On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, just before we left the Boston area, we went for a whale watching boat tour with Cape Ann Whale Watch in Gloucester, MA. It was an amazing experience!
We found a Groupon for $30 a ticket, which we figured even if we didn’t see one whale, thirty dollars each for a 4-5 hour boat ride would be worth it. We bought the tickets just a couple days in advance. When I called to make the reservation, Cape Ann told me that usually they would be full already on the Saturday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend, but we got lucky, and they had a few spots left!
Gloucester is about an hour and forty-five-minute drive from Mansfield, where we were staying. We got to the port around 12:40 pm, just in time for the 1:00 boarding. We departed at 1:30 after being acquainted with the rules of the boat. Once we reached underwater mountain about 14-15 miles off the coast, we saw humpback whales right away! The Naturalist, Chris, shared his knowledge of whales with us and knew about many specific individual humpback whales in the area. We saw about 15 different humpbacks, some surfacing several times! Some would be close to our boat, others farther out. The captain was very mindful about making sure everyone on both sides of the boat got a chance the view them, but always put the whales’ safety first.
Seeing the humpback whales’ shiny black backs and their majestic tails coming out the water was breathtaking! One highlight was watching a calf keep slapping his tail on the water over and over, most likely just playing around or practicing what his mother had taught him. Another major highlight was seeing a couple of them breach the water. It is amazing to me that these creatures who are the length of a bus and the weight of a fully-loaded semi-truck can launch their bodies out of the water like that!
After watching the whales for about 3 hours, we headed back to shore. We passed a couple lighthouses on the way back, which are always beautiful. Since the pretzel we split on the boat didn’t really stave off our hunger, we set into town to find somewhere to eat. We found the Cape Ann Brewing Co., where we shared a couple flights of their locally brewed beer. The beer, food, and service were good, and we left satisfied.
Gloucester just happened to be having their annual Schooner Festival that weekend – BONUS! We love when life works out that way. We heard there were fireworks that night, so we grabbed some camp chairs from the truck and headed to the beach to find a spot. It was a great atmosphere. The sun was just setting and there was music from a stage just down the beach from us. Before the fireworks, there was a parade of boats lit up with Christmas lights. Then at 9:15, the fireworks went off over the water. It was just a wonderful surprise ending to an awesome day!