The state of Washington is a great place to go on whale-watching tours. The waters off the coast of Washington are home to some fantastic wildlife, and one of the most common species is orcas or killer whales. Whales are prevalent in these waters during the summer months (June through September), but other species, like humpback whales and gray whales, also visit.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about when you can see whales in Seattle and other cities around Washington state, what time of day is best for seeing them, what month has the highest probability of seeing them, plus where exactly all this happens!
When can you see whales in Washington state?
If you’re considering going whale watching in Washington state, you’re likely wondering when the best time to see whales is. The whale migration occurs each year at different times depending on the species of whale and their destination. The most important thing to remember is that Seattle and other areas along Puget Sound have various types of whales that migrate through during the same period, so they can all be seen at any given time during that season. A general timeline for when certain species are migrating through Puget Sound would be:
- Gray Whales (January-March): These whales travel north from Mexico to Alaska and are usually spotted between January and March.
- Humpback Whales (March-May): These whales travel south from Alaska to Mexico and are usually spotted between March and May.
- Killer Whales (June-August): These marine predators also migrate along with other species but do not stay long enough in our area for us to provide tours based on their presence!
What month is best for whale watching in Seattle?
At the beginning of the year, you’re likely to see humpback whales as they travel north. In March and April, you’ll see them as they head south again.
Whales return to Puget Sound in May and June, when summer begins. The migration peaks in July and then continues into August or early September before tailing off toward fall.
Where is the best whale watching in Washington?
The San Juan Islands are the best place for whale watching. This group of islands off the coast of Washington is home to a wide variety of whales, including orcas (killer whales), humpbacks, gray whales, and even sperm whales.
Some species can be seen year-round, while others only visit during certain seasons or months. For instance, orcas can be spotted annually, but visitors rarely see them during May or December due to pre-migration requirements.
What time of day are whales the most active?
You can find whales throughout the day, but they are most active during the morning and evening. The next time you’re whale watching, spend some time observing where the whales are around your boat. If they’re far away from your boat and showing no movement, then they’re probably asleep or resting. On the other hand, if they’re nearby (or even closer) and you see fins or spouts shooting up out of the water, those particular animals are probably very active.
Whales tend to be least active during midday hours when sunlight is at its peak.
How likely are you to see a whale while whale watching?
The short answer is that you may see a whale during whale watching. If your company advertises they guarantee whales, they’re probably lying. The truth is that there’s no way to know precisely what you’ll see out on the water, but I will say that your odds are pretty good if you head out with one of the companies listed above (or any other reputable company).
Whales are wild animals and don’t always cooperate with our plans for them. If a whale doesn’t want to be seen, it won’t be seen (and vice versa). Some people love this aspect of whale watching—the idea that nature has its agenda, and we can sit back and enjoy being along for the ride. But if this upsets or frustrates you, maybe get into birdwatching instead!
Whale watching in Seattle.
Seattle is the best city in Washington for whale watching. The Puget Sound area is home to many whales, including orcas, humpbacks, grays, and Dall’s porpoises (oh my!). You can see these majestic creatures from late spring through early fall at any of these places:
- The Montlake Cut Boathouse is a great place to see orcas from the land because they swim right up next to shore while following the boat traffic in front of it. You can also go on guided tours with Orca Spirit Adventures here!
- Lake Union: Watch out for floating boats and kayaks as you keep your eyes peeled for orcas around Lake Union’s busy waters. Orcas are often seen feeding on salmon here; there have even been reports that some have been known to jump out of the water after a catch!
- Discovery Park: Take a walk along Alki Beach or rent a bike at Golden Gardens Park to get up close and personal with whales who frequent this part of Seattle’s waterfront during their migration season.
Can you see whales from the Seattle ferry?
Yes, you can see whales on the Seattle ferry. The best time to look for them is in the morning when the sun is illuminating their backs and fins. While many species of whale pass through Puget Sound each year, sightings are most common during gray whale migration seasons (December-March) and humpback migration seasons (June-October).
Whale-watching tours book up quickly, so buying tickets ahead of time is a good idea if you want to guarantee a spot on a tour boat. The Orcas Island Ferry offers daily trips from Friday Harbor to San Juan Island, where you can watch orcas in their natural habitat without getting seasick!
Which state is best for whale watching?
If you’re looking for an exciting vacation that includes wildlife, whale watching is a great choice. The Pacific Ocean has some of the best places to spot whales worldwide. On your boat tour, you can see orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales. If you want to go on a land-based trip instead, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking through forests and beaches where you might see sea lions or other animals.
- Santa Barbara, California;
- Monterey Bay, California;
- Kodiak Island, Alaska;
- San Juan Islands, Washington;
- Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
So, what do you think? Are we going to see a lot of whales or not? I hope this article has inspired you to go on a whale-watching trip. Remember that whales are an endangered species and need our help!
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