West Coast Whale Watching

Since I moved here in 2008, a Pacific Ocean whale watch has been on my to-do list. I’ve always loved North Atlantic whale watches and my family and I have been going on them since I was young, usually embarking from the beautiful port of Gloucester, Massachusetts. After three years, we finally got our act together and planned a trip with our very good friends Vinny and Kelly. Actually, I planned the trip and it was a surprise for everyone else. Each month, one of us is in charge of planning a surprise adventure for the other three people. August was my month.

We woke up early, too early in Vinny’s case (until I put a homemade english muffin breakfast sandwich in front of his face) and headed up north to Anacortes, WA which is an hour and a half drive from Seattle. Kelly and I had planned a picnic ahead of time to make sure we were well fed over the 5 hour whale watch.

The boat headed out into Canadian waters to find the J and K pods. We hunkered down with our windbreakers, sunglasses, binoculars and cameras for the trek out to the Orcas. After an hour and a half boat ride and a cell phone message that we were in Canadian waters, the whales were spotted.

Orca Whales


What I didn’t know about Orca whale watches was since they are endangered, each boat has to be 200 yards or feet (I forget) away from them and can only spend one hour with them. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have booked a five-hour whale watch but everyone was really happy just being on a boat with the wind in our hair and salt water spray on our face. After we spent our time with the whales, we headed inside to have lunch. I was so happy we packed a picnic, it was definitely the way to go. When I had called ahead to ask if they had food onboard, they answered that there was a caterer and everyone is encouraged to buy food from them unless there were dietary restrictions. I decided my dietary restriction was being a food snob and I wasn’t confident about their food options. Turns out my instincts were correct. Their “caterer” offered hot dogs, chili, chili cheese dogs and a rubbery deli sandwich. We began to unpack our picnic and heads started to turn as the cutting board and chef’s knife was unpacked. There was a large group of Spaniards sitting across from us and I could tell from their looks that they were jealous. I wanted to say, “See? Americans can be classy. Take that Europeans”. David had made homemade Gravlax in Boston, so we brought that along with spicy mustard and matzo crackers. We may have looked a tad silly whipping out a portable kitchen on a whale watch, but we ate much better than anyone on the boat so who cares? Kelly brought delicious cheese and crackers and Vinny brought whipped cream (for our coffee and fresh fruit) that he ended up squirting all over the cooler “by accident” :). I brought cantaloupe, blueberries, homemade hummus (made by David), pita bread, and chocolate zucchini muffins.

We decided to take the scenic route home down Whidbey Island, through Deception Pass and to the Clinton ferry to Mukilteo, WA to join our friends Jeri and Dan for dinner at Amici Bistro. It was a long day surrounded by breathtaking views, beautiful animals, great friends and lots of laughter.

David & His Gravlax

Right before we heaaded out to sea

Deception Pass

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