331 Things to Do – #101 Gaze at Humpback Whales Along the Whale Trail at Crescent Bay or Take a Whale Watching Tour in Port Angeles, Washington

Keep An Eye Out for Killer Whales (Orcas), Gray Whales and Minke Whales

Whale watch by boat or on foot (really!) along the Whale Trail in Port Angeles, Washington.

The waters surrounding Port Angeles — only a short drive from Seattle — offer one of North America’s finest vantage points for up-close viewing of humpback whales, gray whales, resident and transient orca whales (a.k.a. killer whales), and the elusive minke whale. Prime whale watching season on the Olympic Peninsula runs from May through October.

Humpback Whales

The majestic Strait of Juan de Fuca has become home to the beloved “Humpback Comeback” of the Pacific Northwest, with hundreds of these acrobatic “songsters of the sea” choosing our cold, nutrient-rich waters as their summer feeding grounds.

Humpback Whale - Whale Watching in Port Angeles, WA

 Photo by Bart Rulon

Gray Whales

Gray whales currently hold the record for the longest mammal migration, covering up to 14,000 miles. Watch these seasoned travelers as they make a local pit stop on their annual return to Alaska from Baja, Mexico. Gray whales are the only bottom-feeding whale, which means they literally scoop up an entire mouthful of a meal from the sea floor.

Killer Whales (Orca Whale)

Resident orcas have called the waters of the Salish Sea home for generations. They live in tightly knit family groups, which range from the youngest baby to the eldest female. This outgoing group of killer whales can be very playful and acrobatic, especially after a successful hunt for their favorite food, Chinook salmon.

Watching transient orcas is National Geographic unplugged. Now a more common sight in our waters, these stealthy hunters collaborate in their family pod to coordinate an intricate attack on a growing local population of harbor seals, California and Steller sea lions, and harbor porpoise.

Minke Whales

Minke whales, are one of the most mysterious marine mammals, are relatively solitary creatures that traverse the Salish Sea to feed on schools of small baitfish. Watching a minke lunge-feed through a bait ball is exhilarating.

Whale Watching Tours in Downtown Port Angeles

Daily whale watching tours leave from the Port Angeles harbor in downtown with Island Adventures Whale Watching, where photo-of-a-lifetime opportunities happen at every turn. An experienced naturalist will help you identify the array of whales, elephant seals, sea otters, and birds that the waters off Port Angeles hold.

Aboard the company’s bigger, faster Island Explorer 3, added in 2017, you’ll enjoy ample comfort, range, room, and safety — all vessels exceed the required safety rating for Washington state ferries.

It’s no wonder nature and sea life lovers from around the world visit Port Angeles — it’s one of the West Coast’s best spots for whale watching! Plan your “whale of a view” whale watching experience on the Olympic Peninsula.

Top Photo (Orca whales) by Adventures Through Kayaking