Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands has been on my to-do list since I moved to Washington. So when Jordan came to visit last weekend, I finally had the chance. The 2.5 hour drive North from Tacoma to Bellingham went by relatively quickly, probably because the area is so beautiful. I remember the scenery well from our trip to Mt. Vernon for the Tulip Festival earlier this year.

Jordan and I were out on the water with our fellow tourists all day.  The day started out grey and cloudy, but the sun broke through and shone down brightly. It was still cold. After a few hours, we were both beating ourselves up for being underdressed and neglecting to bring sunscreen. Outside of a flu setting, I had no idea it was possible to be freezing cold and hot at the same time. The wind cut through us like a knife while the hot sun bared down on our shoulders and faces. It was a strange dichotomy, truly. And talk about gnarly, the ocean wind did quite a number on my hair.

Otherwise, it was a beautifully scenic and informative tour. I had no idea here were so many Islands that compromised the San Juans!

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

It took several hours to arrive at the waters surrounding Henry Island, where both migrating, and native Orca pods fed on salmon. Relief swept the boat when the tour guide announced the first dorsal fin sighting toward the bay. We all crowded around the side of the boat snapping photos or scoping out the sights through binoculars. It was a spectacle.

Now, when my husband and I went to Discovery Kingdom on our California Sojourn a month ago, the Orca show was spirited. The star of the show caught some serious air, comparable to the dolphins we saw later that day. Well, these Orcas were in hunting mode, not performance mode. They tended to skim the surface of the water, only bobbing up once or twice to show us more than their face and dorsal fin.

Still, they did not disappoint.

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Our tour of the Islands was not limited to Whale Watching. I counted four bald eagle sightings, one even plucked a fish right from the water! I failed to get any lasting images on my Canon, the eagles are a bit too quick and small for a girl lacking sea legs. Some of that water was mighty choppy.

We also spotted some wild rams on an island just south of Canadian waters. It was exciting! And for the first time I saw how fresh water mixes with ocean water. I had no idea their densities were so disparate.

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

Whale Watching - San Juan Islands

If ever you find yourself with the opportunity to Whale Watch in the San Juan islands, I highly recommend it. Hopefully you’ll miss the rain like we did!

And many thanks to Elizabeth for recommending Jalapeños in Bellingham! Dinner there was delicious.


6 thoughts on “Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands

  1. Absolutely stunning. There’s a biking tour on the San Juan Islands I’ve been longing to go on. You live in such a beautiful place 🙂

    1. I absolutely love it out here. We’re waiting on a few bike parts to arrive in the mail, maybe when we get those on our road bikes, we can take the tour you’re talking about!

  2. This is incredible! There’s something about seeing these pictures of the whales in their natural habitat that is a million times more awesome than seeing them at a theme park.

  3. I’ve done this before too! Wasn’t it incredible?! The photos you snapped are amazing (as always). Mark that off the bucket list!

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