Whaling thrived off the coast of New Jersey starting in 1660, and whaling captains were among the early homebuilders in Cape May. Today, the whalers are gone, but the whales are still evident—mainly massive humpbacks, with their distinctive songs and acrobatic leaps. Daily whale watches originate in several popular Jersey Shore towns. The whales tend to travel far offshore, so most whale watches run at least three hours. Whale sightings—humpbacks as well as fin, minke and right whales—typically aren’t guaranteed, but any watch is almost certain to spot pods of bottlenose dolphins, porpoises and an array of sea birds. And then there’s all that salt air to inhale and enjoy.
Here’s a selection (north-to-south) of Jersey Shore whale watches. These and other tour companies typically offer shorter dolphin-watch tours, too.
Seastreak’s ferries offer airline-style seating on multiple decks. The boats cruise the waters off Sandy Hook, a favorite feeding area for whales. Three-hour cruises depart most days at 1:30 pm from the Seastreak Ferry Terminal, through November 28. Adults, $55; children under 12, $30; seniors 65 plus, $50.
325 Shore Drive, 800-262-8743
The company’s two boats make daily three-hour expeditions out of Belmar Marina with a naturalist on board to explain the sightings. Start time is 1:30 pm; food and beverages are available for purchase. Adults, $65; children 12 and under, $50.
905 Route 35, 732-681-6866
This three-hour-plus expedition is the only tour at the Jersey Shore that guarantees a whale sighting (or you get a free return trip). The 120-foot BYO party boat departs daily July-September from Belmar Marina; limited schedule October-November. Adults, $65; children 17 and under, $55; infants 2 and under, $5.
905 Route 35, 732-451-6003
Board the Sea Eagle—seen in the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill—for a three-hour tour with an on-board naturalist. Tours run most weekends through August 29. Adults, $65; children 12 and under, $35.
900 River Road, 848-565-0519
Point Pleasant offers a three-hour afternoon cruise aboard the 85-foot Queen Mary, departing daily at 4 pm. Adults, $60; children, $40; seniors, $50.
415 Broadway, 732-899-3766
Captain Jeff Stewart and his crew run a fully narrated three-hour Whale & Dolphin cruise, daily May-October, and weekends November-mid-December. Guests are encouraged to peer across the horizon to help with the sightings. Adults, $50; children 7-12, $35. They also offer sunset, dinner and other themed cruises.
1218 Wilson Drive, 609-884-5445
The center offers a three-hour tour at 1:30 pm daily out of South Jersey Marina, and a shorter, slightly less expensive 10 am tour. There’s always a naturalist on board; the afternoon tour includes a touch-tank experience. Afternoon tour: adults, $47; juniors 7-12, $32; additional child, $17; 6 and under, free with each full-fare-paying adult.
1231 Route 109, 609-898-0055Click here to leave a comment