If you’re looking for somewhere to see whales in Washington State then you’re in the right place.
There’s plenty of places to see whales as well as orcas in their natural habitat all over Washington, from Washington’s Pacific Coast to Seattle.
This post will tell you all of the best places to see whales and orcas in Washington State and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out.
Best Time Of Year To See Whales In Washington
Whales are a migratory species that migrate along the pacific coast during the spring and fall.
Whale sightings in Washington occur between May through to September.
Peak season for whale watching is from mid-June to early September, so this is the best time to visit Washington for whale watching.
Salmon runs attract a range of different whales to these waters every year, including humpback whales, minke whales, orcas and gray whales.
Best Tours For Whale Watching In Washington State
For the best chance of seeing a whale in Washington, book onto a whale watching tour.
During the summer months, the chances of seeing a whale on a whale watching tour is as high as 90%!
- This top rated whale watching cruise departs from Friday Harbor and gives you up close views of orca whales surrounding San Juan Island.
- This incredible sailing tour takes you out into the Puget Sound looking for seals and whales, whilst soaking up the ambience of the ocean.
- If you’d prefer to do something more active then why not join a kayaking tour from Anacortes instead. This tour offers a chance to spot whales and other marine life.
- If you’re worried about spending money on a tour and not seeing any whales then join this guaranteed whale sighting tour. In the rare occurrence that you don’t see a whale, they’ll let you join another tour for free.
- For an unforgettable experience, join a seaplane tour and fly over Seattle and the San Juan Islands, looking for migrating whales from above.
Can You See Whales From The Shore In Washington State?
If you want to see whales from the shore then there are places all over Washington where you can spot whales out in the ocean.
Below I have listed the exact locations across Washington where you can go whale watching, but bear in mind that sightings from the shore are less likely and cannot be guaranteed.
For the best chance of seeing whales in Washington, book a boat tour.
If you do want to see whales from the shore then make sure you take a pair of binoculars with you to give you the best possible view of the whales.
Best Places To See Whales In Washington
There’s many places all over Washington State where you can observe whales, including orcas, in the ocean.
Below I’ve listed the exact locations of where you can see whales in Washington to give you the best possible chance of spotting a wild whale.
San Juan Islands
One of the best places in Washington State to see whales is on the San Juan Islands.
The San Juan Islands are a group of islands located at the north western tip of Washington State. They are known for their stunning rural landscapes and abundance of wildlife.
At certain times of the year, whales can commonly be seen from various different spots across the islands.
For the best chance of seeing a whale on the San Juan Islands, book onto a whale watching tour. You could also join a kayaking tour if you’d prefer to do something more active.
I have written an entire guide to whale watching on the San Juan Islands so check this out for more details including where to see whales from the shore.
Check out the video below which shows a magnificent whale sighting in the San Juan Islands:
Another great place to go whale watching in Washington State is in Seattle.
Seattle is a major US city and the largest in Washington State. It is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests.
The city itself sits on the Puget Sound, a body of water that links to the nearby Pacific Ocean.
The Puget Sound is one of the best places in Washington to go whale watching and sightings of whales, including orcas, are super common.
The best way to see whales in Seattle is to get out onto the water. You could book onto a private sailboat tour or for something a bit more special, book onto a seaplane tour and soar over the Puget Sound from above, searching for whales.
There are actually also several places in Seattle where you can see whales from the shore.
One of the best places to see whales from the shore in Seattle is on Alki Beach.
Alki Beach, located in West Seattle, is a popular beach with epic views of the Puget Sound. Whales can often be seen from this beach and in the summer they sometimes come close to the shore.
You can also sometimes see whales from other points that look out into Elliott Bay in Seattle.
Another place in Washington State where you can go whale watching is Anacortes.
Anacortes is a small city situated on the tip of Fidalgo Island, just a 1.5 hour drive north of Seattle. The city features a vibrant coastal community and is a popular recreational site.
It’s proximity to the Strait of Juan de Fuca provides fantastic opportunities to spot whales.
The water that surrounds Anacortes is home to 3 resident pods of orca whales. You will also have the opportunity to spot humpback, minke and gray whales in Anacortes too.
A popular activity is to get out into the water itself and join a kayaking tour. These are super fun and give you the best opportunity to get up-close to a whale.
If you’re wanting to view whales from the shore in Anacortes then head over to Washington Park.
This 220-acre park overlooks Burrows Pass, a water channel that lies between the park and nearby Burrows Island.
Burrows Pass is the best place to observe a variety of marine life including whales, porpoises and harbor seals. Just head up to one of the lookout points at Washington Park for epic views of the channel.
Check out the video below which shows an amazing orca sighting in Anacortes:
Point Defiance Park
Another place where you can go whale watching in Washington is at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma.
Point Defiance Park is a 760-acre urban park featuring woodland trails, gardens and scenic waterfront views.
The best place to see whales at Point Defiance is along the north shore, one popular spot is Owen Beach.
A popular activity is to join a boat tour which takes you around the area and past Point Defiance with lots of opportunities to spot whales along the way.
You can also often see resident orcas from the Dalco Passage overlook which overlooks the water passage between Point Defiance and nearby Vashon Island. Humpbacks, orcas, gray whales, porpoises, seals and minke whales are often seen here.
Check out the video below of an orca spotted from Point Defiance Park:
Olympic National Park
Another great place to see whales in Washington is at the Olympic National Park.
The Olympic National Park is one of the USA’s most popular national parks, encompassing nearly a million acres. It features vast wilderness, dramatic peaks and backpacking trails.
The best way to experience the park to the fullest is by joining a full day guided tour – this one takes you from Seattle and back.
There’s many spots across the Olympic National Park where you can go whale watching.
One of the best places to go whale watching within the park is Shi Shi Beach which is located on the western coast of the park. You can also spot whales at the nearby Neah Bay.
Gray whales are commonly spotted here and occasionally people have reported seeing orcas and humpback whales too.
Another popular spot within the park is the Destruction Island Viewpoint, located 1 mile south of Ruby Beach. The viewpoint looks out across the water here towards the nearby uninhabited Destruction Island where orcas and gray whales can commonly be seen.
Finally, the area of Kalaloch features several sandy beaches that give great views of the Washington waters where you can often observe whales.
Another place where you can go whale watching in Washington is at Port Townsend.
Port Townsend is a small city located on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula overlooking the Puget Sound.
Port Townsend has lots of whale watching opportunities. Most people book onto a whale watching tour in the town and head out into the Salish Sea.
One of the best places to see whales from the shore at Port Townsend is at Point Wilson Lighthouse.
From here, you should look out north towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This Strait is an important passageway for whales as it leads directly to the open ocean.
If you want to learn more about whales then you can also visit the Port Townsend Marine Science Center which teaches you all about the whales and even has a giant orca skeleton on display.
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center sits on a pier – you can often see whales from this pier if you look out east into the Admiralty Inlet.
One place where you can see whales on Washington’s Pacific Coast is Damon Point.
Damon Point in Ocean Shores is a 61-acre park that sits on a 1 mile long, half mile wide stretch of land that juts out into the sea.
Whale sightings in the ocean at Damon Point are super common. The park has 4 miles of beaches with water on 3 sides of the island so it’s a great place to hike and observe marine life.
Damon Point is also home to a variety of other wildlife including porpoises, seals and lots of birds.
Check out the video below of an impressive whale spotted at Damon Point:
Another great whale watching location in Washington State is Port Angeles.
Port Angeles is a small city that sits along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, an important whale passageway. It’s the gateway city to one of the USA’s most popular national parks – Olympic National Park.
One of the best places to spot whales in Port Angeles is at Crescent Bay. The Salt Creek Recreation Area sits on this bay which has great views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca where orcas, minke whales and humpback whales can often be spotted.
You can also often spot whales at Freshwater Bay County Park.
One of the best places to observe whales on Washington’s Pacific Coast is at Westport.
Westport is a small city located on the south side of the entrance into Grays Harbor from the Pacific Ocean.
Westport is a great place to spot gray whales which hang out off the western coast of Washington from March to May as they migrate north towards Alaska.
There’s plenty of boat tours available in Westport that will take you for a closer look or you can observe the magnificent whales from the shore.
One of the best spots to view whales from the shore in Westport is at the Westport Viewing Tower and in Grays Harbor.
Check out the below video of an incredible whale sighting in Westport:
Another great place where you can see whales on Washington’s Pacific Coast is in Seabrook.
Seabrook is a new beach town on Washington’s coast and a popular vacation spot.
Whales can commonly be spotted from Seabrook’s shoreline. Many people opt to rent an oceanside vacation home where you can usually see gray whales right from the window!
For even closer views, you can head down to Seabrook beach and look out into the ocean for a glimpse of a whale’s tail splashing around in the sea.
Thanks for reading this post on where to see whales in Washington State.
Wherever you are in Washington, there’s plenty of options here to go whale watching and see whales on boat tours and from the shore.