The San Juan Islands provide one of the best opportunities for whale watching Washington has to provide, offering protected waters and a huge variety of wildlife, which include our three pods of resident Orca whales. Anacortes is the perfect departure point for guaranteed whale watching and wildlife cruises.
Situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands provide calm waters (sea-sickness is very rare!), sunny skies, and an incredible backdrop for your whale watch adventures.
Only 90 miles north of Seattle, Washington, and 90 miles south of Vancouver BC, we are connected to the Washington mainland by bridges so visitors can drive directly to us for hassle free wildlife viewing. If you are visiting the northwest or are lucky enough to live here, don’t let this opportunity pass you by!
Excellent companies operate half-day whale watch tours out of downtown Anacortes, leaving you the rest of the day to explore. On-board naturalists, spacious viewing decks, guaranteed sightings, free binocular use, heated cabins and snacks, and respect for the whales are just some of the amenities you’ll enjoy. The routes that the boats take each day are determined by that morning’s whale information from their sighting network, other wildlife in the area, and the weather. It’s not determined by a ferry schedule or pre-determined route. In addition to whales, it’s also very likely that you’ll catch a glimpse of other wildlife, like: Bald Eagles, Tufted Puffins, Dall’s Porpoise, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Auklets, Cormorants, Seagulls, Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Grey Whales
What guests are saying about the whale watching tours in Anacortes:
We found Orca whales about an hour and half into the trip next to Lopez Island, then the pods just came coming we were surrounded by the Orcas, the Captain even had to turn off the boat not to disturb them and they swam right in front of the boat. They were breaching and playing around and even waving, what a great day! The boat it’s self is very comfortable and warm inside and extremely clean. The food they sell on board is just snack stuff and chili dogs so eat a good breakfast before you go then you can stop in town afterwards for a nice lunch. – Shawna, from Everett WA (May 2015)
We had a great whale watching experience this week … The indoor seating area was very comfortable, and with fresh flowers on the tables, was more than we were expecting. The crew was informative throughout the trip, pointing out island names and wildlife facts throughout the trip. We appreciated the binoculars and whale and bird fact sheets laid out for guests to read. Seeing such a variety of wildlife, including the J pod of orcas and a breaching humpback made the trip unforgettable! – Mary, from Seattle WA (May 2015)
My husband and I took a whale watching tour and had a great time! We saw a lot of amazing wildlife including one large whale that stayed with us for several hours. We will definitely come back! – Heather, from Denver CO (October 2014)
We had an excellent time!There were so many whales, there were pods of 6, there was a mama and baby, and many jumped near the boat. The captain was very knowledgeable about the whales and told us about the known pods in the area and there was even a naturalist on the boat who could tell us the names of the whales that we saw just by their identifying marks, and told us information about the pods… The captain told us the names of all the islands we passed, and pointed out 2 bald eagles sitting in a tree on one of the islands. In addition to a great number of orcas, we also saw some seals sunning themselves and some dolphins too. It was a lovely day and the sun was out, but it was very windy and cold, but the boat had an indoor area too with plenty of windows and seating areas. All and all it was a perfect whale watching trip and I’d highly highly recommend it…- Gina, from Granbury TX (October 2014)