We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

whale & puffin watching

Syracuse, New York
Level Contributor
464 posts
61 reviews
Save Topic
whale & puffin watching

Hello!

My husband and I were really looking forward to whale watching for our trip to Bar Harbor next week but upon reading the reviews of Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co., we realized we probably won't be into it because I am prone to seasickness and according to the reviews, a LOT of people are getting seasick on this ride. This may be a dumb question but is there any other way to see puffins or whales from land? I really would LOVE to see something if I could. We are kayaking in Frenchman's bay and we're also doing the Diver Ed trip, I don't think we'll encounter anything on either of these trips... or will we?

Maine
Level Contributor
225 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: whale & puffin watching

I am not an expert but no, I don't think you will see any puffins or whales from the land.

Puffins (which I understand are becoming more endangered) live on some specific islands and the puffin cruises go by those islands so you can see them.

Whales like the open ocean. For Maine (look at a map) we have miles and miles of coastline but with the peninsulas we have jutting out into the sea, we have lots of bays (such as Casco Bay around Portland, and Penobscot Bay, further downeast near Camden, and Frenchmen's Bay, for Bar Harbor). Whales are not likely to venture into these areas unless something is wrong, like they are sick. So, just standing on the shore, you are not going to see a whale or whale spout.

I took a whale watch out of Bar Harbor a few years ago and it was a big disappointment. We traveled for ages out into the ocean, it was freezing cold (fortunately they gave us blankets to wrap up in) and we never saw a whale. I've known others who have had similar experiences from Portland as well as Portsmouth, NH.

I have had friends who have seen whales when taking a trip from Provincetown, MA in August.

I just recently listened to the story of the whaleship Essex as an audiobook. History tells us that whale fishermen from Nantucket and other New England ports pretty much decimated the whale population in New England waters (that's why they had to go further and further afield to find whales to harvest). While we have a return of whales to our area, I can understand while they are still rare and hard to find--and part of me suspects they don't want to be found, knowing their past history.

Probably more than you wanted to know, but something to think about. We still have lots of beautiful scenery, even if you don't see a whale or puffin! Enjoy!

Bar Harbor, Maine
Level Contributor
6,073 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: whale & puffin watching

I don't think it's possible to see puffins or whales from land in this area. Puffins are rare and becoming more so. The best chance to see them is out of Cutler, Maine to Machias Seal Island. They land and have blinds from which you can take photos. I see from their web page that their July boat trips are already fully booked:

http://www.boldcoast.com/

Another island in Maine that has puffins is Eastern Egg Rock. I once circumnavigated it on the Monhegan/Port Clyde ferry in early July. We saw some puffin decoys but no puffins.

As for whales, living here in Bar Harbor, I was able to pick my day. I went out on the Whale Watch on a beautiful, calm early autumn day. No one I noticed got sick. It wasn't that cold. It was indeed a long way out to Mt. Desert Rock. And we did see whales. But I didn't think they were that impressive. Just the backs of great big fish in the water with lots of silly people trying to time their photos with the sightings.

I enjoyed the boat trip because the view of the mountains of Acadia is spectacular. I spent my time thinking about the hikes I had taken on each of those mountains as they came into view from varying perspectives on the water.

All in all, I'd give up the dream of seeing whales or puffins and be happy with the kayaking and Diver Ed. Both of those things will be lots and lots of fun.

Maine
Level Contributor
404 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: whale & puffin watching

May not help for this trip but you can see big whales from land in the St Lawrence River in Quebec, but the Saguenay-StLawrence Marine Park is about 8-9 hrs drive from Bar Harbor, but only about 10 hrs drive straight from Syracuse.

Bar Harbor, Maine
Destination Expert
for Bar Harbor
Level Contributor
1,453 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: whale & puffin watching

You will see plenty of seals, maybe sea porpoise, bald eagles and other water birds but you won't see whales or puffins from Diver Ed. Consider a lengthier touring boat ride instead of Diver Ed such as LuLu's Lobster Boat, Acadia Nature Cruise or the Sea Princess Nature Cruise. All of those stay in the Bay so the water's not rough. Diver Ed is more underwater sights which is great if that's what you are looking for.

Illinois
Level Contributor
1,411 posts
251 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: whale & puffin watching

Do you get seasick even if you take Dramamine? Give it a try-I'm prone to motion sickness but took 2 and was tired, but fine. That said, I was glad to see a whale and probably would have regretted not going but now that I've gone I probably could have done without. Have heard Diver Ed's is great and also met people on our trip who did the lobster boat tour and loved it. Also, there were several seasick people on our whale tour but as a percentage of how many people were on the boat, I'd say only 1 or 2 percent of the passengers were sick.

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
4 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: whale & puffin watching

My family and I did the Sunset Puffin cruise out of Port Clyde. Here is a link to this website.

http://monheganboat.com/puffin-cruises/

You will not see whales, but you will definitely see lots of puffins, but not necessarily close enough to get a really good look with the naked eye. Bring binoculars and/or the longest camera lens you have (a point and shoot or phone camera will not suffice) and shoot away. You will also see the home of the Wyeth family on this cruise. If you arrive early, the town of Port Clyde itself is quaint and welcoming. We had a lot of fun just walking around. The most beautiful shots I took on this entire vacation were on this cruise.

Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
4 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: whale & puffin watching

My family and I did the Sunset Puffin cruise out of Port Clyde. Here is a link to this website.

http://monheganboat.com/puffin-cruises/

You will not see whales, but you will definitely see lots of puffins, but not necessarily close enough to get a really good look with the naked eye. Bring binoculars and/or the longest camera lens you have (a point and shoot or phone camera will not suffice) and shoot away. You will also see the home of the Wyeth family on this cruise. If you arrive early, the town of Port Clyde itself is quaint and welcoming. We had a lot of fun just walking around. The most beautiful shots I took on this entire vacation were on this cruise.

Edited: 9:01 am, July 16, 2013
Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
4 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: whale & puffin watching

Sorry. Did not mean to post that twice.

Englewood, Fl.
Level Contributor
1,739 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: whale & puffin watching

You really need to pick your day, and that is not always possible for the casual tourist, or someone from a cruise ship.

The fact is that the great whales are around from mid April through mid October. However they tend to congregate and feed in areas as far as twenty miles off the Maine coast. Therefore the long boat ride is required to reach the feeding grounds. On the right day the trip can be a great, relaxing outdoor experience. On a windy day though, with rough seas, it can be a nightmare for anyone who might be prone to motion sickness. Add to that the fact that the weather can change and the winds and seas can pick up at any time, and you can see that whale watching might not be the best way for you to spend your time in Bar Harbor.

Boston
Level Contributor
108 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: whale & puffin watching

You can see whales from land from Campobello Island just over the border from Lubec Maine (about 100 miles from Bar harbor). We vacationed on Campobello a few years ago and we saw whales from our cottage over looking the water.