Whale & Wildlife Watching Tours

The San Juan Islands are in the heart of the Salish Sea – home to five different types of whales, making the archipelago one of the best places in the world to see whales in the wild. Well-known for orcas, there are two ecotypes – the fish-eating Southern Resident pods and mammal-eating Bigg’s killer whales. The Bigg's killer whales are the most common orcas found on tours. Other whales include humpbacks, minkes, and grays. 

Though it’s possible to see whales here year-round, the best months are April through October, especially for orcas. Humpbacks are most commonly seen in August through October as they work their way south from Alaska towards more tropical climes. 

Whale sightings are never guaranteed, but the greatest potential for spotting them is with a professional whale and wildlife tour. If by chance you don't see whales on a tour, most operators offer a free or discounted ticket to go again. An added benefit to a tour is that onboard naturalists provide identification, education, and stewardship suggestions for passengers. Each company also contributes to orca and salmon recovery efforts in the Islands and the greater Salish Sea ecosystem. Due to current laws and other voluntary guidelines, this is the most respectful and responsible whale-watching on Earth. The shorter your stay in the Islands, the more important it is to plan ahead. Booking activities in advance will make your trip run smoothly and you'll be more likely to get your first picks!

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Let us acknowledge that we reside on the ancestral lands and waters of the Coast Salish people who have called this place home since time immemorial and let us honor inherent, aboriginal, and treaty rights that have been passed down from generation to generation. 

Contact Us:
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
1-888-468-3701 | (360) 378-9551
P.O. Box 1330, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250
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