Where to find Whale Watching Cruise and Charter Boats
Whale watching in Washington typically focuses on Orcas (Killer Whales) in and around the San Juan Islands of Northwest Washington. Whales, however, also are often seen up and down the Washington coast and the species is not confined to the Orca. Gray whales and humpback whales also are seen as well as a wide variety of other marine wildlife.
Orca whales, also popularly known as "Killer Whales", are the most sought after whales for watching. Orca's typically travel in family groups called pods and generally are recognized as either transient or resident groups.
Gray whales also are sought after by whale watchers. Grays are seen offshore up and down the Washington's coast.
Passengers on charter boats probably account for the greatest number of people engaged in whale watching, but many other people enjoy sightings from kayaks, fishing boats, sail boats and power boats of every size and description. Other watchers flock to well - known spots on island or mainland shores.
One of the most popular shore locations in Washington for whale watching is Lime Kiln Point State park on the west side of San Juan Island. The 36-acre day-use park is about 10 miles from the town of Friday Harbor and is open year around from 8:00 AM to dusk. During summer months transit buses are available to island visitors arriving by ferry that didn't drive a vehicle.
Orca whales in Washington are seen year around though most often during the whale watch season beginning in April and running through September.
Whale watching for Gray whales is best during the months of March, April, and May as they migrate to summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific from their summer breeding waters of Baja California.
The San Juan Islands draws more whale watchers, but the Orca whales are seen all along the coast of Washington as well as in and around the San Juan Islands and the waters of Puget Sound.
A number of charter boat companies run whale watching cruises and you can find such charters at various ports around Puget Sound. We have listed below a number of well-know charter operations according to their home ports. The ports are listed alphabetically. In most cases it is a good idea to call ahead and make reservations in advance of the date you might want to join a whale watching cruise.
Each of the ports listed below also offer a variety of accommodations from bed and breakfast lodging to hotels and motels should you wish to make an overnight trip and enjoy your whale watching outing at a more leisurely pace. To learn more about each port, just click on the name and a link will take you to the respective town in a new browser window.
Scroll down to see listings for whale watching charter boats and cruises.
Island Adventures welcomes you to an outstanding whale watching experience! Anacortes is the ideal departure point as there is no need to hassle with the ferry! On our 5-6 hour GUARANTEED whale watching tours you have to opportunity to see a variety of wildlife. You can expect many including a full time naturalist on every trip, free binocular use, a 64 page wildlife viewing guide, on board food service, two spacious bathrooms, full walk around viewing decks, and a large indoor heated cabin. This tour was voted the #1 whale watching tour in western Washington three years in a row!
Hop aboard the 30ft power catamaran, Peregrine, with retired school teacher, professional photographer, and naturalist, Captain Jim Maya, and noted whale blogger/naturalist Jeanne Hyde. They will help you have a whale of a time aboard one of the fastest long-range whale watch boats of the San Juan Islands. Powered by two Yamaha 4-stroke engines that are eco-friendly and quiet, the boat features wrap around safari windows, a private head (toilet) and a cabin that seats six. Maya's Whale Watch Charters operates all year. Never more than six passengers. Intimate. Unique. Read reviews in TripAdvisor.com. Please call for departure times.
Our Guarantee: We see orca whales on over 90% of our tours. If you do not see orca whales on your tour, then your next tour is free of charge. Cruise in comfort aboard the classic motor yacht "Odyssey" with certified Naturalist guides. Enjoy heated lounge style cabins and outside viewing decks with padded seating while viewing orca whales, sea lions, seals, porpoise, bald eagles and a variety of sea birds in their natural habitat. Two amazing certified Naturists will be on board to share information about the flora, fauna and Salish Sea region. Carbon neutral business and locally owned operated by second generation islanders. Established 1994.
Whale~Wildlife Watching, Lighthouse & Eco Tours ~ Since 1990. In the heart of the San Juan Islands on Orcas Island, start where the whales are. Join us for a 3+ hour cruise aboard 56' "Orcas Express" through 172 beautiful islands. Daily departures: 1:30 to 5:00, May to October. Naturalist guided, hydrophone equipped (listen to the whales), heated cabin, great outside decks, hot and cold beverages, binoculars, restroom, as well as cold weather gear on board for you. We also offer monthly boat trips. See "Five Light by Sea" Historic Lighthouse tours. USCG licensed & AAA rated
FIVE STAR RATING and GUARANTEED Whale Sightings! Gray Whales (Langley): March 3- May 18. Orca Whales (Anacortes): May 23 - October 4. Come aboard the 100-foot Mystic Sea for fun & educational whale watching cruises, dinner cruises, weddings & corporate events. Seize your opportunity to see wildlife - Bald Eagles, Puffins, Porpoise, Sea Lions, & much more! We have a highly experienced crew, onboard naturalist, large viewing windows, heated, enclosed aft deck, outside viewing area, onboard food service (Orca season), and free binocular use. Discounts: AAA, Military, Seniors, Students & Groups. For whale watching cruises book online and save up to $20!
Kayak the beautiful west-side of San Juan Island with our naturalist guides. Crystal Seas offers 3 hour, day (6 hour) and multi-day tours and provides free transportation from Friday Harbor to our kayak docks on Mitchell Bay. While kayaking be on the lookout for orca whales, harbor seals, sea lions, porpoise, bald eagles and a variety of sea birds. We specialize in small groups but can take large private groups as well. Book both your kayaking and a whale watching cruise though us and receive 10% off. Owner operated since 1994 by second generation islanders.
Personalized Whale Watching and Wildlife Trips. Hop aboard one of Outer Island Expeditions custom high-speed aluminum vessels for an up close and personal experience. All our vessels have an enclosed cabin and restroom. We have scheduled trips and custom private trips. We can accommodate singles, couples, families, and larger groups (up to 24 people). Our fast vessels mean you spend more time with the whales and wildlife. All our trips are led by trained naturalists. Check out our website for more details: www.outerislandx.com. Please contact us at (360) 376-3711 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any question or to book your trip.
On our 70-90 mile whale watch cruise around the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands, you will experience a seven-hour narrated scenic tour by qualified naturalists. The San Juan Islands are home to extensive bird species as well as harbor seals, porpoises, sea lions, Minke and Gray Whales. Our naturalists will speak to the history, geology, significant landmarks (Light Houses, etc.) and our specialty the Orca or Killer Whales. The experience of seeing the whales in their natural setting is extraordinary, and at times they breach so close to our boat that our passengers get splashed!
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Operation Orca: Springer, Luna and the Struggle to Save West Coast Killer Whales by Daniel Francis and Gill Hewlett. Through the amazing story of these two "orphan" whales, Operation Orca tells the larger story of orcas in the Pacific Northwest, the people who have studied them and the transformation of the whale's image from killer to icon. Order now...
Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast: Baja, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia (California Natural History Guides) by Sarah G. Allen, Joe Mortenson, and Sophie Webb. This field guide describes the whales, dolphins, seals and otters from Mexico to British Columbia including Washington. Featuring many color illustrations, photographs, drawings, and maps. Order now...
The Complete Whale-Watching Handbook: A Guide to Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the World by Ben Wilson and Angus Wilson. This book covers the biology of each creature listed and has a species guide. Sections explain the study of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, examine the impact of whale-watching and offer practical advice on how to view, photograph and enjoy these creatures in the wild. Order now...
The Grandest of Lives: Eye to Eye with Whales by Douglas H. Chadwick. Wildlife biologist Douglas H. Chadwick takes readers inside the world of modern-day scientific whale observation, from gathering data to weathering storms to spirited scientific debate. Detailed portraits of the humpback, northern bottlenose, blue whale, minke whale, and orca representing a cross-section of the forms and behaviors of cetaceans worldwide. Order now...
Whales: Touching the Mystery by Doug Thompson. This book describes the hidden lives of whales, their migrations, and the modern threats they face. He also chronicles the efforts of human champions who are working to end whale hunting and promote whale watching. This appealing package includes photos and maps as well as a first-rate companion DVD. Order now...
Great Places: Washington: A Recreational Guide to Washington's Public Lands and Historic Places for Birding, Hiking, Photography, Fishing, Hunting and Camping by John Kruse. The geology, animal and plant life, and history of Washington's most-storied and scenic locales, including the best local lodging and amenities are explained in this full color guide. Order now...
Moon Washington, 9th Edition. by Ericka Chickowski. From urban cities to rural towns, this native gives an insider's perspective on everything the Evergreen State has to offer featuring great places to eat, scenic drives and volunteer vacations. Discover Seattle's arts and culture, climbing Mt. Rainier, sleeping in a train car near Elbe and much more. Order now...
Frommer's Washington State, 7th Edition by Karl Samson. This expert author tells you where to find great places to stay in every price range, the best outdoor recreation and much more. Utilize the planning tools to maximize your next adventure in the Evergreen State. Order now...
Hidden Washington: Including Seattle, Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, Olympic Peninsula, Cascades and Columbia River Gorge (Hidden Travel) by Eric Lucas. This author gets to know each community by going from neighborhood to neighborhood. This book will take you to all the great spots while describing both the famous attractions and hidden favorites. Order now...
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