To Whale Watch or Not: That is the Question for Families with Kids Visiting Acadia National Park

Check out the posts on TripAdvisor about whale watching, and you’ll find a lot of negatives – no whales, long trips, cold weather, and sea sickness. Still want to take your kids on a boat ride when you visit Acadia National Park? The Dive-In Theater gets rave reviews.

This five-star cruise leaves from a pier at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor on the aptly christened Starfish Enterprise. Last week we embarked upon our two-hour trip into Frenchman Bay, a body of water so deep and cold that it provides a rich habitat for an array of sea life. The bay is spotted with small islands, which further enrich the Seals Frenchman Bayenvironment.

Suddenly the boat began to circle a small rock outcropping and there on the top sat a large bald eagle. Lying on rocks below and swimming in the area were about twenty harbor seals. Minutes of leaving this sighting, we spotted harbor porpoises gracefully creating arcs in the water.

But this was only the beginning of the show.

We moored at a dive site and Diver Ed suited up with considerable fanfare. Fanfare isn’t really the right word. It’s more shtick. (Clearly, only his love of Maine and kids has kept Ed from stand-up.)

Diver Ed

Diver Ed

Mini Ed #104

Mini Ed #104

With a little help from his friends, Diver Ed took the plunge with a collection bag, real-time video and sound equipment, and Mini Ed, his action figure alter ego, who would provide scale for the adventures on the ocean floor. We then learned that this was Mini Ed #104. (The prior 103 had been unsuccessful in their battles with lobsters and crabs from the deep.)

Sitting comfortably on our benches, we watched on a large projection screen as Mini Ed began to explore. I glanced away only occasionally to see such sights as the Margaret Todd sailing by.

Margaret Todd

Margaret Todd

What happened when Diver Ed returned with critters in tow? We touched them, of course.

Boy with Sea Cucumber

Boy with Sea Cucumber

Animated instruction from Diver Ed

Animated instruction from Diver Ed

Whether a beautiful sea star (starfish to the uninitiated), slimy sea cucumber, or angry lobster, these creatures of Frenchman Bay were taken into temporary (and protective) custody in touch tanks, as we learned more. Did you know that sea stars can not only regenerate lost arms, but themselves be regenerated from a single arm?

Does he know he has a crab on his head?

Does he know he has a crab on his head?

We gently probed their varied surfaces. (I will not say the same for the four-year-olds who thrilled to the chaos of the touch tanks and, inhibition abandoned, initiated some aggressive dive-bombing with the lobsters.)

Kids at Touch Tank on Starfish Enterprise

Kids at Touch Tank on Starfish Enterprise

Girl with Seastar

Girl with Seastar

Most of the families on the cruise seemed to have four-year-olds in tow, but the three eighteen-year-olds who came with me were pretty enthusiastic. But I surpassed them all.

If you’d like more information about things to do in Maine, visit OUR ACADIA. You’ll find itineraries for a vacation to Acadia National Park, tips for restaurants, and 22 ideas for activities with kids.

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One Comment to “To Whale Watch or Not: That is the Question for Families with Kids Visiting Acadia National Park”

  1. Better still, come to Washington. The Puget Sound is like glass and most companies guarantee whales as they use spotter planes to find them.

    Then there is Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island where you can sit on the rocks and watch the whales. Often they come within 100 feet of the shore.

    Washington is THE place to see whales!

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