Campobello Island / Grand Manan / Saint Andrews by the Sea / Travel

East Coast Mermaid’s Top Picks for Whale Watching in New Brunswick

I’m often asked, what I do love most about living in New Brunswick.

And the answer is VERY easy.

It’s the fact that in the summer months, I can go from a Zoom call with clients to finding myself in the Bay of Fundy within 15 minutes surrounded by humpback whales, puffins, and more!

Think that sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s no siren song. It’s just a normal day here in coastal New Brunswick!

Whether you live by the shore or not, we’re pretty freaking lucky that just hours from all major New Brunswick cities, you can hop on a boat and see humpback whales, finbacks (the second largest whale in the world), minkes, — and if you’re extra lucky— Old Thom, an orca whale that likes to frequent the Bay of Fundy.

Not to mention, you may also spot puffins, porpoises, dolphins, cute seals, sharks, sunfish and so much more!

One of the most common topics that I’m asked during the summer months is whale watching in the Fundy Isles. So I couldn’t resist putting together my top picks for my favorite whale watching experiences in New Brunswick.

Are you ready to dive in?

Let’s dive right in with my favorite destination in New Brunswick for whale watching – Grand Manan Island!

I’m a little biased because we all know Grand Manan is my favorite place on earth AND we are now property owners on the island. BUT it also happens to be an amazing destination for whale watching between July and September. In fact, it’s where I went on my first Bay of Fundy whale watching tour 22 years ago!

Grand Manan is only accessible by a 1.5-hour ferry ride that you can catch in Blacks Harbour, which is about 40 minutes from Saint John. In addition to the cost of your whale tour, plan to budget about $65 to $90 for a couple to a family of four (and depending on the age of your children) for the ferry. You will ONLY pay for the ferry on your return trip to the mainland.

If you’re whale watching off Grand Manan, I recommend planning to stay at least one night on the island so that you don’t want to have to worry about catching your ferry or the drive home after a day at sea.

Need accommodation or restaurant recommendations? Start planning your trip by checking out my 2023 East Coast Mermaid Guide to Grand Manan Island.

If you want to have an epic whale watching adventure off Grand Manan Island, trust me when I tell you that you want to sail with Captain Matt Lambert this summer.

A few years ago, when Lambert Family Adventures first started offering whale watching cruises off the island, I kept hearing raving reviews. Today – they’re not only my favorite whale watching cruise on the island, but I am incredibly lucky to call them my friends too!

The Lamberts offer several tour options throughout the day, a 9:00am, 12:00pm, and 3:00pm. Tours are two hours in length and it will be the most magical two hours of your trip. They also on occasion will offer a sunrise tour option departing just before sunrise and if they do, BOOK IT! Here’s a look at one of my sunrise tours from 2022.

Because the weather can be very unpredictable on the island, I recommend that all of my friends and tide pool buddies who have their heart set on whale watching remain flexible. The Lamberts will do a great job of staying in touch about weather, fog, swells and do everything they can to get you out on the water when it’s safe to do so, for the best whale watching experience around.

As with any whale watching cruise, remember to wear layers. Just because things are beachy keen on the beach and it feels like the tropics, rest assured there will be a significant temperature drop once you get out on the Bay of Fundy. Always plan to over dress, as you can remove layers if it’s a particularly balmy day on the Bay.

Adults and children 12 and over, plan to budget $115 + tax per person for the tour. Reservations are strongly recommended! You can book online or give my friend Heather a shout at 506-321-0944.

Next up, if you’re looking for a whale experience off the beaten path—with a few ferry rides included or a little detour through beautiful Maine —you must plan an adventure to Campobello Island.

To get to Campobello, you will first have to take a FREE 20-minute ferry ride from L’Étete to Deer Island {ferry schedule here} and then a paid 30-minute ferry ride from Deer Island to Campobello Island. For planning purposes, the Deer Island Ferry landing is about one hour from Saint John.

When you’re crossing from Deer Island to Campobello, always keep your eyes peeled. You may even spot a whale or two, and definitely some porpoises on the ferry crossing!

You can also travel across the border into Maine, drive 45 minutes and access the island by a bridge from Lubec, which is a fun option too. In fact sometimes, I like to go via the ferries and come home via Maine. Just don’t forget your passport!

In addition to your whale cruise, plan to budget $60-70 for your ferry rides to and from the island. You can access the Campobello Island ferry schedule + rates here.

As getting to the island requires a bit more travel and planning, I definitely recommend planning to stay overnight on the island for a night or too. I can’t say enough good things about Pollock Cove Seaside Retreat – it’s so dreamy! Or check out the island’s cozy motels such as Friar’s Bay Inn and Cottages or the Whale Watch Motel.

New this year and owned and operated by friends of this mermaid, East Quoddy Tours is offering all sorts of tour options from Campobello Island, including whale watching, sightseeing, beachcombing tours, fishing and more.

Photo Credit: East Quoddy Tours, Stephanie Anthony

If you’re familiar with the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival, you should know that the very talented mermaid behind THAT success, Seaglass Stephanie, is also involved in this new tour company alongside her fiancé Captain Raymond Brown who will be taking you on this amazing adventure. Stephanie and Raymond are the nicest people you will meet and I cannot wait to cruise over to the island get out on the water with them!

Tours are 2 hours in length, leaving at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm, and 6:00 pm, weather permitting of course. Plan to budget $75 per person.

To book your East Quoddy adventure, you can book online here.

OK, let’s start by dipping our toes into the easiest and most accessible whale watching experience in New Brunswick. This one is great for families or anyone who wants to do a day trip to go whale watching.

Beautiful St. Andrews by the Sea is about 2hr30 minutes from Moncton, 1hr from Saint John and 1hr40 minutes from Fredericton—meaning if you want to, you can easily leave any of these New Brunswick cities in the morning, book an afternoon whale tour and have the kids home and in bed by 8:00 pm.

Totally do-able. Totally memorable.

While St. Andrews is home multiple whale watching tours, since this is East Coast Mermaid’s top picks — I’ll share my two favourites.

Quoddy Link Marine is a splashing good time and my go to whale watching tour company out of St. Andrews. I love booking an evening whale cruise on day one and a morning cruise on day two to have the best of both worlds. Last time I did this, it was the best 24 hours ever.

No two whale watching tours will ever be the same! And if your heart is set on having an incredible experience, booking more than one excursion provides a buffer in the event of inclement weather. Just saying.

Quoddy Link’s catamaran offers three spacious decks and indoor/outdoor options for whale watching. It’s also incredibly safe and cozy for families with small children. This is why it’s my #1 recommendation when people ask what cruise to bring their kiddos on.

The boat is incredibly stable, so if you’re prone to seasickness, it’s a safer option than other tours. It’s also St. Andrews ONLY wheelchair accessible vessel!

The average cruise times are 3 hours in length. Plan to budget from $180 for a couple to up to $300 for a family of four during peak season. And avoid disappointment by making a reservation well in advance if you can!

Fundy Tide Runners is my other recommended whale tour out of St. Andrews and is an absolute adventure!

Your tour takes place on a zodiac boat. This means when a whale is spotted in the distance, hold on tight—because this boat can FLY through the water. For that reason, all passengers over 90 lbs. must wear a Canadian approved full-length flotation suit. And trust me – you look totally cool in one.

For kiddos under 90 lbs., they will be provided with a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Children under five years of age are not permitted on the vessel. When you experience it for yourself, you’ll totally understand why. It’s QUITE the ride!

Cruise times are 2 hours in length and you should plan to budget from $180 for a couple to up to $330 for a family of four. And again, avoid disappointment by making reservations in advance.

Regardless of where you choose to set sail on your whale watching adventure this summer, here are a few helpful trips to ensure your experience is amazing!

I can’t wait for you to experience your whale watching adventure in New Brunswick. If you have any questions while planning your experience, don’t hesitate to reach out to or DM me on my shell phone!

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