Anacortes Whale Watching & Wildlife Tour in Anacortes, WA

712 Seafarer's WayAnacortes, WA 98221
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Watch orcas in the wild near the San Juan Islands. This Washington whale-watching tour departs from Anacortes, located 90 miles from downtown Seattle. It is one of the best opportunities to see wild orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, and gray whales that frequent the area throughout the year. The tour lasts about 4 to 5 hours and covers 60 miles through the calm waters of the Salish Sea aboard a state-of-the-art catamaran with 3 viewing decks and indoor heated seating. Learn about local wildlife from onboard naturalists, and if conditions are right, even listen to whale conversations via underwater microphones (hydrophones).

up to 4.5 hrs 1 or more people

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Anacortes Travel Experts
  • Recommended for all ages.
  • Departs from Anacortes, 90 miles north of downtown Seattle, no ferry required.
  • Covers 60 miles through the calm Salish Sea waters in the San Juan Islands, home to a rich variety of marine life and the world's best opportunity to see wild orcas.
  • High-speed catamaran featuring 3 viewing decks and indoor heated seating.
  • Onboard hydrophones to listen to whale conversations when conditions are right.
  • Dress in layers as it feels 10-20 degrees cooler on the water.
  • Onboard cashless cafe with food and drink options available for purchase onboard (credit/debit cards only).
  • A few stairs are required for boarding. Cannot accommodate electric wheelchairs.


from Anacortes Whale Watching & Wildlife Tour
Island Adventures first began offering Anacortes whale watching tours back in 1996 and boasts more than 100 years of combined experience in the islands. Just a 90-mile drive from downtown Seattle, Anacortes is a convenient starting point for your Anacortes whale watching and wildlife adventure - no ferry required! 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. Soak in the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest aboard the finest whale watching vessel on the entire west coast, the Island Explorer 5.

The Salish Sea is home to one of the richest varieties of marine life on the planet. There's no better place to view the booming population of Bigg's, or mammal-eating killer whales. In addition to orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, and gray whales are also frequently seen throughout the year. Experienced naturalist guides will also highlight harbor seals, sea lions, Dall’s and harbor porpoise, bald eagles and many types of sea birds. The average tour covers 60 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Island Adventures' skilled captains and crew have built a rapport with local researchers, sharing information to aid in studying and protecting all whales in the area. Over the years, they've come to recognize each whale's unique markings and understand their individual personalities. If the conditions are just right, you can even listen to their conversations by using underwater microphones (hydrophones).

The Vessel features:
  • Outside rail viewing space on one side of the boat for all guests
  • Indoor heated seating for all passengers
  • Three viewing decks for the best possible vantage point over the water
  • Best galley menu of any tour vessel in the area – fresh and changing with the seasons
  • High-speed catamaran with speeds capable of 25+ knots, giving us one of the largest ranges in the industry
  • AED onboard with highly trained/qualified staff and crew

Important Note:
Infants aged 0-1 require a ticket that must be purchased at the venue.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Anacortes Whale Watching & Wildlife Tour

When is the best time of year to go whale watching?

It depends on what you want to see! You can see whales at any time of year, and the vessels move to different locations throughout the year to optimize our chances. The spring tours from Everett are best for gray whales, summer and fall are historically best for humpbacks, orcas, and minkes, and the winter, while not necessarily peak season, still offers plenty of opportunity for seeing a variety of different whales.

What should I wear?

It is encouraged to dress in layers, even in summer. The air temperature often feels 10-20 degrees cooler than the water. Island Explorer vessels have large heated cabins and wind-blocked outdoor seating, but the more comfortable you are, the more time you'll spend viewing wildlife!

Where does this tour depart from?

This tour departs from Anacortes, Washington, about 90 miles north of Seattle. Check-in at Cap Sante Marina, A-Dock: 712 Seafarer's Way, Anacortes, WA 98221.

Is the tour appropriate for children?

Yes, this is a family-friendly tour.

Is the tour wheelchair/stroller accessible?

A small folding stroller that can be stowed easily is allowed. Please be mindful not to block walkways or doorways for safety reasons. Many of our guests with young children find it most convenient to wear their infants or use a car seat carrier. The Tour can accommodate almost any situation, however, there are a few limitations. At this time, the tour can not accommodate electric wheelchairs, and a few stairs are required to board the vessel. All of the vessels have restrooms, indoor and outdoor viewing, and cafe service on the main floor, but due to a few Coast Guard requirements, the vessels can not be fully ADA-compliant. Please contact the Island Adventures office with specific questions.

Can I bring my camera?

Yes, lots of photo opportunities.

How long is the tour?

Tour duration is approximately 4 to 5 hours.

Can I bring my own food/beverages?

The vessels have great food and drink options available for purchase, but you are permitted to bring your own food and drink items as well. Because they sell beer and wine on our vessels, however, Washington state does not permit any outside alcohol aboard.

Can I bring my pet?

Only registered service animals are welcomed on the tours. Please notify the office if you'll be bringing a service animal with you on your tour.