Monday, July 11, 2016

A Whale-Watching Tale

There are several companies here that will take people out to look for this area's native whale species and marine wildlife.  We researched the local ones and decided to take the Washington Ferry System over to San Juan Island to use San Juan Safaris Whale Watching Tour.  There's a couple of other tours there as well as more located on the other San Juan Islands.  We wanted a boat that's not too big (less crowds) a boat that's not too small (might need that boat head) and this company had one that seemed just right for us (intimate yet offers comfort).

We left out from Anacortes early, taking the Washington Ferry over to Friday Harbor, the largest town located on San Juan Island.  We were going to have clear skies and temperatures in the low 70's.

Smooth sailing ahead..

As we traveled through the San Juan Islands, we viewed many smaller islands that make up this populated island chain.  Some islands are nothing more than a rocky outcropping with growing evergreen trees.  Our ferry ride was about 90 minutes.

Soon, we're arriving into Friday Harbor.

Once we disembarked the named "Samish" Washington Ferry, we made a quick walk over to the docks to locate San Juan Safaris.

What a beautiful harbor with the backdrop of the float planes landing and taking off.

Right off, we find San Juan Safari and our boat we'll be taking on their whale watching tour.  Yes, I like this boat.  Not too small, not too big, just right.

We walked onto the Washington Ferry, so we do not have the Jeep for touring this day.  We wanted lunch so we walked up to the Spring Street Deli, bought some of the most delicious sub sandwiches and enjoyed an awesome lunch.  We sat in the shade with this incredible view, watching the ferries come and go, the dock activity and the float planes.

We had about 2 hours once we got off the ferry to get lunch, walk a little around Friday Harbor and locate the tour company.  We got all that in and around 1:30 we were boarding our our boat on our way to look for the Orca Killer Whales of the San Juan Islands.

Our boat ride out to where a pod of Orca Killer Whales have been spotted is smooth and scenic.  We pass by more islands and other tour boats headed to view the whales.

The whales have been spotted in Canadian waters, so it's going to be a longer ride out than usual. Our naturalist tells us we are traveling to the boat's distance limits.  Soon, we spot them along with other tour boats, NOAA law states whale watching boats must stay 200 yards from the surfacing pods.  I don't have a telescoping camera lens so these photos are zoomed in as far as my camera will allow and then cropped for a better close up.  No, not the greatest photos, as we were facing into the sunlight too, but it's proof we were there and we saw them.  I did spend most of my time just enjoying the unbelievable moments of watching the huge mammals break the water's surface, dive back down and resurface. 

Our naturalist tells us these are Transient Orca Killer Whales, known as the being carnivorous.  The male has the tallest dorsal fin, being almost 6 feet long.

We enjoyed about 45 minutes of this amazing display. 

Our tour is over too soon and we must turn and head back to Friday Harbor.  We've spent over an hour traveling to the pod, watching them for about an hour and then travel back.  On our return trip, we see more wonderful scenery of the San Juan Islands.

With our tour complete, we have about an hour before it's time to board the Washington Ferry System and return back to Anacortes.  Our ferry ride of about 90 minutes is smooth and comfortable.  The afternoon sunlight puts a different mood on the islands as we ferry by.

We arrive back to Anacortes a little tired, but exhilarated for this memorable experience in our full time RV travels.

More later.


  1. Beautiful! Thanks for the tour!

  2. Enjoyed the photos of the whales, looks cold out there, we are in 90 degree heat. I am so glad you are enjoying your trip. Will call you soon, lots to talk about. Give ron regards and a pat for little boy.

  3. It looks like you did a great job keeping warm while on the water. It is always best to dress in layers. Make the layer against your body one that will whisk away any sweat. Remember that it is always colder on the water than on land. The harbor is a lovely place after all.

    Justin @ San Juan Sail Charter