You don’t have to fly across the U.S. and take a cruise in Alaska to spot some magnificent whales. Yes, NJ whale watching is a thing—Humpback, Fin, Minke, and Northern Right whales make their way through our ocean waters with peak viewing from June through September. And to go whale watching in NJ means getting out on the water, where you’ll feel the ocean spray and catch a sighting of these magnificent mammals and other sea life in their natural habitat. So, grab your binoculars and book a trip for the fam—here are 7 boat tours where you can see these incredible ocean creatures.
Featured Photo Credit: Istock/Piter1977
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The Best NJ Whale Watching Trips
Tours run through November 28
The Seastreak ferry takes you on a three-hour roundtrip from Highlands to a whale-watching spot where the Hudson, Raritan, Navesink, and Shrewsbury rivers flow together. This area is known for attracting fish that whales love to eat, so it’s the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of these magnificent mammals. The ferry has spacious seating across multiple decks and also offers an air-conditioned cabin. A full-stocked bar with drinks and snacks is available. Tours run now through Nov. 28.
Cost: $55 (adults), $50 (senior 65 and older), $30 (children younger than 12)
326 Shore Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732
Bill McKim’s Jersey Shore Whale Watch Tour
Tours run at 1:30 p.m. every day now through October and select days in November.
Now in its fourth year, this whale-watching tour departs from the Belmar Marina and offers a three- to three-and-a-half-hour trip on its 120-foot boat to a spot 2 miles off the coast. According to the website, they have a 90 percent success rate in finding whales, and if they don’t, your trip is free. You may also see dolphins, sharks, and stingrays. You can BYO food and drinks too.
Cost: $59 (adults), $50 (seniors 65 and older or active military), $40 (full-time college students with valid ID), $49 (children 3–17), $5 (infants 2 and younger)
905 NJ-35, Belmar, NJ 07719
Tours run at 1:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through November and select dates in December.
The Royal Miss Belmar, part of the Miss Belmar fleet, sets sail on a three-hour excursion out of Belmar Marina. Join Captain Alan as you search for sea life aboard this 115-foot ship with a sun deck, air-conditioned cabin, and more. You can buy food and drinks on board, as well as T-shirts and hats to commemorate your NJ whale watching excursion.
Cost: $65 (age 13 and older), $45 (children 12 and younger)
905 New Jersey 35, Belmar, NJ 07719
Tours run at 9 a.m. (with select 3:30 p.m. time slots available) Saturdays and Sundays now through August. September through December, there are only 3:30 p.m. time slots available.
Join Captain Bobby, who has more than 30 years of fishing and boating experience, as you head out on the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Sea Eagle to find one or more humpback whales. Other ocean wildlife may be spotted, including sea turtles and dolphins.
Cost: $65 (adult), $35 (children 12 and younger)
905 NJ-35, Belmar, NJ 07719
Queen Mary Party Fishing Boat & Charters
Tours run at 4 p.m. on select days, starting June 30
This three-hour trip billed as an afternoon whale, dolphin, and bird-watching cruise, takes place on the “Queen of the Fleet” with indoor seating and a spacious top deck viewing area. Queen Mary has food and drinks available onboard. Plan to bring a big crowd with you—there is a 14-person minimum required, and while this sailing is geared toward families who may not have cruised on the ocean, it’s not recommended for children younger than 4 years old.
Cost: $60 (adult), $50 (senior), $40 (children 12 and younger). There are group discounts available.
415 Broadway, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Cape May Whale Watcher
The Whale & Dolphin Cruise runs at 1 p.m. daily through October, with select dates in November and December. The Weekend Special runs at 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, now through October
The name says it all—the Cape May Whale Watcher offers two tours geared toward spotting Humpback, Fin, and Minke whales in the Atlantic around the Cape May shoreline. The Whale & Dolphin Watch is a three-hour narrated tour aboard a ship with two decks for viewing and heated and air-conditioned cabins. The Weekend Special is two-and-a-half hours narrated by Captain Jeff Stewart, with a complimentary breakfast. Passengers will search for whales, dolphins, sea birds, and more. There are also tours geared specifically for dolphin watching.
Cost: The Whale & Dolphin Cruise – $50 (adults), $35 (ages 7–12), children age 6 and younger (with each paid adult) is only 1 cent. The Weekend Special – $45 (adult), $25 (ages 7–12), children age 6 and younger (with each paid adult) is only 1 cent.
1218 Wilson Drive, Cape May, NJ 08204
Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center
Around the Cape May Whale, Dolphin & Bird Watch runs at 10 a.m. daily now through September and most days (a few Friday excluded) in October. Whale, Bird & Dolphin Watch runs at 1:30 p.m. daily now through December (with a few Fridays in October, November, and December excluded)
Another option in Cape May, this company offers two tours geared toward whale watching aboard its 100-foot ship with seating for more than 200 passengers. The boat has large exterior decks, a heated interior, a semi-enclosed seating area on the upper deck, and food and drinks for purchase. Around Cape May Whale, Dolphin & Bird Watch is a two-and-a-half-hour tour with complimentary danish, juice, and coffee served. Whale, Bird & Dolphin Watch is a three-hour tour searching for ocean wildlife and includes an onboard touch tank filled with local sea creatures for hands-on learning. If your crew doesn’t spot any marine mammals during your trip, your next trip is free.
Cost: Around the Cape May Whale, Dolphin & Bird Watch – $42 (adults), $32 (ages 7–12), $14 (extra child), Free for children 6 and younger (with each paying adult). Whale, Bird & Dolphin Watch – $47 (adults), $32 (ages 7–12), $17 (extra child), Free for children 6 and younger (with each paying adult).
1231 Route 109 (South Jersey Marina), Cape May, NJ 08204