What is the best way to see seals on Cape Cod?

Seals on Nantucket Sound
Harbor Seal on Cape Cod

Many years ago, I summered on Cape Cod with my best friend’s family. They rented a house in Chatham which included a motor boat to go over to Monomoy Island. I remember as a young girl being so fascinated with the seals that we saw daily.  There is something magical to behold in a seal’s face when it bobs up out of the water. Those large eyes are just so endearing with the splash of whiskers and glistening nose. They just remind me of the same feeling I have when playing with a puppy.


Before giving you some tips on how to see them, I thought it would be interesting to share some information about our seals on Cape Cod and their natural habitat. There are two types of seals here, including the cute Harbor Seal and the larger Gray Seal.

Sunbathing Seals on Monomoy
Sunbathing seals

Their breeding season runs between September through March. Many seals can be seen on Cape Cod in large numbers between September and October as they are arriving to the islands in large numbers. Harbor seals can be as large as 6 feet and weigh up to 245 pounds and the larger Grey Seal can be between 7.5-10 feet long and weigh upwards of 750 pounds.

A recent article in our local paper noted that the seals are back in force, with between 30,000 and 50,000 primarily living in the waters on and around Cape Cod.  There are mixed feeling about this large population of seals finding Cape Cod a comfortable habitat as they also attract sharks and can be problems for our fishermen.

Are your intrigued and wanting to experience these fun creatures up close in their natural habitat?  Plan a trip to our lovely inn to see our Cape Cod seals up close as we can reserve your seat on a excursion boat that runs out of Harwich Port.

Monomoy Island excursion
Monomoy Island Excursions from Harwich Port

Many of our guests love to grab some of our beach chair with a beach umbrella and watch the seal from one of the National Seashore beaches. The rangers at the Salt Pond Visitors Center are always available to give our guests the latest advise on beach sightings. The seals love to sun on sand bars and choose different locations in the fall for their afternoon sunning:) .

How Can I Experience the Cape Cod Seals?

If you are wanting to see the seal up close on a charted boat, we love to recommend the following three companies:

Monomoy Island Ferry

Our favorite charter departs from the breathtaking Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters.  Their fun-filled tours also includes sightings of other wildlife on the refuge including the American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, and Roseate Tern. While seals are the main attraction, they also give you up close views of Stage Harbor Light House as well as a taste of the sea life on Nantucket Sound. The tickets cost $40 for adults and $30 for children 10 and under. The departure times for seal watching are 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Beachcomber Tours

Another company in Chatham for seal watching is Beachcomber Tours. Their bright yellow boats depart from the Municipal Fish Pier.  Once you set sail, you will not only see seals but also hear the interesting stories of the sea-loving captains.

Learn all about Cape Cod seals when you embark on their 90-minute adventure. Tickets are $29 for adults, $27 for seniors 65 and older, $25 for kids 3-15, under 3 are free.

Blue Claw Boat Tours

The Blue Claw Boat Tours   departs out of Orleans at the Nauset Marina.  The tour  cruises through the Chatham Harbor usually sighting a  nearby seal colony. Along the way, you will see the Chatham Lighthouse, the Cape Cod National Shoreline, small islands, and amazing birds. Strike up a conversation with the captain and learn more about the Cape Cod seals.

Blue Claw Boat Tours depart from Orleans and have tours lasting for 1 hour and 45 minutes just about every day in the summer. Tickets are $40 for adults and $30 for children.

If you would like to see the seals in their natural habitat it’s also fun to go to the following beaches and piers,  and with patience, timing and a pair of the inn’s binoculars you can usually see these playful creatures on Cape Cod.

Chatham Fish Pier

Chatham Fish Pier
Chatham Fish Pier

Enjoy fried seafood, lobster rolls, chowder and a rich lobster bisque so good you’ll want to get some to go, and then have fun on the observation deck watching the seals. Since many of the fishermen throw out their bait when they return home, this is a popular destination for seals. You can also walk a few yards to the beach at the edge of the parking lot.

 Coast Guard Beach in Eastham

Seals on Coast Guard Beach
Seals on Coast Guard Beach

The best sightings are in the fall when the seals arrive in masses. This beach was just voted one of the top 10 beaches in the country by Dr. Beach. See a previous post for details.

Chatham Light House Beach

Chatham Light House
Chatham Light House


We love the Chatham Light House and  recommend to our guests that they stop during their day trip to Chatham. It’s a great spot to take in the views, smell the sea air and sometimes to see the seals.

Nauset Beach in Orleans-

Nauset Beach
Nauset beach

This is our go to beach year round. Harrison loves to ocean swim and you can walk for miles and miles on this breathtaking beach. During the winter months there was several snowy owl sightings and during the fall you will probably see some seals!

Monomoy Island

Monomoy Island Refuge
Monomoy Island Refuge

This is a breath taking spot on Cape Cod, filled with natural beauty and wildlife. It’s all protected land and a family owned seal boat runs from this location in the summer time, as the best spot to see seals in their natural habitat is on Monomoy Island which is only accessible by boat.

Ballston Beach

Ballston Beach
Ballston Beach

This is a beautiful, unspoiled beach with huge dunes. It is a hike down but once there you can usually find a spot all to yourself. In the fall months, it’s fun to bring a blanket and just watch for seals. They usually will give you quite a show.

Come Stay with us

Consider a stay with us at our romantic Cape Cod bed and breakfast. Many of our rooms include romantic fireplaces for the fall and our pool is solar heated and will be open though Columbus Day. We also have created a wonderful new Seal Watching Package. Check out our web site for details.

Happy Seal watching!

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