Tag Archives: San Juan Islands

Friday Harbor & Orca Whales

“It’s like a four hour boat ride.  You didn’t bring anything to do or read?”  I said with shock as I powered on my Kindle thirty minutes north of Seattle.

As soon as I spoke those words to my wife and mother it immediately dawned on me I hadn’t told them it was a four-hour boat ride.  I hadn’t told them it might be cold on the boat.  In fact, I hadn’t told them anything except when we needed to be at Top Pot Donuts and when we needed to be at the ferry that would take us north from Seattle to Friday Harbor.  They were clearly annoyed. The awe of the city skyline was gone and they were looking for something to do.  I apologized for my mistake and sheepishly turned back to my book.

The plan was to take the Victoria Clipper to Friday Harbor for shopping and whale watching.  My mom and her husband were in town for a week and this was the “big event” for their vacation.  I found great deals on the tickets through Living Social but then booked the trip too late, having to pay an additional forty dollars per ticket.

When we got to Friday Harbor we dropped off some of the passengers and went in search of wildlife.  Our captain received word from a whale watching network that there were orca whales off the west side of San Juan Island.  We headed in that direction before intersecting them on the north tip of the island.  Six orcas were moving close to the shore and we kept some distance before getting closer to another group of five.  The naturalist on our ship believed we were with two of the J, K, or L pods.

Our boat got as close as fifty yards to one whale for a couple minutes but mostly stayed around a hundred yards away.  The experience was amazing for my family.  We’d never seen orcas before and were completely blown away by their size, beauty, and the way they come out of the water. The photos below are one orca who breached twice.

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I was hooked by the experience and would love to go back on a sunny day with a bigger lens.  If any of you own a boat and would like to do some “whale photo hunting” let me know.


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