10 ways to get up-close look at dolphins and whales on NJ coast
Summertime at the Jersey Shore is the perfect time to be on the water.
Besides hanging out on the beach soaking up the rays and enjoying a cool dip in the ocean, try something different one day with the family that’s both fun and educational, like a whale and dolphin watching cruise.
There are plenty to choose from in Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties.
Here are the 10 of the best whale and dolphin watching cruises in New Jersey.
Atlantic City Cruises – Atlantic City, NJ
The Dolphin Watching Adventure Cruises leave at 1 pm daily from June 1 – Sept. 30 in the summer. In the fall, they leave Wed, Sat, and Sun from Oct 1 through Oct 23 and Wed, Sat, and Sun in the spring from April 30 through May 29.
The two-hour cruise costs $45 for adults (aged 16 to 61); seniors aged 62 and older, students with ID and military pay $35, and children (aged 5 to 15) cost $20. Infants 4 and under are free.
Families can enjoy a thrilling view of beautiful Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the memories. Wear comfortable footwear. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a light sweater or jacket, and cash for drinks and snacks (there are no ATM or credit card readers on board).Book ahead of time.
Cape May Whale and Dolphin Watching – Cape May, NJ
Summer Dolphin Cruises – The two-hour cruise departs at 6:30 p.m. and goes around Cape Island.
Tickets are $40 for adults, $25 for children aged 7-12, and $0.01 for children 6 and under.
Included in the cruise are: parking at Miss Chris Marina, marine mammal sightings guaranteed, two-hour-long aboard the largest and fastest boats in South Jersey, ADA compliant boarding ramps, vessel and bathrooms, free pizza and hot dogs, U.S. Coast Guard inspected vessels for up to 405 passengers, and a fully narrated history and nature cruise by experienced, licensed captains and naturalists.
Dinner Cruise – This two-hour-long cruise also departs at 6:30 p.m. with an Italian buffet offered on Saturday nights.
Tickets are $79.95 for adults with dinner, $40 for adults without dinner, $64.95 for children aged 12 and under with dinner, $25 for children aged 7-12 with dinner (pizza and hot dogs), and $0.01 for children aged 6 and under with dinner (pizza and hot dogs).
Included in the cruise: (same as the Summer Dolphin Cruises)
Dolphin Watching – This two-hour-long cruise departs at 10 a.m. from Miss Chris Marina.
Tickets are $40 for adults, $25 for children aged 7-12, and $0.01 for children aged 6 and under.
Included in the cruise: (same as the Summer Dolphin Cruises)
Whale and Dolphin Watching – This three-hour-long cruise departs at 1 p.m. from Miss Chris Marina.
Tickets are $50 for adults, $35 for children aged 7-12, and $0.01 for children aged 6 and under with each paid adult only.
Included in the cruise: (same as Summer Dolphin Cruises)
Whale and Dolphin Weekend Cruise – This 2.5-hour-long cruise departs at 10 a.m. from Miss Chris Marina.
Tickets are $45 for adults and $25 for children aged 7-12 and $0.01 for children aged 6 and under.
Included in the cruise: (same as Summer Dolphin Cruises) plus a whale sense certified naturalist, captain and crew on board, and access to local flavors at the snack bar.
Jersey Shore Whale Watch – Belmar, NJ
Check the calendar on the website, but the cruise departs most days at 1:30 p.m.
It’s a three-hour tour that returns approximately at 4:30 p.m.
Whale sightings are most likely, but if you wind up not seeing a whale, customers can return for free for a second trip!!!
Tickets are $85 for VIP seating, $68.50 for adults aged 14 and older, $41 for children aged 3-14, $19 for infants aged 3 and under, $65 for seniors, $45 for full-time college students, aged 22 or under, and $60 for a public safety discount (police, fire, and first aid members)
Five days a week, there will also be a 9:30 a.m. dolphin tour where people can see dolphins, sharks, and possible whales on this two-hour trip.
Be sure to bring your camera to take lots of cool pictures. Feel free to bring your own beer, drinks, and food.
Plenty of free parking is available at the marina.
Miss Avalon – Avalon, NJ
These dolphin and nature cruises depart Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. for a two-hour tour. Arrive a half-hour before departure. No reservations are needed.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $19 for kids.
The nature cruise is timed to coincide with the active flight and feeding times of local wildlife. Guests will tour around Cedar Island before venturing into the Atlantic Ocean to look for dolphins and sea birds.
Bring your favorite snacks and beverages and keep an eye out for the sneaky sea otter who likes to pop up and entertain everyone!
Miss Belmar Whale Watching – Belmar, NJ
The Royal Miss Belmar departs at 9:30 am for a three-hour cruise starting Monday, June 6 on Mon, Wed, and Fri until Labor Day weekend. The Miss Belmar Princess departs at 3:30 p.m. until June 24, then it’s daily, on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Guests are sure to spot humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and rays.
Meet at the Belmar Marina on Route 35 at least a half-hour before departure.
Ocean Explorer – Belmar, NJ
Meet at the Belmar Marina on Route 35 for a day of fun and adventure.
Tickets are $75 for adults and $50 for children aged 12 and under.
The cruise departs at 9 a.m. on the days they offer with some days at 3:30 p.m. See the calendar on the website for all offerings.
Join Captain Bobby and crew aboard the Sea Eagle as they head off the Jersey Shore to find some cool animals like the humpback whale. Sea turtle and dolphin sightings are not unusual either. Be sure to bring your camera for lots of picture-taking!
Queen Mary – Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Ahoy and welcome aboard the Queen Mary! Tickets are $60 for adults, $40 for children (12 and under), and $50 for seniors.
The three-hour trip is geared toward families who may never have cruised on the ocean before.
There is a spacious top deck for spectacular marine wildlife viewing.
It’s best to book ahead. Cash is only accepted on board.
Seastreak – Highlands, NJ
The Seastreak’s home port is located 15 minutes away from the tip of Sandy Hook, one of the best locations for spotting whales.
Tickets are $55 for adults, $30 for children under 12, and $50 for seniors. Tickets may be purchased ahead of time, and it’s highly recommended to do so.
On this three-hour cruise, guests will visit whale-watching grounds. Humpback whales are spotted on 85% of trips. Cruisers may also have the pleasure of spotting bottlenose dolphins, pelagic birds, sea turtles, and other marine species.
The Starlight Fleet – Wildwood Crest, NJ
The Dolphin Watch Cruise is two hours long and departs three times a day.
Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for juniors aged 7-12, FREE for children aged 6 and under (one per each full paying adult), and $15 for an extra child.
Book online and save 25% with the promo code: DOLPHIN
While on board, guests will have access to a touch tank so everyone will experience marine life up close and personal. During the tour, an onboard naturalist will point out seabirds, sea turtles, and other wildlife, as well as historical sites.
9:30 a.m. cruise – There will be complimentary juice, coffee, and pastry.
12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. cruises – There will be complimentary hot dogs
6:30 p.m. cruise – There will be complimentary pizza and hot dogs
ThunderCat Dolphin Watch – Wildwood Crest, NJ
The Thunder Cat Dolphin Watch Speedboat celebrates its 22nd season, offering the most up-close and personal dolphin watching tour at the Jersey Shore.
Tickets are $37 for adults aged 13 and up, $27 for children aged 3-12, and $17 for children aged 0-2.
“We are proud to be voted the #1 Dolphin Watching Tour in all of South Jersey by Trip Advisor,” according to the website.
“With 99% successful dolphin sightings every year, our guests call her the “the dolphin magnet.”
The speedboat holds 49 passengers. All trips are 90 minutes long. There are four departures daily: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. The only exception is the 8 a.m. special trip, which is only one hour in July and August.
Private charters are available for birthdays, sunset cruises, school trips, and more.
Reservations are strongly suggested.
Dolphins and whales aren't the only big creatures you'll find off Jersey's coast. Look out below: