Looking for a whale of a trip? Then load up the family and head to an area where you can get up close and personal with some of the largest creatures on Earth. My family enjoys whale watching off the Hawaiian Islands, but I recently learned about another group of islands where the whale watching has been hailed as some of the best in the world.
The San Juan Islands, a group of small islands off the coast of Washington state, is considered by naturalists as a must-stop destination for whale watching enthusiasts. And the experts aren’t just referring to just any whale, visitors to Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island are treated to spectacular views of killer whales, which come so close to shore that you don’t even have to leave dry land to see them breech. You’ll get the best views of the orcas from May through September. That’s when park workers say the killer whales pass by within five feet of the kelp, which means right next to the rocks.
I enjoy watching whales from shore, but personally find taking a whale-watching tour is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. Similar to the Hawaii whale watching tours, commercial whale-watch boats are available in the San Juan Islands, most from Orcas Island.
If you are taking the entire family and have one member who is not that keen on whales, don’t let him or her skip out on the tour—the San Juan Islands are about more than just whales. They’re about porpoises, too. According to local tour boat captains, the porpoises love to follow and bow ride. Most boat captains allow passengers to hang out on the bow, and watch the porpoises jump up. In addition, your ride also includes views of bald eagles and other wildlife.
When you are done taking in the natural beauty of the sea and shore consider spending a relaxing night at one of the area’s oldest Inns. The Orcas Inn is more than 100-years-old and is located at the center of Orcas Island, in the heart of Eastsound village. Its charming style and friendly staff may convince you to make the trip an annual family event.