10 Tips for Whale Watching in Washington

10 Tips for Planning a Whale Watching Trip

Whale watching on the Salish Sea in and around the San Juan Islands is a total experience for the body and soul. The minute the vessel leaves the dock and you begin to soak in the sights, smell the salty air and feel the wind in your face, a calm will settle over you. Couple that with the anticipation of seeing whales and you will find yourself primed for a great adventure on the water.

We've been privileged to have found ourselves at this very amazing place many times since moving to Washington. To help with your planning a whale watching trip, here are our top 10 things to keep in mind.

1. Choosing a Whale Watching Tour Provider

Whale watch vessels come in all sizes. Do some research on the tours and the captains before making reservations. We suggest selecting a guide who is a knowledgeable naturalist so you'll have the chance to learn while on your whale quest. Bigger boats may work better for your kids as they will have more room to move around. Know your kids and their patience levels. It can be a long trip on the water, if they aren't happy.

Click here to browse our list of Washington State whale watching tours.

2. Watch the Weather

While it is always difficult to plan around weather, be mindful of the seasonal weather conditions and know it is always colder on the water, especially on a moving boat. Dress in light layers during the summer months and heavier layers for early spring, fall and winter.

3. Bring the Appropriate Whale Watching Accessories

Most whale watching boats do not provide accessories to look closely at the whales and stay protected from the elements. We definitely suggest bringing your own binoculars, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat.

10 Whale Watching Tips for Washington State

4. Capture the Memories with all Your Senses

Cameras of all kinds should be included. While it's great to preserve the memories with photos, a word of personal advice - don't become consumed with getting "the perfect shot." Enjoy seeing and hearing the whales as they interact in their natural environment. You'll never forget it!

5. Bring Snacks

Similar to whale watching accessories, not all whale watching guides offer snacks to tide over a grumbling stomach. Since the trip is usually 3-4 hrs, you might want to bring some water and a snack so you can fully enjoy your adventure.

6. Don't Forget About Other Wildlife

The Puget Sound, Salish Sea, and the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands are rich with all kinds of wildlife. Be on the lookout for seals, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, and many other species of birds, land mammals, and water fowl. Whales are not the only species known for capturing the hearts of their admirers!

Whale Watching in Washington State

7. Research, Research, Research

Check out www.orcanetwork.org and www.whaleresearch.com to learn about the resident whale pods and the transients before going. Both are wonderful sites full of great information.

8. Look for Opportunities to Whale Watch from Land

If you take a San Juan Island whale watching tour that allows you to spend some time on the island, be sure to check out Lime Kiln State Park. It offers amazing opportunities for whale watching from land as the orcas love to come close to shore to play in the kelp. Lime Kiln State Park

9. Budget Ahead

Whale tours can be expensive, so we definitely recommend budgeting ahead. Summer costs range around $89+tax for adults and $79+tax for children 12 and under. Costs for the other seasons are a bit less expensive.

10. It's Addictive!

Seeing whales will be the highlight of your trip and just to offer fair warning...it's addictive. You'll want to return again and again to see these amazing creatures once you've met them. And yes, they are recognizable and have personalities. In fact, Granny (J2) turned 100 years old in July 2011! http://whaleresearch.com/J2_Party.html

We hope you have the chance to meet her and the rest of the resident and transient pods on your San Juan Island whale watching tour.

Tips for Washington State Whale Watching

Post a Comment