We tend to think that whale watching requires an overnight trip from Seattle to the San Juan Islands, but nothing could be further than the truth. Puget Sound waters right here in the Seattle Metro area welcome a recurring group of gentle gray giants who migrate twice a year between Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and the Gulf of Alaska. A fleet of local boat captains are happy to get you up close for friendly three-hour encounters as the gray whales frolic, feed, blow and breech just a few miles offshore.
Know Your Mammal-Migrators
With a 14,000-mile Pacific journey in store, you’d think our 40-ton, 50-foot-long mammal friends just beeline toward the end goal. But they actually hang out with us from approximately March through May, feeding on translucent “ghost shrimp” that live in regional mud flats such as ones around Whidbey Island.
For almost 30 years now, the same eight to 10 gray whales have split off from thousands of migrators to cruise the Puget Sound waterways, earning the nickname “Gray Sounders.” They all have names and identifiable markings from previous journeys, including a 2017 Orca attack near Hat Island off the coast of Everett.
Pacific Whale Watch Association
More than 30 local marine businesses nurture and care for our Sounders, and the Pacific Whale Watch Association helps you find the best captains for your afternoon excursion. You’ll have peace knowing they all support ecotourism and responsible wildlife tourism. Some of the easiest hop-on boat trips depart from ports within 20 to 30 minutes of downtown Seattle.
Everett and Edmonds
If you want to go big, Island Adventures operates a fleet of whale-watching boats, including the Island Explorer 3 vessel departing from the Port of Everett Marina. The three-hour narrated tour cruises around Whidbey Island, Hat Island, Everett and Tulalip, with an onboard café dishing out Ivar’s clam chowder and Nathan’s hotdogs.
For a more intimate whale-watching experience, head to the Port of Edmonds marina and hop aboard the family-owned Annie A vessel with the Jablinske family of All Seasons Charters. Captain Mike knows our whales by heart and doles out plenty of tall-tales and fishy legends.
Feel like taking your chance at land sightings? Head over to Seawall Park on Whidbey Island, and listen for a clanging brass bell. It’s a local tradition to ring the bell whenever a Sounder is spotted offshore. Art Galleries near the park are chockful of whale paintings and sketches, and you can pick up whale trinkets, gifts and postcards around the quaint Langley waterfront.
Seattle embraces a water-centric lifestyle in a big way. You’re never far from nature when making your home in one of our Seattle apartments, so call today for availability and move-in specials.