Whale & Wildlife Watching
Magnificent orca (or killer) whales live in the San Juan Islands year round, and this is the best place in the world to see them in the wild. You can also spot humpbacks, minkes and occasionally even gray whales. Three orca pods, J, K & L—the “Southern Residents”—are generally in the area from late spring through early fall. The Southern Residents are critically endangered, so please Be Whale Wise and watch from a respectful distance, and find out how you can help here.
Transient, or Bigg’s, orcas can often be seen year-round, as well as Steller sea lions, harbor seals, porpoise, bald eagles, and much more. Find out more about the whales when you Follow the Whale Trail.
Whale sightings are never guaranteed, but the three ways of greatest potential for spotting them is with a professional whale watching tour operator (see below!), a guided kayak trip, or from shore along the west side of San Juan Island.