Whale & Wildlife Tours
Enjoy an informative, narrated cruise through the San Juan Islands in search of Orcas (Killer Whales), Humpback Whales and Minke Whales. The thrill of seeing one of these majestic creatures will be an experience you will never forget.
Now enjoy a private 2 hour, limited range whale watching tour! Whale sightings on 2 hour trips are 50/50. They are the perfect short cruise for families with small children or groups with a busy schedule.
If you don't see a whale on a public tour between Memorial Day & Labor day you will receive a free return ticket! This ticket is not a standby pass. Guests can use it to make a new reservation anytime for up to 1 year. Guests who do not see a whale outside of our promotional time are welcome to come again for free as long as we have space. Free trip promotional is not valid for private charter groups.
While on Orcas Island choose from two great departure locations. Each Location offers a convenient departure point with bathroom facilities, parking and restaurants or cafe's.
Deer Harbor Marina - 15 minutes or less from Eastsound, Turtleback, Victorian Valley, West Beach, North Beach, Orcas Landing and more!
Rosario Resort - 15 minutes or less from Eastsound, North Beach, Doe Bay Resort, Moran State Park, Liberhaven and more!
Deer Harbor Marina: 10:00AM & 2:00PM (12:30 Offseason)
Rosario Resort: 11:00AM & 3:00PM (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Seniors (60+) - $99
Adults (Ages 14 & Up) - $109
Youth (Ages 14-20) - $85
Children (Ages 3 - 13) - $69
Infant (Ages 2 and under) Free!
2 Hour Whale & Wildlife (Private Charter)
Up to 16 guests - $725 + taxes and fees
Up to 26 guests - $950 + taxes and fees
3-4 Hour Whale & Wildlife (Private Charter)
PELAGIC Up to 16 guests - $1,350 + taxes and fees
SQUITO Up to 26 guests - $2,250 + taxes and fees
25 Guests or more please call for pricing.
Wildlife You May See on Your Tour:
Enjoy a public whale & wildlife tour today! Choose a departure location (Deer Harbor Marina or Rosario Resort) and a departure time. Deer Harbor Marina departures are YEAR ROUND. Rosario Resort departures are Memorial Day - Labor Day. Scroll down for tour details and basic information. Call (360)376-5989 with questions or inquiries!
Want the boat to yourself? Book a private charter today! Choose from a 2 hour limited range whale watch, the standard 3-4 hour whale watch, day sailing (non-whale watching), sunset cruise & more! Call for Lighthouse Tours, Birdwatching Tours, or other Charter options! Call (360)376-5989 with questions or inquiries!
Public whale & wildlife tours are generally 3-4 hours. Guests can feel free to bring snacks, lunch and non-alcoholic drinks onboard. Each vessel has blankets, binoculars, a restroom and a highly educated marine naturalist onboard. For groups traveling with small children, we generally recommend booking a 2 hour (limited range) whale watching tour. If you have mobility issues please give us a call before making a reservation. Temperatures while cruise close to the water are generally 10-15 degrees cooler then on land. Please dress in layers with close toed shoes and long pants.
Basic Whale Sightings & information
The prime season for whale watching around Orcas Island and the San Juan Island's archipelago is June - September. Most of the migratory whale species (humpback, minke & gray whales) return to our sheltered waters to feed around April- May. Orca whales frequent our waters and are a non-migratory species of dolphin (thats right, orca are not really whales!). Two genetically distinct and seemingly similar types (eco-types) of orca live, hunt and socialize around our region YEAR ROUND. However, having a reliable "whale sightings" and calm weather during our offseason (November through March) can be hit and miss.
All companies engaged in "Whale Watching" in the region work a sightings collection network together. We communicate whale sightings, whale directions, group composition, unique whale identification and much more. This data is collected in real time and accessible only to Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) member companies. In addition, we collectively hold drivers meetings and implement best practice policies yearly. This is what makes whale watching in the Pacific Northwest the best in the world!
Orca Whale Information
We are lucky enough to have two distinct eco-types of Orca Whales that frequent our region - Biggs Orca Whales and Southern Resident Orca whales. Biggs orca whales aka mammal eating orca whale make up roughly 98% of our orca whale sightings while Southern Resident Orca Whales (SRKWs) aka fish eating orca whale make up roughly 2% of our orca whale sightings.
About 10 years ago we watched SRKWs almost exclusively and rarely had viewings of Biggs orca. Since then the population of Biggs orca has been booming! With new calfs each year and a steady food supply, it looks like the Biggs have moved in. In contrast our Souther Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs) are struggling to find food and maintain healthy population. Lack of prey, vessel noise, pollution are some of the suspected impacts that are aiding the continued population decline.
Recently in 2021 the Washington State Legislator passed laws banning the viewing of SRKWs from vessels between the months of September-May. Permitted Vessels (like Deer Harbor Charters) may view SRKWS between June-August as long as they stay at least 400 yards away, although it is unlikely that we will watch them given the chance due to our company policies.
In 2015 we had nearly a perfect prime season (June-September). Since then we continue to have record setting whale sightings each year. This rise in sightings is due to orca (biggs), humpback, minke, grey and fin whale populations that have been on the rise. In contrast, since 2015 we have had less then 2% of our orca whale sightings made up by the SRKW population. In 2015 we saw the SRKWS less then 3 times and in 2018, 2019 we had zero encounters. Times are tough for the SRKW and we hope for a speedy population recovery.
Thanks for reading about our whales. Call (360)376-5989 for whale sightings or if you have questions or comments.