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Can You Go Whale Watching on Maine’s Coast?

If you dream of spotting aquatic animals in their natural habitat, Maine whale watching needs to be on your bucket list. While seeing pictures of whales can be fascinating, there’s nothing quite like seeing one in person, especially in the wild. 

Many people mention spotting these beautiful creatures along the west coast of the country. But what are the odds of actually seeing whales in Maine?  

Today, we’re looking below the surface to see whether or not Maine is a good spot for whale watching. We’ll share everything you need to know so you can prepare for a future adventure. 

Let’s dive in!

Is Maine Good for Whale Watching?

Maine is one of the best spots on the east coast for whale watching. However, it might require paying for a professional guide to take you out on an excursion 20 or more miles from the shoreline. While these excursions can be pricey, most guarantee a whale sighting on every trip. The nutrient-rich waters off the coast of Maine make it a prime spot for whales.

Whale sightings are frequent, especially further off the rocky coast. The most common types spotted are humpbacks, finbacks, and minkes. The finback whales can weigh up to 130 tons and reach an astounding 89 feet long. They’re truly a sight to see!

However, whales aren’t the only wildlife you’re likely to catch a glimpse of. While you’ll be hoping to spot whales, it’s also common to see dolphins, seals, puffins, sharks, ospreys, gulls, and eagles. In addition, the view from the water back at the natural beauty of Acadia National Park is hard to beat.

Whale tale coming out of water at sunset
Head to Maine for some stunning whale watching.

Where Is the Best Place for Whale Watching in Maine?

If you want the best opportunity for whale watching on the Maine coast, you must visit the DownEast region. This is in the southeast part of Maine, which contains Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and Mount Desert Island. However, you need to plan your visit right if you want a good chance of seeing whales.

The best time to visit this area is from May through October. Winters in this region can be rather intense, and the whales head south in the fall to warmer waters. While the winter weather can be extreme, the area comes to life during the summer.

Unfortunately, the secret about this area’s incredible natural wonder and beauty has gotten out. Some towns that are quiet most of the year get overrun with visitors flocking to popular locations.

What To Expect on a Whale Watching Tour in Maine

You can find charter services in many quaint coastal towns. Some of the most popular and reputable services are in Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island. Booking through a charter service can maximize your chances of spotting whales and other aquatic life.

These tours typically run from June through October, lasting anywhere from two to four hours. Some of the boats have restrooms and concessions available. In addition, there’s plenty of seating inside and outside for everyone to stay comfortable during the excursion.

While the temperature on shore may be warm, it can drop significantly once you get on the water. Cold ocean air can result in a 20-degree drop in temperature compared to land. Save yourself the trouble and bring a jacket just in case. In addition, standard items like sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are helpful. Don’t forget your binoculars while you’re packing your bags.

Pro Tip: After whale watching, use our guide on How to Spend a Day in Acadia National Park.

Man whale watching on boat in Maine
From Acadia National Park to Bar Harbor, there is much to see in Maine after whale watching.

Best Things To Do in DownEast Maine

Besides whale watching, DownEast Maine is an area full of excitement and adventure. There’s so much to explore that you don’t want to waste a single minute of your time. So let’s look at some of the best things to do in the DownEast. 

Explore Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is one of the 63 parks managed by the National Park Service to receive the official national park designation. The park and its 27 miles of roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes welcome more than four million visitors each year.

The park is a 47,000-acre outdoor playground for those who enjoy cycling, hiking, swimming, and boating. However, the 27-mile Park Loop Road takes guests along the east side of Mount Desert Island and provides incredible views. 

You don’t have to get out of your car to enjoy this park’s beauty. If you choose to do the drive, give yourself at least three hours to finish it. You’ll want to stop and take plenty of pictures.

Visit Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is a town of approximately 5,000 residents that live on Mount Desert Island. However, during the summer and fall, the city explodes with tourists. Cruise ships frequent the area, with approximately 154 ships and 222,000 passengers visiting annually.

One spot you’ll want to experience in Bar Harbor is Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium. In true New England fashion, they offer lobster-flavored ice cream. In addition, plenty of small shops and seafood places offer lobster rolls, crab cakes, and clam chowder.

Many of the offshore excursions leave from Bar Harbor. Stop by and chat with one of the guide services if you’re on the fence about whether or not you’re up for the adventure. However, these professional guide services are top-notch, and many find the experience to be priceless. 

There’s a good chance you’ll spot whales, puffins, seals, and seabirds. In addition, you’ll likely get an opportunity to photograph some of the many beautiful lighthouses that dot the coast of Maine.

Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for these Most Dangerous Creatures in Acadia National Park while exploring Maine.

Best Camping in DownEast Maine

You’ll want as much time as possible to explore DownEast Maine. Give yourself plenty of time to see the area, and plan to spend at least a week there. One of the area’s most affordable lodging options are campgrounds. Let’s check out a couple of options to consider during your stay.

Blackwoods Campground

Blackwoods Campground is a seasonal rustic campground with 281 campsites that are $30 per night. Each site has a fire ring and picnic table. Blackwoods is a reservation-only campground, and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. There’s a generous amount of space between each campsite, and the trees are thick enough to provide plenty of privacy. 

The area’s shuttle service frequently stops at the campgrounds, trailheads, and carriage road entrances. Many guests love that they can access some of the best trails without worrying about parking, which can be hard to find during the busy season.

Bar Harbor Campground

If you want a bit more luxury than the national park campground has to offer, Bar Harbor Campground is the place to go. You’ll find a heated pool, clean bathrooms, and paved roads. In addition, you’ll find incredible ocean views, and the town’s free shuttle stops at the campground.

Whether you’re looking to camp in a tiny tent or a massive RV, this is a great campground. It’s a quiet, family-owned establishment that offers affordable fees ranging from $38 to $48 per night. It’s a great deal when you factor in all the amenities offered and the ease of accessing Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

Is a Maine Whale Watching Road Trip Worth It?

No matter how often you see a massive whale come to the surface, it can be a breathtaking experience. Maine whale watching is a fantastic opportunity everyone should take if given a chance. 

The conditions in Maine provide a great environment to spot whales, and almost every guide service that offers trips guarantees a whale sighting. So do your research and make your reservations far in advance, especially if you plan on coming during the busiest time of the year.

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