Image by Mike Doherty

Whale Watching Tours

We offer daily scheduled Whale Watching Tours from Skyline Marina on the mainland in Anacortes, WA and from Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.  

 

Our tours take three to four hours and we head out from May to September in search of Orcas, Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, and Gray Whales. We spot whales on over 95% of our trips.  The best sightings for Orca are in June, July, August and September. Humpbacks and Minkes are possible spring, summer, and fall and Grays are possible in the spring and fall.

We also frequently encounter sea lions, seals, porpoises, eagles, otters and sea birds. Our boats are some of the fastest whale watching boats, equipped with indoor and outdoor viewing platforms, bathrooms, and crewed by the most experienced captains and naturalists in the region.

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OIE2 1

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orca

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Our Locations

Our locations are strategically placed to offer the best whale viewing opportunities.  All of our captains and crew work together as members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association to access the best whale-sightings network in the world. If whales in the area, we know it  and our high-speed boat can get your there. Our elevated wheelhouses and upper decks allow us to find more whales, spot them sooner, and view them better than smaller boats.  The calm waters near the San Juan Islands are one of the best places in the world to view wild orcas. Humpback whales, minke whales, and gray whales also call the region home.

Our boats are comfortable fast vessels designed for whale watching in the Pacific Northwest.  With indoor cabins, outdoor viewing platforms, restrooms on board, and the most experienced captains and naturalists in the area expeditions with Outer Island are the best option for Whale Watching!

Whale Watching Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long are your tours?

    • Our tours take between 3 and 4 hours.  ​

  • When should we arrive?

    • Check in begins 30 minutes prior to departure for all of our regularly scheduled whale watching excursions.  We ask you to take a moment to review your departure location and predicted travel time  the day prior to your trip. The only thing that is consistent about the traffic in this area is that it is inconsistent!  We cannot hold the boat for excessively late arrivals.  

    • If you have any questions please call our office directly at 360-376-3711  for assistance. ​

  • What should we wear?​

    • Layers!  The weather is temperate year round in the San Juan Islands, but our boats go very fast which will feel at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler on the water.  Having a sweatshirt or jacket is a great option.  Sunglasses are also a great idea.​

  • What route do we take?​

    • There is no set agenda or specific route that we follow.  Working with the Pacific Whale Watching Association means that we have access to the most up to date information on where whales have been spotted.  Paired with our extensive experience on the water of the Salish Sea we see whales on more than 95% of our trips.​  The whales in this area are not tagged and can swim more than 100 miles in a single day so we like having the flexibility to go anywhere!​​

  • What should we bring?​

    • Less is more!  The less you have to keep track the easier it is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.  ​

  • Is there food served on board?​

    • We don't serve food onboard though we have light snacks available during the summer months.  We don't recommend eating any large meals directly before or during a tour.  While our boats are very stable and seasickness is unlikely the best way to avoid it is by focusing on the fun.  We recommend small snacks and water bottles instead.​

  • Is this tour appropriate for families with small children?​

    • Absolutely!  We take passengers of all ages.  While some small children are too young to understand exactly what they are viewing they very much enjoy the experience of being on the boat.  All passengers, regardless of age need their own ticket. ​

  • Which departure time/location/date do we recommend?​

    • Whales don't wear watches so we don't think that there's a "best" time or date to see them.  It's always beautiful out on the water so choose the date and time that works best for your party and leave the whales to us!​

  • What's your cancellation policy?​

    • We offer changes, updates, and cancellations on our tours as long as they are more than 72 hours in advance of your departure date.  If a cancellation is made more than 72 hours in advance we are happy to refund 75% of your purchase price.  We do not make any changes, updates, or cancellations​ within the 72 before departure. 

  • How close can we get to the whales?​

    • We follow all local, state, and federal regulations while viewing wildlife. For most whales, guidelines stipulate that we view from approximately 100 yards away (200 yards for orcas, 400 yards for J, K, and L Pods during whale watching season). While there’s no rule about how close the whales can come to us, please plan for viewing from a respecful distance.

  • ​Are whales bothered by the boats?

    • ​We work closely with researchers and enforcement to develop guidelines that do not impact local wildlife. We travel at slow speeds around whales and view from respectful distances. Washington has the most conservative whale watching regulations in the world and we're happy to comply with anything that helps the whales be healthier and safer.  By being a member of the PWWA, we are contributing our knowledge to the shared research base and developing better regulations all the time.  We frequently observe whales feeding, mating, and even sleeping; which is an indicator that our presence does not change their natural behavior.

  • What happens if it is rainy or cloudy?​

    • We operate our tours in almost all weather conditions. The whales don't mind if the weather isn’t perfect, and neither do we.  As residents of the Pacific Northwest we expect to encounter a rain and our vessels offer great protection from the weather. The only conditions that would cause us to cancel a tour wind be a severe weather.​

  • Will seasickness be an issue?

    • Guests typically do not experience seasickness on our tours. Our vessels are very stable and the shelter of the many islands creates a calm environment on most days. If a person is very prone to motion sickness we suggest taking a non-drowsy Dramamine or Bonine the night before and the morning of the tour.

  • Are pets allowed on board?

    • No.  Pets of any kind, size, or weight are not allowed on our tours. While we can accommodate service animals we do not recommend our tours for those guests needing service animal support. ​