03 May Kayaking the San Juan Islands in Search of Orca Whales
Our goal for the day was to catch a glimpse of the orca whales that frequented the waters around Washington’s San Juan Islands. Our transportation of choice? Kayaks.
We woke well before the sun did to make our way out to San Juan Island. Since we were staying in Seattle the night before, we had to drive two hours and then take the morning ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor in order to start our adventure. But let’s be honest, when you have to wake up before 4 a.m., the adventure had been in full swing well before our first paddle strokes. As we sat on the ferry, the sun began to peek out over the horizon and a brilliant display of vibrant pinks splashed across the sky.
After the hour or so ferry ride, we groggily disembarked and wobbled our way onto the docks. We had a bit of time to spare before our guide from Sea Quest was due to pick us up for our tour, so a few photos and videos of the quaint harbor town were in order.
Because this adventure was a part of a film project we were working on, we were booked on a private tour–normally we have to try and film while keeping up with the pace of our tour mates, but this time around we were the ones setting the pace. Once we were out on the water, we could focus on filming and finding whales.
We launched our kayaks into the bay at San Juan County Park after getting suited up in our splash guards and stepping into the frigid waters for push off.
As we paddled away from the shore, our excitement and anticipation grew. Our guide told us how around 80% or so of the tours have a whale sighting as we were paddling through a designated orca whale sanctuary.
The first wildlife sighting of the day was not a whale, but rather a bald eagle resting high in the trees. As we paddled along the rocky coastline, we chatted about the area, travel, kayaking and our common thread of calling Minnesota home.
Continuing on, we made our way past a rocky outcrop where a group of adorable seals were basking in the sun.
The next sighting was in the water, but it was of the much smaller sea life variety–jellyfish!
And then we waited. And waited. And waited, until eventually it was time to head back to dry land.
Unfortunately, luck was just not on our side and we landed in the 20% that didn’t spot a whale. We may not have encountered any orcas that day, but because we did happen to see seals, jellyfish, bald eagles and plenty of spectacular rocky coastlines, the day was still a success. Even when you don’t find what you are looking for, if you make sure to keep your eyes open, you are sure to encounter some fantastic surprises along the way.
As we made our way back to Bainbridge on the ferry, I kept my eyes peeled on the water because you never really know what you might see.
Have you ever been kayaking in the San Juan Islands? Would you like to see a whale from a kayak?