5 of the Best Ways to See Orcas in San Juan Islands

Splashing Orcas in San Juan IslandsThe 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. Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching: 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. They operate small six passenger boats with an experienced naturalist on board 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 Friday Harbor 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 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. The heated salon is perfect for families equipped with coloring books and cushy padded seats.

3. Western Prince Cruises: Take a trip on their inflatable, zodiac-style boat, for an expedition adventure. Their fast and thrilling Western Explorer will promise a bit more wind in your hair. 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 Outfitters: Hop aboard the 42′ MV Sea Hawk which departs from Roche Harbor, on the north side of San Juan Island. Their engaging and educated naturalists and captains are considered experts in their field and work one-on-one to share their knowledge and experience. 

5. Shore-based Whale Watching: Spend an afternoon at Lime Kiln Point State Park, a 36 acre day use park on the west side of San Juan Island considered one of the best places in the world to view orca whales from shore. Bring a picnic and binoculars and settle in for the afternoon watching out over Haro Strait looking for that tell-tale sign of a whale.  

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