Lonely Planet Writer

Massachusetts has a new 200 mile whale trail celebrating its maritime history

Whales are some of the largest and most fascinating animals on the planet, and some places in the world have a history that’s deeply intertwined with their existence. Massachusetts is one of these places.

Humpback whales are among the most popular with whale watchers thanks to their frequent breaching behaviors. Photo by Bryce Flynn/Getty Images

The northeastern New England state has a “special connection with these beloved creatures of the deep,” says the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, who has launched a new “whale trail” this summer exactly to highlight that history.

Sunset at Race Point Beach in Provincetown. Photo by DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The whale trail is an online map that goes from Newburyport to Nantucket, passing by Boston, Plymouth, Cape Cod and Provincetown, for a total of forty stops that can be done by foot, car, train, bike or ferry. Along the way, it highlights museums, tours, historic sites and of course, whale-watching excursions. For example, once you get to Cape Cod Bay you can board a wide range of ocean safaris to spot fin whales and humpbacks breach and lounge above the surface.

Herman Melville and its masterpiece Moby Dick get a highlight on the trail as well — you can follow the author’s steps in New Bedford, where Melville joined a whaling crew and embarked on the sea journey that would inspire his novel, for example, or you can travel west to Pittsfield and Mount Greylock, which allegedly inspired Melville with the image of a white whale.

The Sankaty Head Light on Nantucket Island. Photo by thomas h. mitchell/500px

In its entirety, the trail took six months to create and covers around 200 miles and 300 years of Moby Dick-era maritime history, but you can choose to tour as much or as little of the trail as you wish, whenever you want during the year.

A humpach whale breaching around Cape Ann. Photo by Garry Black/Getty Images

If you’re interested in learning more about the Whale Trail and its forty stops, you can visit its official website here.