Guaranteed Whale Watch Tours from 5 Departure Locations
The world's best opportunity to see wild orca whales is right here in the San Juan Islands, mid-April through October.
We are incredibly fortunate to be able to watch three resident pods of Orca whales (all fish eaters; approximately 90 whales), many groups of transient Orcas (the ones that feed on marine mammals), Minke and Humpback whales throughout the summer. The San Juan’s are home to a diverse community of other wildlife. On this tour guests may also see harbor seals, sea lions, Dall’s and harbor porpoise, bald eagles and many types of sea birds. The average tour covers 60 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
The southern resident orcas that we see on a regular basis have been studied for over 30 years and we continue to learn more about them. Our captains and crew have built a rapport with the local researchers, sharing knowledge to aid in protecting the species. Each whale is named and numbered by a photographic identification process and has their own distinct personality. Using our onboard photo-ID guide-books and digital images on a flat screen TV, individual whales can be recognized by comparing the pictures to the actual whale. The orca whales speak their own language using various clicks and whistles to communicate with and each pod (or family) has their own unique dialect — enabling us to tell the pods apart just by listening to them. We can also listen to their conversations by using underwater microphones (hydrophones).
Island Explorer 5
The Island Explorer 5 is simply the best whale watching vessel anywhere.
She is 98' long, 30' wide with a cruise speed of over 25 knots. She is also incredibly quiet which will enhance your whale watching experience. 20+ years of whale watching experience has gone into the design of the Island Explorer 5. She has three full walk-around outside viewing decks with cathedral bow seating that provides more outside viewing area than any tour boat in the region. There are also two large heated cabins with seating for all guests, state of the art A/V system, and large comfortable bathrooms. Onboard guests will enjoy our South of the Border Cafe with hot food, fresh products, beer and wine for sale.
- Outside rail viewing space on one side of the boat for all guests
- Indoor heated seating for all passengers
- Three viewing decks for the best possible vantage point over the water
- Best galley menu of any tour vessel in the area – fresh and changing with the seasons
- High-speed catamaran with speeds capable of 25+ knots, giving us one of the largest ranges in the industry
- AED defibrillator onboard with highly trained/qualified staff and crew
The Industry's Largest Range
Where will we go on the trip?
When whales are in the center of the map, most companies do see them – we just get more time. When the whales are up north or out west, the Island Explorer fleet are often the only American boats watching whales
Because of our vessel speed, size, and duration of our tour, we're able to guarantee whales. Often times, whales can move up to 100 miles in a 24 hour period. Every day is a new adventure, but rest assured that you're choosing the company with the highest whale sighting success rate in the area.
Whales have been spotted on 6431 of 6630 tours since 2002. No other company compares.
"Best whale watch boat in Washington"They will bend over backwards to find whales. I am a season pass holder and we have gone as far north as Salt Spring Island in Canada. As Far East as Race Rocks past Victoria Canada and as far south as Edmonds. These are great trips where you see all kinds of wildlife and you have a very knowledgeable naturalist on board.
Great Deals in 2016!
Adults save up to $30 off any tour by booking over 30 days in advance or by taking a Wednesday tour. There are discounts for AAA, AARP, seniors 65+, military, or students with an ID. Midweek deals can be found March-June and September-November. Click below for more information on how to save big in 2016!
Anacortes is known to have some of the best weather in the San Juan Isalnds. In the summer months, the temperature averages between 60 and 80 degrees fahrenheit. Even though the weather can feel warm on land, we always recommend bringing layers – sweatshirts and jackets – as it feels 10-20 degrees cooler on the water. Rain doesn’t have a negartive impact on our tours as our excursion vessels are set up to go out in the elements and have lots of indoor space and cover.