Tips for an Enjoyable Whale-Watching /Nature Cruise

Have the right expectations. Wild animals don't appear on command. Some days, you might not see a whale at all and on others, you'll see several.

  • Dress warmly, in layers. Any time of year, it will be colder out on the water than it is on the shore. Plan for a temperature difference of 20-30°F.
  • In winter, you may want to bring gloves or mittens (an extra pair of socks make a good emergency substitute).
  • Even if it isn't raining, some of the smaller boats can kick up quite a spray. Bring a waterproof jacket with a hood.
  • Wear sunscreen, no matter what the weather. Even if you sit in the shade, 60% of the sunlight bounces back up from the water's surface, and you can sunburn even under cloudy skies.
  • The earlier in the day you go, the smoother the ride will be. The wind often picks up and causes choppiness later in the day.
  • Even though the water's surface looks calm from shore, ocean swells can make the boat ride seem like a roller coaster. If you're prone to motion sickness, use your favorite remedies (read the directions! Some medication needs to be taken well before boarding), just in case - otherwise, you could be in for a miserable few hours.
  • Wear sunglasses. The glare from the water can give you a headache.
  • Wear a hat or visor to shade your eyes, but be sure it's secure. If the wind takes it, it's gone forever.
  • Young children can get bored on a whale-watching trip. Bring along something to entertain them. And be sure they have enough warm clothing. The chilly wind on deck can dampen even the most excited child's enthusiasm.
  • A lot of whale-watching guides suggest bringing binoculars, but we suspect those writers may have never been out on a boat looking for whales. Whales are sighted by scanning around, they appear and disappear quickly and in a moving boat, it's unlikely you'd get the binoculars on them before they were gone.