Bellingham Admin | 06/16/2011 | Insider Blogs |   

Go Whale Watching with San Juan Cruises

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary.  We planned a local getaway and it was amazing!  I will post about it in two parts, so here is part one, which was with the San Juan Cruises. We opted for the San Juan Adventure Full Day Cruise, which is described on their web site as:

Welcome aboard and enjoy the sights and sounds of the incredible wildlife that abound in the scenic San Juan Islands. We'll keep an eye out for Orca whales, bald eagles, seals, porpoises, sea lions, Minke whales and other wildlife, as the captain tells you about the history, wildlife and geology of the area. You'll have 2 hours to wander around the quaint seaside town of Friday Harbor, before cruising back to Bellingham and enjoying a delicious Northwest salmon & chicken buffet. No other cruise in the Northwest offers so much!
We boarded around 9:15 am and the cruise headed out at about 9:30 am.  The morning started out chilly and a bit overcast, but the captain informed us that the weather is generally better in the San Juans due to the Cascade Mountain range creating a "rain shadow" -- essentially, the rain clouds can't pass through, so they get stuck above Bellingham.  And of course, our Captain was right -- it was beautiful, warm and sunny in Friday Harbor when we arrived! But I digress.  Before our arrival in Friday Harbor, we learned -- thanks to our Captain's narrative -- about the history of the area and the many islands we passed.  Like this little island, for example: It's a tiny private island that a man purchase with the intent to build a cabin.  However, when he went to apply for the permits, they discovered an eagle's nest right in the center of the island.  Bald eagles are a protected species, and it is prohibited to build within 400 feet of an eagle's nest.  Unfortunately, the island is so small, it's not possible for anything to be built 400 feet away, so all the island has is a dock.  How unfortunate for the owner, but what a nice, private camping spot.  :) We did see a lot of wildlife.  Sadly, in the morning rush of getting children ready for the baby sitter, I forgot my zoom lens, so I have no truly good photos to share.  We saw porpoises, harbor seals, a California sea lion, eagles, and orca whales.  Here's a California sea lion sunning himself on a buoy and watching us pass by: When we saw the whales, our Captain stopped the boat and we enjoyed watching them for a very long time, just floating in the ocean.  He pointed out exactly where they were, what they were doing (feeding at one point, spy-hopping later on) and talked about the differences in types orca whales, such as resident orcas vs. transient orcas. Regulation states that you cannot be within 200 yards of an orca whale in the open water, so without that zoom lens, I couldn't get a post-worthy photo.  But here's a shot of everyone ooooooohing and aaaaaaaaaaahing over the whales.  :) Once we were done whale watching, my husband and I hung out at the front of the boat, enjoying the sunshine and the breeze as we journeyed to Friday Harbor. The trip includes two hours in Friday Harbor, so we walked around and shopped for souvenirs for our children.  We found two great toy stores, and also browsed some book and clothing stores while we were there.  By that point, the clouds were clearing and the sun was shining - it was gorgeous and perfect for just walking around the little town and relaxing.  I set the camera on a garbage can and set the timer to snap this shot before we headed back to the boat for the ride home to Bellingham: On the ride back, we enjoyed our buffet dinner consisting of dinner rolls, rice, chicken and salmon and the dessert buffet that ensued (I would tell you what all they had, but I only recall the cheesecake and Cool-Whip!).  We returned to Bellingham around 5:30 pm. It was an amazing little day trip and I can't wait to do it again!  If you're interested, contact:

San Juan Cruises -

Bellingham Cruises Terminal 355 Harris Avenue, Suite #104 Bellingham, WA 98225 Toll Free: 800.443.4552 Local: 360.738.8099 Email: Stay tuned for part two of our anniversary trip, where we stayed at the Silver Reef Hotel-Casino-Spa and has spa treatments!  :)

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