San Juan Islands, located in the Salish Sea, is home to an array of wildlife and natural wonders, but perhaps the most popular attraction is the breathtaking sight of whales. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the San Juan Islands to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. With several tour companies available, it can be hard to know where to start or which one is the best fit for you. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the best whale watching tours in San Juan Islands, what makes them unique, and how to choose the perfect one for your next unforgettable adventure. So grab your binoculars and let’s dive in!
The 4 Best Whale Watching in San Juan Islands
- Whale Watching from Friday Harbor
- Anchorets Whale Watching
- Orcas Island Whale Watching
- Guaranteed Whale Watching Tour
The 4 Best Whale Watching in San Juan Islands
1. Whale Watching from Friday Harbor
Get up close with the orca whales off the San Juan Islands near Seattle on this 4-hour whale-watching cruise. San Juan Island is where the southern resident killer whales live about six months out of the year from mid-April to October, making it one of the best places to view orca whales. You’ll experience the beauty of San Juan while enjoying the best killer whale watching area. Whales have been viewed on over 90% of the tours so you’re guaranteed to see marine mammals. The package includes whale watching cruise, local taxes, transportation to/from Friday Harbor from Seattle, gratuities, and a port fee of USD1.00 per person. You will be picked up and dropped off at Friday Harbor where you’ll be able to find the office located on Front Street to the right in the lower level of the 2 story gray building. The activity ends back at the meeting point, so you can enjoy every moment without any worry. Experience nature’s beauty at its best with this unforgettable whale-watching tour.
2. Anchorets Whale Watching
Get up close to resident killer whales, humpback whales, and gray whales on this unforgettable 3-hour guided whale-watching cruise from Anacortes, the home port of the San Juan Islands near Seattle. Led by experienced naturalist guides and captains, you’ll travel through some of the most picturesque scenery in the Pacific Northwest in search of these magnificent creatures. Along the way, spot a variety of ocean wildlife in their natural environment, such as seals, porpoises, sea lions, otters, and an array of birds. Guaranteed sightings are available from April through early September. This tour is perfect for the entire family and includes high-speed vessel transportation, a professional guide, and gratuities. The meeting point is located at 2201 Skyline Way, Anacortes, Washington, USA. Simply head to the yellow building with a red roof past Skyline Marine.
3. Orcas Island Whale Watching
Witness the beauty of resident killer whales in their natural habitat with the Orcas Island Whale Watching tour. Led by naturalist guides and captains, climb aboard a high-speed vessel from Eastsound and embark on a 3.5-hour guided whale-watching tour. As you explore the picturesque scenery of Orcas Island, keep an eye out for orca, humpback, and gray whales. Along the way, spot other marine wildlife like seals, porpoises, sea lions, otters, and a variety of birds. Sightings are guaranteed from April through early September. Check-in will begin 30 minutes prior to the departure time at 8368 Orcas Rd r, Eastsound, WA 98245, USA. Gratuities are included in the experience.
4. Guaranteed Whale Watching Tour
Observe Pacific Northwest whales in their natural environment on a 3.5-hour tour departing from Seattle. With the chance to see orcas, humpbacks, and minkes up close, your experienced guide will teach you all about the marine life you’ll encounter. In the event that you don’t see any whales during your excursion, enjoy a second journey on the boat free of charge. Experience the local marine life in its natural environment and enjoy the personalized experience of a small group. Choose from two departure times during the summer.
Included in this tour is a professional guide, food and drinks, and gratuities. The meeting point is located at 8368 Orcas Rd Eastsound WA 98245 USA, which requires taking the Washington State Ferry to get to. The activity ends back at the meeting point. Please note that this tour is not wheelchair accessible, and confirmation will be received at time of booking. Join this guaranteed whale watching tour for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the San Juan Islands.
Whale Watching in San Juan Islands: FAQs Answered
Are you planning on going on a whale watching tour in San Juan Islands? There is no doubt that whale watching is a magical experience that leaves a lasting impression. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in the region. However, before you embark on your journey to watch these gentle giants in the wild, you probably have a few questions in mind. In this article, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about whale watching in San Juan Islands.
1. What types of whales do you see in San Juan Islands?
San Juan Islands are famous for offering the best Orca or Killer Whale watching in the world. The Southern Resident Killer Whales, which consist of three distinct pods, are the main attraction in the San Juan Islands. You can also spot Transient Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Gray Whales. Some tour operators also promise sightings of Dall’s porpoises, harbor seals, California sea lions, bald eagles, and other marine wildlife.
2. When is the best time to go whale watching in San Juan Islands?
The whale watching season in San Juan Islands typically runs from April through September, although the best months for whale watching are between May and September. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, and the chances of spotting whales are higher. However, it’s essential to understand that Orca sightings can never be guaranteed.
3. What should I wear for whale watching?
Layered clothing is the key to staying comfortable during your whale watching tour. Even on sunny days, temperatures can quickly drop on the water. Wear a waterproof jacket, hat, and gloves to keep you warm and dry. Don’t forget to wear sturdy, non-slip shoes.
4. How long does a typical whale watching tour last?
A typical whale watching tour lasts around 3 to 4 hours, although some operators offer full-day tours. Whichever tour operator you choose, make sure to show up at least 30 minutes before departure. This will give you plenty of time to board the boat, receive a safety briefing, and start your adventure.
5. Can I bring my own food and drinks?
Most whale watching tour operators provide snacks and drinks on board. However, if you have specific dietary requirements, it’s best to bring your food and drinks. You can also bring your water bottles, but we recommend that you avoid bringing disposable plastic water bottles and instead opt for a reusable one.
6. Can I bring my camera?
Absolutely! We encourage you to bring your camera and snap some incredible photos of the whales and other marine wildlife. If you don’t have a camera, don’t worry; most tour operators offer rental cameras or have on-board photographers available. Don’t forget to charge your camera’s battery and bring extra memory cards.
7. Is whale watching safe?
Yes, whale watching is entirely safe as long as you follow the instructions of the tour operator and the crew. All boat captains and crews undergo extensive training and adhere to strict safety protocols. Additionally, every boat is equipped with life jackets, safety gear, and emergency equipment. It’s essential to listen carefully to the safety briefing before the tour begins and follow the crew’s instructions throughout the tour.
8. Is it ethical to go whale watching?
The whale watching industry has been subject to several controversies regarding the impact of tourism on the whales’ well-being and their natural habitats. However, when done respectfully and sustainably, whale watching can support conservation efforts and raise awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans. Choose a tour operator that follows the whale watching guidelines set forth by the Pacific Whale Watch Association or other recognized organizations.
How to do Whale Watching in San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most popular places to go whale watching. The islands are home to various kinds of whales, including orcas, humpbacks, grays, and minkes. If you want to see these magnificent creatures up close and personal, here’s the step-by-step guide on how to do whale watching in San Juan Islands.
Step 1: Choose a Whale Watching Company
The first step in doing whale watching in San Juan Islands is to choose a reputable company that offers such services. Some popular companies that offer whale watching tours include San Juan Cruises, Island Adventures, and Western Prince Whale Watching & Wildlife Tours. You can search the internet for reviews and ratings of these companies to help you choose which one is best for you.
Step 2: Choose the Right Time to Go
The best time to go whale watching in San Juan Islands is from May to October. During these months, the weather is generally good, and the whales are more active. If you are lucky, you might even spot other marine animals like seals, sea lions, and porpoises.
Step 3: Dress Appropriately
It’s important to dress appropriately for your whale watching tour. Bring warm clothing, as the weather can be chilly out on the water. Also, wear comfortable shoes with good traction to avoid slipping on a wet boat deck. You can bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen too.
Step 4: Prepare Your Camera Equipment
Make sure to bring your camera equipment and prepare it accordingly. Bring extra batteries, memory cards, and lenses if necessary. You can also bring binoculars for a closer view of the whales and other marine animals.
Step 5: Follow the Rules and Guidelines
Respect the whales and their natural habitat. Follow the rules and guidelines given by your whale watching company and the local authorities. Typically, you are not allowed to get too close to the whales or disturb their natural behavior. Listen to the guides and crew of your tour boat.
Step 6: Enjoy the Experience
Once you’re on board and the tour has started, sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. Keep an eye out for any marine animals that show themselves. The crew will be giving you instructions on where to look, so listen to them carefully.
Other Useful Tips
– Book your whale watching tour in advance to avoid disappointment.
– Bring some snacks or food, especially if you’re going on a longer tour.
– Take any necessary motion sickness medication before the tour.
– Bring some cash for tipping the crew if you feel they did a good job.
– Be mindful of the environment. Don’t litter, and dispose of trash properly.
Book Your Tour Now
Whale watching in San Juan Islands is an incredible experience that you will never forget. Through careful planning and preparation, you can make sure that you have an amazing and safe time. Remember to follow the rules and guidelines given by your whale watching company and respect the animals and their homes.
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