The San Juan Islands make up an archipelago off the coast of Washington in the United States. They’re also close to Vancouver, British Columbia, making them a popular destination for many tourists. One of the best reasons to visit the San Juan Islands is for the whale-watching tours. Southern Resident Orcas, and Transient Orcas ply these waters throughout the year. Not only do you have the chance to see a variety of whales, but you may see some other wildlife like bald eagles, harbor porpoises, otters, seals, Stellar Sea Lions and more sea birds too.
Here at Emerald Island Sailing Charters, we offer a variety of wildlife viewing sailing experiences. You’ll find eco-friendly and luxury charters from one to 6 days that give you a new way to see the Pacific Northwest. Once you discover the best time to see orcas in the San Juan Islands, contact us to set up your trip.
Whale Watching In Late Spring
Many tourists and locals think that the best time to visit the San Juan Islands for whale watching is during the late spring. Summer starts near the end of June, but you might see a few orca whales during April and May.
As temperatures usually range from the 40s through the 60s, make sure you bring a jacket or wear layers to stay warm. You’ll stay comfy on your whale-watching adventure as you look for local wildlife.
Summer Whale-Watching Tours
The best time to visit the San Juan Islands for a whale-watching trip is summer. Many tour groups see whales during this season. Plan your trip for the middle of June through the end of August to see your favorite whales.
July and August are when the temperatures are the highest. During the peak of summer in the San Juan Islands, you’ll even see temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. With one of our summer whale-watching experiences, you also get the chance to enjoy the local climate. The San Juan Islands have a warm summer climate with less rainfall.
Visit The San Juan Islands In Early Fall
September first marks the first day of fall and a good time for whale watching around the San Juan Islands. Temperatures climb into the high 60s during the early days of the season and start dropping in October.
Fall is also the best time to visit the San Juan Islands for whale watching if you want to avoid the crowds. The cold weather causes some tourists to skip boat trips.
Where To Go For Whale Watching In The San Juan Islands?
Once you decide on the best time to see orcas in the San Juan Islands, think about where you want to go. While we cannot guarantee that you’ll see whales on our sailing trips, your odds of seeing these gorgeous animals are hig. You don’t even need to hop on a boat to see some of the local orca whales. Enjoy whale watching at Lime Kiln State park on San Juan Island.
Friday Harbor is home to the Whale Museum where you can learn more about these animals. Some of the other things you may want to check out on your trip to Friday Harbor include:
San Juan Island Brewing Company
Spring Street Landing Aquarium
- Downriggers Restaurant
Other Spots For Whale Watching
Whale Watch Park is another place where you can see whales once you pick the best time to visit the San Juan Islands. Locals gave this nickname to Lime Kiln Point State Park because whale sightings are so common here. The park is open to the public and has rocky cliffs that overlook the water.
Some tourists prefer Orcas Island, which is the largest of the San Juan Islands. You can hop on the ferry and get to the island fairly quickly. Orcas Island also has a shuttle that takes visitors from the ferry to local landmarks. If you think the best time to visit is in the summer, visit this island as the ferries run several times per day.
Tips For Your Whale-Watching Experience
Planning your trip involves more than just picking the best time to visit the San Juan Islands. We found some tips to make your trip a success:
Keep your eyes peeled for other types of wildlife. Many of our tours see bald eagles and sea lions on their trips to the San Juan Islands.
Opt for boat tours over shore sightings. While you may see an orca whale at one of the locations we mentioned, the animals moved further out to sea in recent years to find better food sources. Our trips help you get closer to the majestic creatures.
Bring the right supplies on your San Juan Islands tour. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself as well as a camera to capture the animals. Many visitors to the San Juan Islands also find it helpful to wear flat shoes and several layers of clothing.
The best time to visit the San Juan Islands to see humpback whales is from the late spring through the middle of fall. Most of the local whales have a mating season that coincides with these months.
Plan A Day Of Whale-Watching Fun
While the best time to see orcas in the San Juan Islands for whales is between May and October, whales are native to the Salish Sea. You have a good chance of seeing them and other wildlife no matter when you visit.
Reach out to Emerald Island Sailing Charters to schedule a sailing tour and share the sea with these giant animals in their natural habitat!