Seattle Whale Watching

Seattle Whale Watching. Three excellent options for Puget Sound whale watching or sea life viewing while in the Seattle Washington area.

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The best time of year for whale watching in Seattle and the Puget Sound is springtime. This is when grey whales come in close to Everett and Edmonds (both towns are within the greater Seattle area), to feed on ghost shrimp during March, April and May. 

Humpback whales migrate from Mexico to Alaska and back again; best viewing for humpbacks is from cruises that originate in Port Angeles or Victoria BC.

The local resident orca whales live in and around the San Juan Islands, which is the prime viewing area for orcas. They also venture into the Puget Sound. If orca whales grip your imagination above all other sea life, think about catching a tour that originates from Port Townsend, from the San Juans, or from Victoria BC. However: with a fast boat such as the Chilcat Express (see Puget Sound Express below), it is becoming easier to get to the orcas through a Seattle whale watching tour.

If you'd like to do some Seattle whale watching, check out the three companies listed here, and then consider your priorities. Transit time from Seattle must be figured into your voyage just to get to where the whales of your choice will be, on top of the average 2-3 hours of actual whale watching. That can make for a long 8-9 hour day which may be difficult for families.

If you've made fortunate plans to continue your travels, say, to Victoria, then you're in luck! One of the following Seattle whale watching companies below will take you from point A to point B, stopping along the way for a couple hours of whale encounters.

Overnight Seattle-to-San-Juan-Islands Whale Watching Excursion

If you have a couple of days, Clipper Vacations offers overnight trips with overnight lodging included. They'll take you to the prime areas around Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, or Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, where you can spend the night and head back the next day. You'll have twice the opportunity to watch perhaps several species of whales!

Rent a Car and Head to the San Juans

Consider booking directly with a whale watching company in the San Juan Islands.

Make a beeline straight north on the I-5 freeway from Seattle to Anacortes (over the bridge), or catch a ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island, take the scenic drive north to Anacortes and catch a tour from there. Or, take another ferry to one of the San Juan Islands, for example, to Friday Harbor.

Once in the San Juans, you're in prime whale watching territory with many options for whale sightings. (Click here for identifying photos of PNW resident orcas!)

Here are three Seattle Whale Watching
options to check out:

Clipper Vacations

Clipper Vacations
Seattle Orca Whale Watching
Seattle Grey Whale Watching
2701 Alaskan Way, Pier 69, Seattle, WA 98121

Tripadvisor Reviews of Victoria Clipper - 4* 

Fare: $99-$313/per adult, depending on the tour and lodging

Clipper Vacations is primarily a passenger-only ferry service between Seattle, Friday Harbor and Victoria, BC. They do offer packages that include a 2-3 hour whale watching/sea life excursion along the route, with the option to book overnight lodging at various ports.

Their Friday Harbor location (link coming) is right in the heart of whale watch country so there will be less transit time to see the whales as opposed to leaving from Seattle.

If you're planning to travel from Seattle to San Juan Island or Victoria anyway, this provides a chance to add in a bit of whale watching along the way. 

If you don't have the time or funds to travel to locations further north, such as the San Juan Islands or Bellingham, but have time for an extra day in Seattle, this is a good whale-watching option for you.

Island Adventures

Island Adventures
1726 W. Marine View Dr., Everett, WA 98201
(800) 465-4604; (360) 293-2428

Tripadvisor Reviews of Island Adventures - 5* and 2012-2015 Certificates of Excellence

Fare: Adults: $69; children ages 3 - 12: $49; children age 2 and under are free; Military discounts. Check their website for super deals.

Since 1992, Shane and Jennifer Aggergaard have been offering whale watching tours from locations in Everett, Port Angeles and Anacortes. Tours depart from Everett in March - May, for grey whales; April or May - November for humpbacks, orcas and minkes. These are the best times, though any whale can be seen throughout most of the year.

The Island Adventure vessels are up to date and fast with naturalists onboard and are equipped with restrooms, heated cabin, snack bar, and walk around viewing with upper decks.

Their Everett location, only 30 minutes north of Seattle, is conveniently close, especially for viewing grey whales during March - May.

Puget Sound Express

Puget Sound Express

Operates out of Edmonds WA and Port Townsend WA:

  • 500 Admiral Way, Edmonds, WA 98020
  • 227 Jackson St., Port Townsend, WA 98368

Phone: 360-385-5288

Tripadvisor Reviews of Puget Sound Express Whale Watching - 4.5*
Certificate of Excellence

Fares: $65 for a child to $135 for an adult, depending on the tour; infants are free. Some tours require a minimum of 15 passengers.  

This is a family owned, three generation company operating since 1985. Pete and Sherri Hanke offer a variety of whale and wildlife watching tours between Port Townsend, Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, and Edmonds/Seattle, departing from two locations: Port Townsend and Edmonds/Seattle (Edmonds is located about 30 minutes north of Seattle). They also partner with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center and the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society hosting special bird watching tours.

They have three fast and comfortable boats with experienced and knowledgable crews. Each one is equipped with onboard amenities like snack bars, restrooms and great viewing areas.

Transit time on the Chilcat from Edmonds to whale-viewing in the San Juan Islands is only an hour.

How about a Puget Sound Express 3-Day Tour?

Puget Sound Express also offers 3-day tours which include 2 nights at Roche Harbor Resort, and cruising around the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands. The fare for this whale watching extravaganza is $850/double ($925/single). 

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