As lifelong Pacific Northwesterners, my husband and I pride ourselves on sharing the beauty of this region when family and friends come to visit. This spring, when our Chicago family decided to journey west we didn’t hesitate to book a whale watching tour as part of their vacation itinerary. It seemed like the perfect outing to enjoy the Puget Sound with the excitement of possibly seeing whales and other wildlife. The kids were especially excited Whales? Up close and in real life? Yes!
We booked a three hour tour out of Everett for our group of 12 with Island Adventures Whale Watching. A few things drew us to this particular company. First, two different families recently had good experiences with Island Adventures, and, in my book, a firsthand recommendation is worth its weight in gold. Second, thanks to Groupon, we scored quite the deal! Generally though, Island Adventures is priced very competitively and they offer military, AAA, senior, college student, and 30+ day advance reservation discounts. On top of that, children under 3 are only $1! Third, and definitely best of all, Island Adventures Whale Watching GUARANTEES that you’ll see a whale.
Their exact guarantee states:
If you do not see a whale (orca, minke, gray, or humpback) with us you can come again for FREE, for life, on any tour until you do. This is not a gimmick — it is a passion to show our guests whales. Notice there is no fine print and this is not a stand-by pass. Just give us a call, and your next tour is on us. It’s that simple.
That guarantee sold me. Island Adventures obviously believes in what they do and the experience they provide to their guests. We couldn’t wait to explore with them as our guide.
True to their promise, our late March whale watching tour fell in line with their 96% success rate. Not only did we see a gray whale within the first hour of our tour, Island Adventures actually extended our time on the water in order to follow an orca pod.
It was beyond amazing to see such magnificent creatures so close up in their natural habitat. Our group ranged from toddlers to grandparents and we were all in awe. It’s one thing to see whales on TV or in photos, it’s quite another to watch them breech and blow water a few hundred yards away. Pictures do not do them justice, you must get out on the water and see these whales for yourself.
It’s also worth noting that the galley deckhands who facilitate the tour are extremely family friendly and eager to make your whale watching experience the best it can be. My 5 year old is extra chatty and full of questions, especially about animal facts, and the staff at Island Adventures never tired of his eagerness to learn about the boat we were on, the whales we saw, and the seals and birds we encountered along the way. Island Adventures staff is well versed in safety procedures and have complimentary binoculars available. Food service is available, which includes beer and wine, and if the weather has you worried, there is an enclosed space you can stay in the entire time if you choose. But, I promise, once the first whale is spotted, you’ll be running to the deck to catch a glimpse and snap a photo to remember your whale watching experience.
Island Adventures Whale Watching departs out of Everett, La Conner, Anacortes, and Port Angeles. Depending on the location, tours are available every month of the year except for January. So, layer up, grab your camera, and get ready to see one of the Puget Sound’s greatest wonders - whales!