please check your email before arrival to confirm the status of your trip. You can also call our office at (207) 288-2386 from an hour to an hour and a half before trip departure. Due to high call volume, our ticket staff will do their best to answer each call as quickly as possible. Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. is not responsible for any parking tickets incurred.

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