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74810

How to choose the best boat tour in the Bay Bulls and Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

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Are you about to book a boat tour in Bay Bulls and the Witless Bay Marine Ecological reserve? If you’re visiting Newfoundland, especially in the St. John’s area, taking a boat tour into the ecological reserve is a must do activity you don’t want to miss out on during your visit to Newfoundland. Maybe you’ve seen it featured on National Geographic, heard people talking, or seen videos online.

It’s true, the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, and especially the area around Great Island, it’s unlike any place on earth.  Choose the right Witless bay boat tour operator in the marine protected zone and you’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime. Be fairly warned though, not all Bay Bulls boat tours and Witless Bay Boat tours are the same. Choose wrong and you’ll end up feeling underwhelmed along with a hole in your wallet.

I know boat tours leave from a place close to St. John’s called Bay Bulls. How do I choose the best boat tour in Bay Bulls? 

If you’re like everyone else, you’re probably wondering what boat tour to choose from in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland. Maybe you’ve heard of many Bay Bulls boat tour options, and maybe you’ve also heard the Witless Bay Marine Ecological Reserve is the spot to see rare seabirds, marine mammals, icebergs, puffins, and whales. But with more boat tour operators than your can count, how do you know what one to chose? 

Bay Bulls offers several boat tour operators embarking from the industrial port of Bay Bulls. The port is actually really far from the witless bay marine Ecological Reserve (the interesting parts) which means you can expect up to 40 min of large ship diesel steaming just to get out of the commercial port of bay bulls and down the coastline to where the actions is. Bay Bulls is popular with large boat tour operators which sometimes take several hundred people on a single voyage.

These high volume boats are great for parties, wheelchairs, and big groups, but unless you like getting scripted wildlife interpretation by a guy shouting out through a loudspeaker, these big ships may fall short of the whale watching and wildlife viewing experience of a lifetime.

Are there boat tour operators inside the Ecological Reserve?

Yes, if you drive 10 min past Bay Bulls, you can take a smaller vessel with Great Island Boat Tours that departs from a wharf directly across from great island  in a historic community (quite the contrast to the industrial setting in Bay Bulls). You can skip the industrial pier and ocean transfer, which means you can start seeing whales, puffins, rare seabirds, and marine mammals from the moment you depart.  If you are able to climb three steps and sit down, this boat trip is a fantastic choice, however the vessel is not wheelchair accessible.

The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve Map

Is it better to take a smaller boat?

When it comes to encountering whales on the ocean, smaller boats are the way to go. Marine mammals like whales often avoid large ships, which means the larger Bay Bulls tour boat operators often spend their time chasing whales and spotting them from far away.

Small boats, however, have a completely different vibe. It’s common for whales to swim under and around smaller boats like the one used by Great Island Boat Tours. You’ll be shocked at how up close and personal you can get with wildlife when you’re on a smaller and quieter vessel.

How big is the Great Island Boat Tour Boat?

If you compare the Great Island Boat Tour Boat with large super tour boats in Bay Bulls, it’s looks tiny, but actually the boat itself is larger than you think. Below is a photo comparison of the Great Island Boat Tour Boat and a standard Bay Bulls High Capacity Tour Boat.

Is it worth spending a few extra dollars to go on a smaller boat?

The price difference is really negligible, especially when you factor in just how much better a smaller and closer boat actually is. Avoid sea sickness and the long diesel steam over to Great Island from Bay Bulls and instead start having fun from the moment you arrive at the wharf.

You might save $12 taking a high capacity production tour from Bay Bulls, but is that why you really came here?

What is the take away about boat tours in bay bulls and the witless bay marine protected zone?

The main take away when it comes to booking the best boat tour in the witless bay marine ecological reserve and bay bulls area:

If you need a full service alcohol bar or need unrestricted wheelchair access, a high capacity production boat tour operator from Bay Bulls is a smart choice, but if you are able to walk three steps and sit town, skip the factory style tour boats for an authentic Newfoundland small group adventure. You will like it so much more.

Have you recently been on a boat tour in the Bay Bulls and Witless Bay Ecological Reserve? What was it like? Please share your experience in the comments below. We want to hear from you, and most of all, we just want you to be happy.

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About Us

Whale House Guest House offers luxury boutique private suites with outdoor hot tubs overlooking humpback whale feeding grounds. Located next to the east coast trail in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, just 30 min from downtown St. John’s.

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