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The Best Whale Watching Tours in the San Juans

Breaching humpback whale

We’re just entering peak whale season here in the San Juan Islands, which means it’s time to talk about which whale watching tours to take while you’re staying with us. Peak whale watching season starts in May and extends through September, and the waters off San Juan  Island offer some of the best whale watching in the state of Washington. There are a number of whale watching tours that leave from Friday Harbor, too, which is within walking distance to our luxurious properties.

The Tucker House Inn and the Harrison House Suites offer upscale pet and family-friendly lodging with individualized service and exquisite attention to detail.  We pride ourselves on our hospitality from the moment you check in to the moment you leave San Juan Island. If seeing orcas and other whales in their natural habitat has been on your bucket list, then now is the time to plan your getaway to the San Juan Islands.  Book your room at our Friday Harbor lodging today!

See orcas on these whale watching tours in the san juan islands

The Best Whale Watching Tours in the San Juans

Though whale watching tours in the San Juan Islands operate year-round, thanks to the resident orca pods that call these waters home, the best chance to see them is between the months of May – September. It’s during these months that transient orca pods and other whales visit the rich feeding grounds in the San Juans. Witnessing the majestic beauty of these animals in their wild habitats is the experience of a lifetime.

There are a lot of whale watching tours that operate out of Friday Harbor, and we partner with several of them. Boats for these whale watching tours range from small boats and zodiac-style adventures to more spacious and comfortable vessels. We’ve listed the tour operators and a brief description of their whale watching tours below, but our concierge would be more than happy to help you narrow down your choice to the right tour for you.

  • San Juan Safaris offers two different tours, the classic larger vessel tours, and the high-speed adventure boat tour. Both tours are 3-4 hours long and include a naturalist on board to help answer questions as you search for whales.
  • San Juan Outfitters offers whale watching tours out of Roche Harbor. They do a wonderful job of highlight not just the orcas of the San Juans, but the other wildlife as well, including Dalls Porpoise, Harbor Porpoise, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles, and more. Their tours also include a naturalist on board, and they boast a 90% success rate during peak whale watching season.
  • Western Prince Cruises offer shorter or long-range extended whale watching tours aboard their fast adventure boat, as well as private charters, which is perfect if you’re traveling with a group.
  • The whale watching tours operated by San Juan Excursions also begin in Friday Harbor, aboard a converted Navy search & rescue vessel that was built in 1941. The boat offers multiple wrap-around viewing decks for a complete experience as you venture out in the waters around the islands in search of whales and other wildlife. They also offer a guarantee of seeing orcas on your trip, or they’ll give you a second tour for free.
  • Maya’s Legacy Charters offers whale watching tours aboard their innovative boats and with a passionate crew of experts. Their tours are intimate and small, focusing on the natural ecosystem of the San Juan Islands and its inhabitants. They offer multiple whale watching tours to suit your needs, and always have an experienced naturalist on board.

You don’t have to go out on a boat to enjoy a bit of whale watching on San Juan Island, though.  Lime Kiln Point State Park, often nicknamed “whale watch park,” is a wonderful place to enjoy a bit of whale watching from the safety of land. The orcas’ feeding patterns in these waters often bring them really close to shore, allowing for excellent viewing from here.  To learn even more about these incredible animals, head to the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor. It’s just a short walk from our Inns.

The best San Juan Islands Whale Watching Tours

Choose the Best Lodging in Friday Harbor

After an adventure on the water, return to The Tucker House Inn or Harrison House Suites and get changed for dinner. Our restaurant, the Coho Restaurant, is just down the street from the Inns and offers guests an exquisite taste of the islands. We use high-quality local ingredients whenever possible, and make absolutely everything from scratch. Alongside dinner, choose a complementary wine from our extensive list, featuring wines culled from the great producers of Washington, Oregon, and California along with a fine selection of international wines.

After dinner, your luxurious home away from home awaits. Sink into comfort in one of the 7 guest rooms, 2 suites or 3 vacation cottages at Tucker House Inn, or one of the 6 suites at Harrison House. We offer both pet and family-friendly accommodations, too, all just steps away from downtown Friday Harbor.  Come celebrate the return of the whales with us this season.  Book your room at our Friday Harbor Lodging, and let us help you select from the finest whale watching tours in the San Juan Islands.

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