San Juan Island is famous for its varied wildlife, and the celebrities of this natural world are the Orca whales that cruise the surrounding waters from mid-April to early October.
As a visitor to the island, you will have access to a strong culture of whale appreciation and education. Before heading out to try some whale watching, why not take the ten minute walk from Earthbox Inn & Spa to the renowned Whale Museum in down town Friday Harbor. Enjoy a comprehensive and interactive display about local marine life and the three endangered Orca pods that call the San Juans home.
There are many options for you to experience the Orcas in their natural habitat. The Earthbox staff is on hand to help you plan your whale-watching excursion and make your reservations at no charge. All the companies we recommend follow the local, state, and federal whale viewing laws and guidelines. Many of the companies will also have an on-board naturalist to make your trip more fun and informative. After all, it is not just the whales you will see out on the water; get ready to spot a huge variety of sea birds, seals, otters, and other species of whales.
If boats are not your thing, don't worry, you can still experience the whales. San Juan Island is the perfect place to indulge in the innovative 'land based' whale watching. Increasingly popular, land-based whale watching is exactly what it sounds like, and can be just as rewarding as getting out on the water. Lime Kiln State Park, aka Whale-Watch Park, is the nation's only park set aside for the pursuit, indeed San Juan's west side is spotted with special places to pull over and watch the whales go by. Try stopping at the Westside Scenic Preserve, San Juan County Park or South Beach.
San Juan Safaris offers professional trips with great attention to detail. A marine biologist is always on board to answer all of your wildlife questions. Their new, fast, heated 55-foot boat offers a walk-around deck, windowed cabin, bow seating and a large bathroom. The deck sits 5 feet above the water and allows for great viewing. All of their trips depart conveniently from Friday Harbor.
San Juan Excursions based in Friday Harbor, San Juan Excursions has the island's largest whale watch boat, the 64 foot Odyssey.
Western Prince Whale & Wildlife Tours has provided quality San Juan Island tours since 1986. The 46′ Western Prince II departs from Friday Harbor and is large enough for safety and comfort, yet small enough for a more interactive experience.
San Juan Outfitters specializes in providing high quality whale watch, kayak, and adventure tours for groups small and large, families, and independent travelers and departs from scenic Roche Harbor.
Maya's Legacy Whale Watching offers a premier experience with never more than 15 passengers per tour. Brand-new, custom designed boats feature theater style seating and a heated cabin for comfort in all conditions. There is excellent viewing from the outdoor bow and stern viewing decks, as well as unparalleled indoor visibility through the large cabin windows. You are never seat-bound, and can move freely between the cabin and all viewing areas. There's plenty of elbow room and no competition for prime viewing space. Tours and private charters available year-round.
San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours enjoy a 6-passenger, personalized whale & wildlife adventure of a lifetime out of Friday Harbor aboard the 30' "Natsilane," named after an orca whale legend. Enjoy a comfortable heated cabin, with indoor and outdoor seating, restroom and snacks.
San Juan Safaris' Kestrel is San Juan Island’s fastest zodiac vessel—perfect for anyone looking for a high-speed adventure! Kestrel has a wraparound observation deck and restroom. Includes high-quality exposure suits! 35 feet long, 24 or fewer passengers.
Western Prince Whale & Wildlife Tours' bright, orange Zodiac seats 15. You get suited up in wind-and-weather-tight gear and go on a fast, fun, exhilarating ride, lasting about 2 1/2 hours.