Beyond breathtaking views and an imitable culture, the Pacific Northwest is worth visiting for its diverse wildlife alone. And the Puget Sound—an inlet of the Pacific Ocean—boasts a number of creatures like sea lions, otters and, of course, whales. For tourists and first-time visitors to the area, whale-watching tours offer the perfect opportunity to witness the untouched and scenic sides of Washington state up-close. Here are five of the best whale watching tours.
Puget Sound Express
The Puget Sound Express is a family-run business, with nearly 35 years of experience operating whale watching tours across the greater Pacific Northwest. Port Townsend has been called “the American Serengeti,” because of its high concentration of whales and dolphins—including the totem species, the orca. This company offers unparalleled service and boasts the team insights to prove it. For more information, visit www.pugetsoundexpress.com.
Port Angeles Whale Watching Tours
Port Angeles is a pristine whale-watching destination that’s located just outside of Olympic National Park. The surrounding waters have become one of the leading destinations for viewing humpback whales in North America, in particular. From Port Angeles, the whale-watching tours can head west into the Strait of Juan de Fuca or east toward the San Juan Islands. For more information, visit www.pawhales.com.
Seattle Orca Whale Watching Tours
The Seattle Orca Whale Watching Tour is considered to be one of the best day tours in Seattle. The favorite package among tourists is the Whale Plane Package, which includes round-trip air on a Kenmore Air seaplane from downtown Lake Union, Seattle to Friday Harbor for a San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tour by boat. Onboard, guests will be joined by marine naturalists who can answer questions about orcas, humpbacks, eagles, sea lions, porpoise and more. For more information, visit www.seattleorcawhalewatching.com.
San Juan Safaris
For over 20 years, San Juan Safaris has offered the highest in quality whale-watching tours. The safaris are unique in that they focus on not only the guest experience, but they also place an emphasis on respectful wildlife viewing—teaching visitors to appreciate Washington’s natural beauty, even if only at a distance. Onboard the ship, guests will experience orcas, seals, sea lions, eagles and more all from the comfort of their safe, fast and US Coast Guard-approved vessels. For more information, visit www.sanjuansafaris.com.
Blackfish Tours by Outer Island Expeditions
Outer Island Excursions offers whale-watching tours and fishing adventures as private charters from Anacortes on the Blackfish fleet—regarded as the fastest tour vessel in the region. The afternoon expedition tours take guests out into the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands to search for orca, humpback, gray and minke whales. Additionally, participants can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including porpoises, seals, sea birds and more. For more information, visit www.outerislandx.com.