top of page
OIE-new-logo.png

Whale Watching Tours

Why choose Outer Island? We have highest success rate in the Salish Sea for whale sightings simply because of our new fleet of high speed boats combined with the most experienced Captains and Naturalist guides. We find whales on over 95% of our trips. That's how we can offer our whale guarantee with confidence. 

 

Our boats are some of the fastest whale watching boats in the region, equipped with indoor and outdoor viewing platforms, bathrooms, and plenty of room for everyone to get a great view.

Ocean

3-4 Hr Guaranteed Whales Tour

Guaranteed

Whales!

  • Available March to November

  • 99% Success on All Whales

  • 75% Chance of seeing Orcas

  • Prices starting at $119 per Adult

  • 3-4 hour Tour

  • We prioritize finding Orcas, but we might also encounter Humpbacks, Grays, or Minke whales.

  • See whales or come again for free!

Guaranteed

Whales!

Guaranteed

Whales!

Departure Locations:​

Closest to Seattle! No Ferry Required!

3-5 Hr ORCAS  ONLY Tour

@TrevorDerie

Guaranteed

ORCAS!!!

  • Available Memorial Day to Labor Day

  • 98% Success seeing Orcas

  • Prices starting at $199 per Adult

  • 3-5 hour Tour

  • For people especially passionate for Orcas

  • Longer trip lets us go the extra mile(s) to see Orcas wherever they are in the region

  • See Orcas or come again for free!

Closest to Seattle! No Ferry Required!

Departure Locations:​

Guaranteed

ORCAS!!!

Guaranteed

ORCAS!!!

Chances of Seeing
Each Kind of Whale

Orcas live in the San Juan's all year, and are the most frequently seen whales on all of our tours.

 

Humpback and Gray Whales migrate through the Salish Sea on their journey between colder feeding areas in the north in summer and warmer breeding areas in the south in winter.

Minke Whales live here year round.

Copy of T109As.JPG
PACIFIC WHALE
WATCH ASSOCIATION

We are proud members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association. This means we contribute to conservation and research on the whales and wildlife of our region. It also gains us special access to all the latest whale sightings reports from our community of whale watchers, researchers, and sometimes even sightings from the air and shore! It also helps us report our individual efforts from picking up ocean litter to sighting injured whales. All our reports reach the local researchers and conservation groups instantly!

 

As members we operate tours that are respectful of wildlife as well as fun and exciting! Our high-speed boats get us to the whales fast, then we can spend more time with whales as we slow down to enjoy viewing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.  

@TrevorDerie

24hous

Whale Watching Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a restroom on the boat?

    • Yes! All of our vessels are equipped with a restroom.

  • How long are your tours?

    • Classic tours take between 3 and 4 hours

    • Orca Only specialty tour is 3 to 5 hours. Our goal is to spend 45-60 minutes with Orcas. Which means if the whales are close we are able to run a 3 hour tour, but if we have to go far we may take a full two hours to cruise one way to where the whales are. It is best to plan for 5 hours just in case we need to run a longer tour. ​

  • When should we arrive?

    • Check in begins 30 minutes prior to departure for all of our regularly scheduled whale watching excursions.  We ask you to take a moment to review your departure location and predicted travel time the day prior to your trip. The only thing that is consistent about the traffic in this area is that it is inconsistent!  We cannot hold the boat for excessively late arrivals.  

    • The  location of our ORCA ONLY tour has a gate that will only be open 60 minutes before the start time of your tour.

  • What should we wear?​

    • Layers!  The weather is temperate year round in the San Juan Islands, but our boats go very fast which will feel at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler on the water.  Having a sweatshirt or jacket is a great option.  Sunglasses and sunscreen are also important with the reflection of light off the water even on cloudy days.​

  • What route do we take?​

    • There is no set agenda or specific route that we follow.  Working with the Pacific Whale Watching Association means that we have access to the most up to date information on where whales have been spotted throughout the San Juan Islands and Canadian Gulf Islands.  Paired with our extensive experience on the water of the Salish Sea and our knowledge of Orca pod movements we see whales on more than 95% of our trips.​  The whales in this area are not tagged and can swim more than 100 miles in a single day so we like having the flexibility to go anywhere!​

  • Do we need a passport if we go into Canadian waters?​

    • Nope! Our whales are "dual-citizens" and frequently swim between Canada and the US without paying any attention to our arbitrary lines. As commercial whale watching vessels we have the special privilege to come and go out of Canadian water as much as the whales do.  ​

  • What should we bring?​

    • Less is more!  The less you have to keep track of the easier it is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip.​ Binoculars and a camera are the only luxuries you might want to bring!​

  • Is there food served on board?​

    • We don't serve food onboard though we have light snacks available on some vessels during the summer months.  We don't recommend eating any large meals directly before or during a tour.  While our boats are very stable and seasickness is unlikely, the best way to avoid it is by focusing on the fun.  We recommend small snacks and water bottles instead.​

  • Is this tour appropriate for families with small children?​

    • For our classic tours and all Anacortes tours, absolutely!  We take passengers of all ages.  While some small children are too young to understand exactly what they are viewing they very much enjoy the experience of being on the boat.  All passengers, regardless of age, need their own ticket. 

    • Our Orca Only tour from Orcas Island is suitable for guests 12 years and older, as the ride can sometimes be long and cold!

  • Why do I need "an abundance of time" for the Orcas or Lopez Island locations?​

    • Our Orcas Island and Anacortes locations for our Classic Tours are only about 15 minutes apart for our high speed vessels, so it really doesn't matter which port you go from with our company. HOWEVER, the Washington State ferry takes over an hour between locations (not including the 30-45 minutes you must arrive prior to your ferry sailing in order for them to honor your reservation, if you can get a reservation at all!)  The ferries are also subject to frequent cancellations and delays due to not having enough staff to operate their vessels and other factors. If your ferry is delayed or cancelled your whale watching tickets are still subject to our cancellation policy.

  • Which departure time/location/date do we recommend?​

    • Whales don't wear watches so we don't think that there's a "best" time, date, or place to see them.  We have the fastest boats in the fleet to get to the whales wherever they are on any given day. It's always beautiful out on the water so choose the time and location that works best for you and leave the whales to us!

  • How close can we get to the whales?​

    • We follow all local, state, and federal regulations while viewing wildlife. For most whales, guidelines stipulate that we view from approximately 100 yards away (200 yards for orcas, 400 yards for J, K, and L Pods during whale watching season). While there’s no rule about how close the whales can come to us, please plan for viewing from a respecful distance.

  • ​Are whales bothered by the boats?

    • ​We work closely with researchers and enforcement to develop guidelines that do not impact local wildlife. We travel at slow speeds around whales and view from respectful distances. Washington has the most conservative whale watching regulations in the world and we're happy to comply to set a good example for all vessels.  By being a member of the PWWA, we are contributing our knowledge and observations to the shared research base and developing better regulations all the time.  We frequently observe whales feeding, mating, and even sleeping; which is an indicator that our presence does not change their natural behavior.

  • What's your cancellation policy?​

    • You can change your tour date, time, or location up to  72 hours in advance of your departure date.  If a cancellation is made more than 72 hours in advance there is a 25% cancellation fee but we can refund 75% of your purchase price.  We do not make any changes, updates, or cancellations​ within the 72 hours before departure. Once we are within 72 hours, if you cancel you will not be refunded unless we are able to resell your tickets. Call us ASAP if you want to try this option, but there is no guarantee we will be able to find an interested party to take your spots.

  • What happens if it is rainy or cloudy?​

    • We operate our tours in almost all weather conditions. The whales don't mind if the weather isn’t perfect, and neither do we.  As residents of the Pacific Northwest we expect to encounter some rain and our vessels offer great protection from the elements. The only conditions that would cause us to cancel a tour would be severe weather.​

  • Will seasickness be an issue?

    • Guests typically do not experience seasickness on our tours. Our vessels are very stable and the shelter of the many islands creates a calm environment on most days. If a person is very prone to motion sickness we suggest taking a non-drowsy Dramamine or Bonine the night before and the morning of the tour.

  • Are pets allowed on board?

    • No.  Pets of any kind, size, or weight are not allowed on our shared tours. While we can accommodate service animals we do not recommend our classic tours for those guests needing service animal support. ​If you would like to bring your pet you can always book a private charter.

No trip to Washington is complete without a whale watch and Outer Islands Excursions is a great choice. Capt Jim, and naturalists Delaney and Sophia were friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable hosts. We saw Orcas, a humpback, seals, sea lions, porpoises and eagles. The boat was a perfect size with both inside and outside viewing opportunities. Such a perfect way to experience the natural beauty of the San Juans.
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TripAdvisor
bottom of page