Bar Harbor Whale Watching#6 in Best Things To Do in Bar Harbor
Price & Hours
In addition to a stunning setting, visitors to Bar Harbor also get a chance to behold the region's spectacular wildlife. Whales of all kinds can be found in the Gulf of Maine and are easily spotted on a whale watching cruise. Whale watching season runs from mid-April through September, when the whales come to the gulf to feast on plankton, fish, sand eels and more. During this time, expect to see a variety of whale species, including humpback whales, orcas, sperm whales, sei whales and pilot whales. In addition to these gentle giants, this part of the East Coast also sees plenty of seals and dolphins.
The most popular tour operator is Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. Located downtown, Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company offers whale watching tours from July until mid-October and boasts a 90% to 95% accuracy in spotting marine life on any given day. Plus, the company's high-speed catamarans make it easy for the boat to catch up to whales that are spotted from a distance. Tours, which are approximately three to five hours long, typically head 20 to 40 miles offshore into the gulf where whales are known to congregate. According to the company, the best time to spot whales is from June to August when ocean conditions are calm and the weather is clear and sunny.
Recent tourgoers were pleased with their experience. Travelers who reported seeing whales were amazed at how close they were able to get, while those who didn't were still pretty happy with their tour thanks to the beautiful scenery, the knowledge of the local guides and the fact that they were able to observe other types of marine life. Other travelers warned that it gets chilly when you are on the water and they advised bringing plenty of layers.
Tours depart at the northern end of the Shore Path adjacent to the Town Pier. Tours are offered once a day and hours depend on the season. From June to August, tours depart at 1 p.m.; from September to mid-October, tours depart at 11 a.m. Rates also vary by the season. Tickets for adults start at $59; tickets for kids ages 6 to 14 start at $33, and children 5 and younger can ride for $14 year-round. For more information, visit the tour operator's website.
More Best Things To Do in Bar Harbor
#1 Acadia National Park
Just a stone's throw from Bar Harbor lies Acadia National Park. A big reason visitors come to Bar Harbor in the first place is that the town is the gateway to this national park. Acadia encompasses more than 47,000 acres of land, including beautiful coastline, enchanting forests and the tallest mountain on the North Atlantic seaboard, Cadillac Mountain. If you ascend to the top of the mountain from October to early March, you'll be the first in the country to see the sun rise. This is just one of the many sights that make Acadia truly magical. Other mesmerizing must-visit spots include Schoodic Point, best known for its crashing surf, Sand Beach, one of the few beaches in the greater Bar Harbor region, and the Wild Gardens of Acadia, to name a few.
Recent visitors were in awe of Acadia National Park. Many were happy with the varied scenery and many hiking trails available, with a handful of travelers recommending a visit to Cadillac Mountain during sunrise or sunset. Biking on the park's Carriage Roads was also considered a must-do activity as well as the serene Jordan Pond. However, past travelers did share one common complaint: Parking can be a challenge, so keep that in mind and plan your visit for off-peak times to avoid the heaviest crowds.
Explore More of Bar Harbor
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.