You don’t have to fly to Alaska to spot some magnificent whales—yes, NJ whale watching is a thing. The Humpback, Fin, Minke, and Northern Right marine mammals 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)
The Best NJ Whale Watching Trips
Tours run through October 30
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 is air-conditioned. A full-stocked bar with drinks and snacks is available.
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 are daily through the season
This popular 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. They pride themselves on having a 90 percent success rate in finding whales, and if you don’t see them, you can come back for a free cruise. You may also see dolphins, sharks, and stingrays. You can BYO food and drinks too. They also have trips from Point Pleasant and Keansburg Marina.
Cost: $63 (adults), $55 (seniors 65 and older or active military), $39 (full-time college students with valid ID), $41 (children 3–17), $8 (infants 2 and younger)
905 NJ-35, Belmar, NJ 07719
Tours run Memorial Day through Labor Day
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, 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 now through December
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: $75 (adult), $50 (children 12 and younger)
905 NJ-35, Belmar, NJ 07719
Queen Mary Party Fishing Boat & Charters
Whale and Dolphin Cruises are most Sundays and Wednesdays through early September
This three-hour trip takes place on the “Queen of the Fleet” with indoor seating, a spacious top deck, and food and drinks available on board. 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: Weekdays – $99 (adult), $90 (senior), $65 (children 12 and younger). There are group discounts available.
Weekends – $120 (adult), $100 (senior), $75 (children 12 and younger)
415 Broadway, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Cape May Whale Watcher
Daily through October, with select dates in November and December.
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. During the week, there’s a three-hour narrated tour aboard a ship with two decks for viewing and heated and air-conditioned cabins. The Weekend Special offers a complimentary breakfast as you look out for whales, dolphins, sea birds, and more.
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
Both boats run at various times from May – December
Hop aboard this 100-foot ship with large exterior decks, a heated interior, a semi-enclosed seating area on the upper deck, and food and drinks for purchase. One morning tour is two-and-a-half hours with complimentary danish, juice, and coffee. The other is three hours 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 – $45 (adults), $35 (ages 7–12), $17 (extra child), and free for children 6 and younger (with each paying adult). Whale, Bird & Dolphin Watch – $47 (adults), $32 (ages 7–12), $17 (extra child), and free for children 6 and younger (with each paying adult).
1231 Route 109 (South Jersey Marina), Cape May, NJ 08204
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