Guide to Whale Watching in Maine and Acadia National Park

Maine, a stunning gem of the New England Coast, is renowned for its majestic marine life. Its rugged shores and cold, nutritious waters attract numerous whale species, making it a prime location for those seeking the thrill of witnessing these giants of the sea. Whether watching from shore or out at sea, the opportunities to spot whales are incredible. This guide explores the best seasons, locations, and accommodations for unforgettable Acadia National Park whale watching.

Best Seasons for Whale Watching: Maine to October

The whale watching season in Maine starts in May and winds down by October, perfectly coinciding with Under Canvas Acadia’s season. Spring brings the first sightings as whales arrive to feast on abundant plankton and small fish. Summer offers warm weather and consistent sightings, while fall presents a beautiful transition of nature and the chance to see massive fin whales.

Types of Whales To Watch For

Maine’s rich waters host an array of whale species. Here’s a guide to the most common types of whales you might see:

Humpback Whales

Visiting in spring and summer, these acrobatic giants are known for their breaching and tail-slapping behavior.

Minke Whales

These sleek and fast swimmers are frequent visitors in the spring and summer and can be spotted closer to shore.

Finback Whales

The second-largest whale species, up to 80 feet long, is primarily sighted in fall.

North Atlantic Right Whales

Critically endangered, these stocky, mostly black whales grace Maine’s waters in spring and fall.

Pilot Whales

Encountered in spring and summer, these elusive creatures are a delight to observe as they travel in family groups or “pods.”

Though sightings are much rarer, Orca and Beluga Whales have been spotted off the coast of Maine near Mount Desert Island.

Where to Whale Watch in Maine

Whales sometimes venture close to the shore, providing opportunities for sightings from land, but for a truly awe-inspiring encounter with these marine giants, heading out to sea promises a memorable experience.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park presents an extraordinary vantage point for spotting whales. Whether you’re gazing off the towering cliffs or venturing near the coastal waters, keep your eyes peeled for the magnificent sight of a humpback or North Atlantic right whale. Witnessing the blowhole or breach of these giants is a breathtaking experience that can often be enjoyed right from the shore of this iconic park.

Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is the departure point for many guided whale-watching boat tours. Local guides offer an exciting opportunity to learn about and get close to various whale species, enhanced by the knowledgeable insights of onboard naturalists. Beyond whale-watching, Bar Harbor boasts picturesque views and a lively downtown, making it an appealing destination for those seeking both adventure and coastal charm.

Whale Watching Tips and Safety

Dress Appropriately: Coastal weather can be unpredictable, so packing layers and waterproof gear will ensure you stay warm and dry.

Respect Wildlife: Follow regulations and guidelines provided by guides or authorities and keep a good distance from whales and other marine life.

Stay Patient and Alert: Whale watching often requires patience. Keep your eyes peeled, listen to your guide, and enjoy the overall experience, recognizing that sightings are not guaranteed but often well worth the wait.

Bring Binoculars: While whales can often be seen with the naked eye, binoculars will give you a better viewing experience from a distance.

Choose a Reputable Tour Operator: Opt for a tour company committed to responsible wildlife viewing and conservation efforts.

Where to Stay Near Acadia National Park

Look no further than Under Canvas Acadia, the perfect base camp for a New England getaway and an ideal spot for those interested in Acadia National Park whale watching. Named a 2022 ‘Top 20 Resort in the U.S. – Northeast’ by Condé Nast Traveler, this unique outdoor resort provides the comforts of home amid the wild beauty of nature. Set on more than 1,200 feet of stunning shoreline and nestled on 100 acres of waterfront land, it’s only 35 minutes away from Cadillac Mountain Trail and the wonders of Acadia National Park. Guests can immerse themselves in nature while enjoying luxurious safari-inspired tents, creating a seamless blend of outdoor adventure and upscale accommodation.


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