Whale Watching: San Juan Islands

Resident Whale

Last Updated on September 5, 2015

Having tried whale watching once before and the trip being rather unsuccessful, it still remained on the bucket list for another try. Debbie spotted whale watching tours with Island Mariner through the San Juan Islands. Taking off from the Port Of Bellingham,Washington the quick hop across the border was no problem at all and seemed like an easy alternative to a ferry or flight to Victoria. The marina is easy to find and located only 2 miles off the I-5 freeway.

Port Of Bellingham – Marina
The Whale Watching Boat

What caught Debbie’s attention while searching for a tour was the duration of the Island Mariner tours. Boarding begins at 9:30am, with departure at 10am and returning around 4:30pm; pretty much the full day on the boat!

Stunning scenery

It took a couple hours by boat to get to where a family of resident Orca’s were; indicated by the radio messages sent by other boats in the area. One of the males was absolutely huge. It was quite the sight to see each Orca pop out of the water to say hello.

Resident Orca Whale

We were told it was a bit of an odd day for viewing as the whales were spending more time under water than above the surface. The whales seemed to be hunting for fish as they must eat around 200 – 400 pounds of salmon per Orca each day.

Resident Orca Whale

Sitting on the top deck of the boat, visibility was great, and the blue sky with not a cloud in sight made all the surrounding scenery all that more stunning.

Resident Orca Whale

The Naturalist’s commentary was wonderful and entertaining, especially during the long boat ride to and from the Orcas. Each island we passed had a unique story and it was great to learn a little history along the way. The naturalist has amazing knowledge of the area and all of the wildlife we saw and spoke about geology, botany, fault lines, and the effects from the last Ice Age.

Stunning Scenery

The crew was very, very friendly and it was a great all-around experience. There was also plenty of free parking available, which is always a bonus.


Buy your lunch on board with their variety of options, or pack your own lunch and bring it along. What a great option to help make such a memorable trip more affordable too!

American Whale Watching

Island Mariner definitely sets the bar high for other Whale Watching companies. They sure know what they are doing, and do it extremely well.


Have you tried whale watching?