Go Whale Watching During Your Orcas Island Vacation! 

Surrounded by the Salish Sea, Orcas Island offers breathtaking landscapes and endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Looking for one of the most unique things to do on Orcas Island? Orcas Island whale watching may be just the thing for you! Dive into the captivating world of these majestic creatures as you go on a one-of-a-kind adventure. And when looking for an Orcas Island hotel to stay in, look no further than The Village Inn at Eastsound. 

About The Whales Around Orcas Island

Orcas Island is home to not only the famous orca whales but also humpback whales, minke whales, and gray whales, which can be spotted in the surrounding waters of the island.

orcas popping heads out of water in sea

Orca whales, the largest member of the dolphin family, are truly remarkable creatures. They embody intelligence, coordination, and strength. These majestic beings are known to possess highly sophisticated hunting tactics, demonstrating their remarkable intellect and graceful movements. The towering dorsal fin of an orca is upwards of 6 feet tall, further enhancing their imposing nature and fueling a sense of admiration and respect. Not only are orca whales commanding in their physicality, but they are also one of the fastest swimmers in the ocean, reaching speeds of up to 33.5 mph. Their endless foraging and socializing, which can lead to covering over 99 miles in a single day, showcases their remarkable stamina and endurance. 

Another sea creature residing in the island’s surrounding waters is the humpback whale. As their name suggests, a distinct hump is on their front, above their small dorsal fins. With dark backs ranging from deep gray to captivating blue-black, set against their paler bellies—some pure white, others painted with patterns—they conjure a mesmerizing visual. Humpback whales reach lengths of approximately 50 feet and can weigh up to almost 7000 pounds. As guardians of the seas, humpback whales roam the globe, visiting various corners of the world with their presence. With astonishing endurance, humpback whales have been recorded swimming ceaselessly for as long as nine weeks, defying physical limitations to traverse distances that surpass almost 5000 miles or more. 

A bit more shy than the other whales we have covered is the elusive minke whale. Often regarded as one of the trickiest marine mammals to find, these sleek and nimble beings hold a special place in our hearts on Orcas Island. Minke whales devote much of their time in the Salish Sea to a relentless pursuit of their favorite delicacy – bait fish. Witnessing the extraordinary spectacle of a minke whale lunge feeding through a bait ball leaves one breathless with excitement. These unique creatures, known for their mid-water feeding practices, can be detected by smell alone. Their breath carries an overpowering presence, earning them the affectionate moniker of “stinky minkes.” Minke whales have a unique sound of communication. These haunting, sci-fi-like calls baffled researchers for over five decades until they finally unraveled the mystery – the mesmerizing vocalizations of minke whales. These majestic beings, hidden beneath the waves, enchant us with secrets that defy comprehension. 

Majestic gray whales, distinguished by their enduring record as the longest mammal migrators, traverse a distance of 10,000-14,000 miles each year. Orcas Island is blessed to witness their annual pitstop on their return voyage to the pristine shores of Alaska. The phenomenon of gray whale feeding is a rare sight that not many are able to experience. As the only bottom-feeding whales, these magnificent creatures plunge into the depths, scooping up mouthfuls of the sea floor. With baleen plates acting as their intricate filters, they skillfully separate water from sustenance, retaining their delicate prey – the elusive ghost shrimp. These remarkable beings, reaching up to an impressive length of 50 feet, feed in the waters, engaging observers with their mesmerizing approach. 

The Best Time Of Year For Whale Watching

If you are planning a trip to Orcas Island with whale watching as a highlight, it’s essential to know the best time of year to catch these incredible creatures in action. Orcas Island whale watching season typically runs from April to September, when the waters are abundant with prey for the whales. During this time, you have the highest chance of encountering whales gliding through the waves or witnessing breaches and tail slaps.

Where To See Whales

There are several vantage points on Orcas Island where you can spot whales from the shore. Lime Kiln Point State Park, San Juan County Park, and American Camp National Park are the three best places to whale watch. These parks provide stunning backdrops for observing whales as they traverse the waters. Observation platforms offer panoramic views of the Salish Sea, allowing you to witness the whales’ captivating displays.

Plan Your Visit

Ready to embark on the whale watching adventure of a lifetime? Book your perfect Orcas Island hotel room today to get started!

Orcas Island Whale Watching Tours

To truly experience the magic of Orcas Island whale watching, consider going on a guided whale-watching tour. Local tour operators offer specialized excursions that combine expert knowledge with the thrill of being just a few feet away from these magnificent creatures. Here are three reputable companies that provide exceptional Orcas Island whale tours. 

Deer Harbor Charters

Begin a journey with Deer Harbor Charters, where experienced naturalists will guide you on a special whale-watching adventure. Their spacious vessels ensure comfort and unobstructed views, while their commitment to environmental stewardship aligns perfectly with Orcas Island’s eco-conscious values. Keep an eye out for their unique package options, including options that cater to families and photographers.

Outer Island Excursions

If you’re seeking a personalized and intimate Orcas Island whale-watching tour, Outer Island Excursions is a perfect choice. Departing from Orcas Island’s Eastsound, their knowledgeable captains will take you to the best locations for encountering whales up close. Enjoy the luxurious comfort of their state-of-the-art boats, designed with sustainability in mind. 

Orcas Enchanted

Experience a magical journey with Orcas Enchanted, a company dedicated to providing unique and eco-friendly whale-watching experiences. Their expert guides will navigate the waters, sharing fascinating insights into the behavior and habitat of the magnificent creatures you encounter. Orcas Enchanted ensures a truly enchanting and eco-conscious adventure.

Book Your Lodging At The Best Orcas Island Hotel – Stay At The Village Inn at Eastsound

After an exhilarating day of whale watching, retreat to the comfort and elegance of The Village Inn at Eastsound, the premier hotel on Orcas Island. This luxurious and eco-conscious hotel embodies sustainability and relaxation. You’ll be pleased to find that The Village Inn is one of the only Orcas Island pet-friendly hotels, ensuring that your furry companions can also enjoy a first-class experience. Each room comes with a welcome bag and pet supplies to keep your beloved pets comfortable throughout their stay. The hotel’s furnishings are sustainably sourced, providing a touch of natural elegance to every room. As part of their dedication to reducing single-use plastics, The Village Inn offers a water refill station on-site, encouraging guests to stay hydrated while minimizing their environmental footprint. For guests with electric vehicles, the hotel also provides on-site electric vehicle chargers, ensuring a seamless and sustainable travel experience. Book your stay at The Village Inn today and be one step closer to experiencing the magic of Orcas Island for yourself!