The San Juan Islands of Washington are the best place in the world to view Orca whales in the wild. Here, whale watching season spans from March through October, when salmon runs attract Orcas, Humpbacks, Minke, and Gray whales to the Salish Sea, giving guests the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these majestic creatures up close. In addition to circling fins and spouting blowholes, guests can discover a variety of native species including seals, porpoises, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, and numerous seabirds. With so much incredible wildlife to observe, you’re guaranteed to leave with unforgettable memories – just don’t forget to bring your camera! Here are some of our favorite ways to see the orcas in San Juan Islands.
Discover the Orcas in San Juan Islands
1. Legacy Charters: This family-owned and operated company has a passionate and knowledgeable crew that strive to make your wildlife adventure as special and memorable as possible. All of their whale watching tours have an experienced naturalist on board, as well as two informative guides to assist in your experience. You’ll also receive high-quality binoculars and hydrophones, so you can sense the whales like never before!
2. San Juan Safaris: Located just steps from the ferry landing, San Juan Safaris offers a 90% chance of spotting Orcas from their 55-foot boat. With only 40 guests or fewer on board, you’ll have plenty of space to move around and can enjoy an amazing, personalized experience. San Juan Safaris guarantees that you will see wild marine mammals, become educated about the Salish Sea, and leave with lifelong memories.
3. Western Prince Cruises: As the longest operating whale/wildlife company in the area, Western Prince Cruises takes pride in providing quality tours with a personal touch. Their tours generally run 3-4 hours and each is completely unique. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff will answer all of your questions and will provide insightful information about the whales, wildlife, and islands you’ll encounter.
4. San Juan Excursions: Hop aboard a converted 1941 Navy Search Vessel, The Odyssey, and get ready for a fantastic tour with San Juan Excursions! You’ll set sail in search of whales, sea lions, seals, and more, and can view it all from the boat’s comfortable, open-air deck. Plus, their spacious heated cabin is equipped with padded seating and a snack bar, so you can relax comfortably while learning all about the area’s animals.
5. San Juan Island Whale and Wildlife Tours: Join Captain Hobbes Buchanan on an eco-tour aboard the “Natsilane,” a 30-foot express cruiser that features inside and outside seating, a heated cabin, restroom, and warm courtesy jackets if needed. A six-passenger limit assures that you will receive the full attention of the Captain, whether you choose to take one of their daily whale and wildlife tours, a private charter, or a magical evening tour.
Book Your Stay at the Tucker House Inn
After you visit some of the best places to see orcas in San Juan Islands, head back to the Tucker House Inn and unwind in one of our beautiful rooms or suites. Our bed and breakfast is perched on a hill overlooking the town of Friday Harbor and Sunken Park, so you can continue to enjoy incredible, expansive views long after your whale watching excursion is over. We can’t wait to hear all about your adventures!
For more information on things to do in San Juan Island, download our free vacation guide.
Photo Credits: Postcards from Friday Harbor (cover) & Jim Maya with Maya’s Legacy Charters (right)