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Long Island’s Majestic Whale Watching Experience

Long Island, located in southeastern New York state, extends eastward from New York Harbor to Montauk Point. It’s a popular destination for beach lovers, food enthusiasts, and nature lovers. In recent years, whale watching has gained popularity in Long Island, especially during the migration seasons when whales pass close to its shores.

With its beautiful coastline stretching from the bustling city vibes of New York Harbor to the serene landscapes of Montauk Point, Long Island is a treasure trove for nature lovers. Among the many adventures it offers, whale watching has quickly climbed the ranks to become a favored activity for locals and tourists. But what makes whale watching on Long Island so special? Let’s dive in.

Long Island isn’t just sun-kissed beaches, succulent seafood, or historic lighthouses. The waters surrounding this picturesque landmass are teeming with a rich variety of marine life. Over recent years, the activity of spotting these magnificent creatures, especially the awe-inspiring whales, has evolved into a popular pastime, drawing crowds from all over.

What kind of whales are in Long Island?

While several species grace the waters of Long Island, the Humpback whale often steals the show with its sheer size and mesmerizing acrobatics. Their iconic breaches, where they leap out of the water, make for a sight that’s nothing short of magical.

Humpback whale
Humpback whale

But humpbacks aren’t the only stars. The Minke whales, with their streamlined bodies, also frequent these waters. And on rare occasions, the mighty orca or killer whale might appear, thrilling every onlooker.

Let’s not forget the playful dolphins and the often-overlooked seals, which add to the rich tapestry of marine life you can witness here.

The Prime Whale Watching Season in Long Island

The key to a memorable whale-watching experience lies in timing. Whales migrate, and there are specific times of the year when your chances of spotting them near Long Island are highest. Typically, the warmer months between late spring and early fall mark the migration seasons. During this period, whales often pass close to the Long Island shores, providing spectacular sights.

Best Locations on Long Island for Whale Watching

Montauk Point stands out as a prime location for this activity. Its prominence allows for far-reaching views over the open ocean, increasing the chances of spotting a distant splash or the telltale spout of a surfacing whale.

Then there’s Fire Island, where nature converges with marine life, offering whale watching and a holistic nature experience.

While these spots are well-known, sometimes the best experiences come from the lesser-known beaches and vantage points. So, don’t hesitate to explore or ask locals for their secret spots.

To Guide or Not to Guide

There’s a debate among enthusiasts: Is it better to book a guided tour or venture out independently in hopes of spotting these marine giants? Each has its merits.

Guided tours often come with experts who know the best spots and times, significantly upping your chances of sightings. They’ll also provide insightful information about the whales and their behaviors. However, for those seeking a more personal, tranquil experience, setting out independently, armed with a good pair of binoculars and patience, might be the way to go.

For those leaning towards a guided tour, here are three top-recommended whale-watching tour operators on Long Island:

1. Whales of Long Island Tours

  • Experienced Crew: Their seasoned crew knows Long Island waters intimately.
  • Educational Insight: Onboard marine biologists share captivating details about the whales.
  • Conservation Commitment: A part of their proceeds support marine conservation.
  • Comfortable Vessels: Boats with amenities and 360-degree viewing areas ensure a splendid experience.

2. Ocean Blue Adventures

  • Eco-Friendly Approach: They pride themselves on environmentally conscious tours, limiting their carbon footprint.
  • Small Group Tours: A more intimate experience, allowing for personalized interactions and better spotting opportunities.
  • Multi-lingual Guides: Catering to an international audience, their guides can communicate in several languages.
  • Photo Opportunities: Their boats often have onboard professional photographers, ensuring you get the best shots.

3. Long Island Whale Watchers

  • Historical Insight: Beyond just whale watching, they delve into the maritime history of Long Island.
  • Family-Friendly: They offer special packages and activities catering to families with kids.
  • Safety First: Their commitment to safety, with well-trained staff and life-saving equipment, is commendable.
  • Interactive Sessions: Post-tour discussions with experts allow for deeper insights and Q&A sessions.

Tips for Enthusiasts

Whale watching, like bird watching, demands patience. Remember, nature operates on its own schedule. Early mornings or late afternoons might offer better sightings, but there’s no hard and fast rule.

Equip yourself with essentials: binoculars for a closer look, a camera for those priceless moments, and sun protection. And always approach this activity with respect for the creatures. Keeping a safe distance and avoiding any interference ensures their safety and yours.

The increasing popularity of whale watching brings with it the responsibility of sustainable practices. Long Island businesses are acutely aware of this and have made commendable strides in promoting conservation. Tourists, too, can play their part.

Supporting local businesses that adhere to ethical practices, being mindful of one’s environmental impact, and perhaps even contributing to conservation initiatives can make a difference.

Whale watching on Long Island isn’t just about catching a glimpse of these marine marvels; it’s about understanding, appreciating, and immersing oneself in the wonders of nature. So, don’t miss this chance the next time you’re on Long Island. Set out, gaze at the horizon, and let the whales mesmerize you.

We’d love to hear about your experiences, see your photos, or discuss these beautiful creatures. Share, comment, and celebrate the marvels of Long Island’s marine life together.


Written by


Hi! I'm the Editor in Chief at the CANZ. I oversee all articles published by our writers and even write some of me own! In my free time, I love to try new restaurants, hang with friends and go on walks. I am always down to catch an amazing view of the sun or the stars!