Whale Watching…a fun day trip from Peterborough

Peterborough may not be on the ocean, but when guests are staying with us for multiple days, the New Hampshire seacoast is a great option for a day trip.  And while you’re there, a whale watching excursion can be an awesome experience!

Earlier this month, we booked an afternoon tour for ourselves and family with Granite State Whale Watch out of Rye Harbor and it was great!

The boat ride out to the whale sighting grounds took us through the scenic Isles of Shoals. Our boat captain explained that this group of rocky islands, partially located in New Hampshire waters and partially in Maine waters, were first discovered by the European settlers in the early 1600s. They had been used by pirates and fishermen and once housed a hotel.  These days there is a lighthouse, conference center, a research facility shared by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire…and a  colony of seals 🙂  This afforded us an opportunity to spot the occasional harbor seal passing by, as well as the chance to try identifying a variety of seabirds.

Lighthouse on the Isle of Shoals

Once out to the whale sighting grounds, we came across a number of Minke whales… a total of four.  When we got close to the first (but not too close), the captain positioned his boat so we could get a better look and shut off the engines.

It’s funny… for the entire ride out to the whale sighting area, the boat was moving at a good speed. The kids were mostly excited and antsy while the adults huddled and talked.  But once out at the sighting area, the captain killed the engines and a hush came over the entire boat.  Everyone was speaking in hushed tones…scared to make a sound…looking in all directions hoping to be the person to first spot a whale breaking the surface.  And then…someone called out…heads turned…and collective “oohs and aahs” and welps of excitement washed over the boat as one of these majestic mammals thrilled the crowd on board.


Everyone watching for a whale to breach the surface

And it is exciting!  It’s one thing to see a captive whale at a theme park but it is a whole different experience to see them free in their natural environment.  Our on-board naturalist Melanie, a research associate at the Blue Ocean Society, practically anticipated our every question and gave us tons of information about the whales.


A whale headed straight for the side of our boat…just before he passed underneath. Wow!!!

After our encounter with Minke whales we moved on to another area where we came across a handful of Fin whales.  Where the Minke grow to about thirty feet and two tons, the Fin whales grow to ninety feet and over one hundred tons!  They are the second largest animal on earth! (Blue Whales are the largest.) Even more impressive, considering their mass, Fin whales are known as the “Greyhounds of the Sea” able to swim at up to twenty five miles an hour.  That’s five times faster than Michael Phelps!

One of those big Fin whales…they are HUGE!

By the time we finished up with the Fins, it was time to head back.  We all found a comfortable place to sit and relax and left the driving to the captain for an enjoyable end to the whale watching trip.  Back on shore, we stopped for a nice dinner in Portsmouth before heading back to the B&B.

So if you are staying in New Hampshire for multiple days and looking for an exciting day trip…definitely consider a whale watching excursion!

#whale #visitnh #livefreenh