Cape Cod Bay: A Beacon for Whales

Humpback whales

Roughly half of the calendar year, from May through October, is the prime whale-watching season in the waters just off Provincetown. Cape Cod Bay spans over 600 square miles, with a deep floor and strong tides, which make it one of the most nutrient-dense aquatic zones. Humpback whales, which grow up to 60 feet long and travel over 5,000 miles regularly, migrate to the Atlantic Ocean just off P-Town’s beaches to reap the benefits of this rich feeding area. It may seem unbelievable, but humpbacks can eat upwards of 3,000 lbs of fish and krill daily as they build up their fat stores for the long winter ahead. And they feed near shore, making it easy to get close to these magnificent creatures in their element.

Humpbacks, Of Course, But Also So Much More

Whale breaching in front of boat of peopleHumpbacks, with their impressive breaching of the water and spectacular splashing of their fins, are rightly a favorite of whale watchers. But Cape Cod Bay attracts several other types of whales, making it one of the best areas in the world to see a variety of species during a single outing. You may spot a Finback, which is longer than a Humpback, growing up to 75 feet in length but faster in the water even with its bigger size and weight. Pilot whales are also common, traveling in groups of up to 20, making their behavior more akin to dolphins.

As wondrous as these are, the rarest sighting is that of the North Atlantic Right Whale, as they are highly endangered, with only 350 remaining today. Right whales were the most prized catch during the early centuries of Cape Cod’s development into a fishing mecca, turning Provincetown into one of the wealthiest coastal towns in the country. It’s worth visiting the various whaling exhibits at the Provincetown Monument Museum, located right next door to us, where you can dive deeper into this fascinating chapter in our history.


MacMillan Pier: Get Out on the Water

Provincetown Marina with boats in the waterAlthough you can luck out and spot a whale with a trusty pair of binoculars from the shore at Race Point Beach, the best bet is to jump on one of the many whale-watching boats that head out from MacMillan Pier. Provincetown Hotel’s location could not be more convenient, as you’re just a 2-minute walk from our front door to stepping foot on a boat at the pier.

You’ll have your choice of countless local boats offering whale-watching tours, each with slightly different arrangements regarding when they depart, how many people can fit on board and overall cost. One of many options is aboard the Odysea vessel, which can hold up to 6 guests, and where local legendary fisherman Captain Ralph will guide you on a 4-hour trip to the whales just offshore. You are in for an unforgettable afternoon on the water regardless of which boating outfit you choose.


Plan your stay with us, as the whale-watching season is at its peak right now!