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 Gray Whales.
What guests are saying about the whale watching tours in Anacortes:
The crew gives you an excellent experience of encountering wildlife. We saw Humpback whales breach and a pod of Orca whales that swam alongside the boat! Not to mention bald eagles, seals, and many other types of wildlife. We would love to go again! – Eric, from Florida (May 2018)
We had an awesome day. The crew was friendly and informative with pointing out wildlife and knowledge of the islands. They went above and beyond in hunting down reported whale sightings. We saw 2 humpbacks, orcas, seals, and a bald eagle. They provide binoculars and I suggest taking them outside when viewing. Seeing the orcas closer was awesome. Prepare for a long day as we didn’t return until 5 pm. A definite recommend! – Jennifer (May 2018)
From the get-go, we were seeing harbor porpoises, bald eagles, seals, sea lions, and various birds. We traveled about an hour and met up with J Pod, which is a resident pod, it was the first time they were spotted back in town in a while, and we spent about an hour watching and photographing them. The whales were amazing to see and the crew recognized individual members and were able to point them out to us. When we finally had to turn around to head back to port, there was still more to see. Sea lions and bald eagles, then right before we got back to the dock a Minke Whale popped up and we were able to view that for a little bit. We wound up being a little late getting back in, but I’d rather have been late and seen and experienced all we did. It was nice knowing the crew was more about getting us to see the whales and other animals than on a time crunch. Overall amazing! – Claire (March 2018)
We had an amazing day! I can’t believe how many grey whales we saw. We even got to see one feeding just off the coastline. My kids were nervous to go but all the staff was wonderful answering all their questions. We will definitely go for another tour one day, maybe when the orcas are in the area. – Sasha (April 2018)
Are You Ready To Experience Anacortes?
Want to learn more about things to do in Anacortes, Washington? Our website has lots of information on Anacortes restaurants, activities, and special events to help guide your plans for an island getaway. You can also find our Experience Anacortes app in the Apple Store and on Google Play.