Sailing in Anacortes


Select Local Merchants

On a childhood fishing trip with his dad in the San Juan Islands, Shane Aggergaard noticed a group of orcas swimming toward his boat. Rather than steering clear of human contact, they swam directly under the boat—one even looked Shane right in the eye. It was a moment of whale-human connection he never forgot, and nowadays tries to approximate through Island Adventures. The whale-watching tour company, which Shane founded with his wife, Jennifer, brings passengers into close contact with the aquatic mammals of the Pacific Northwest. Depending on the season, wilderness-savvy guides—who’ve led more than 6,000 collective wildlife tours during their careers—can introduce passengers to minke whales and the San Juan’s three resident orca pods, migrating gray whales, or humpbacks. Their 101-foot vessel, The Island Explorer 3, boasts a large bow pulpit and a viewing deck with more than 400 feet of railing, ideal for seeing whales in their entirety, from their tails to their trusty sets of water wings. The team backs each tour with a whale-sighting guarantee and strives to ensure future sightings by making sustainable choices, from its ecofriendly cleaning products to the boat's cabin floor made from recycled tires.
1801 Commercial Ave
Anacortes,
WA
US
If there?s a whale breaching on the protected waters of the San Juan Islands, there?s a good chance a passenger on Mystic Sea Charters? 100-foot vessel will see the splashy spectacle. The company?s five- to six-hour tours have an impressive track record when it comes to spotting the gargantuan mammals, introducing tour-goers to different species of whale up to 99% of the time. Onboard the ship, a naturalist divulges facts about ocean life as passengers watch for whales from the heated cabin or from the deck, which has 4-foot railings so guests can hold on if whales start singing and dancing to the hit song ?Rock the Boat.? The company promises that voyagers will see at least one gray, orca, humpback, or minke whale, depending on the season. If not, they?ll receive a follow-up whale-watching tour for free.
819 Commercial Avenue
Anacortes,
WA
US
Aboard Aura?a 33-foot wooden sloop constructed by master shipbuilders in 1948?groups glide across the waters of Deer Harbor to the San Juan Islands. Search for wildlife such as seals and porpoises as you float through the channel, pass Jones and Crane Islands, and cut across Pole Pass. Sit back and relax while the skipper navigates the boat, or for a more hands-on approach, get to the helm to steer the boat and handle the ropes. Passengers are encouraged to bring along their own snacks and drinks and can even participate in one of the races that occur throughout the summer.
5164 Deer Harbor Road
Eastsound,
WA
US
Since 1962, owner and U.S. Coast Guard?licensed captain Terry Buzzard has gotten to know the San Juan Islands and surrounding miles of water pretty well. Having hauled mail for the Post Office, salvaged wrecks, assisted in oil spill cleanups, and ferried passengers throughout the San Juan Islands, he has built quite a resum? of seafaring. This relationship with water isn't so surprising considering he began boating at the age of 3 when he was allowed to pilot a single-horsepower boat by himself with his trained rescue dog, Rusty. Regardless of the actual job he's performing, Terry is always drawn to whales. By 1978, this fascination lead him to chartering trips specifically for whale watching, especially toward the schools of orca that made the region their home. Looking back, he's pretty certain his boat was the only one in the area at the time dedicated to the thrill of witnessing some of the world's largest and most beautiful animals. Today, the waters are spotted with various boats filled with passengers snapping pictures of the great aquatic beasts and shouting ululations whenever one smacks its enormous tail against the water, takes a playful leap, or belts a Mariah Carey song. Terry's boat, the 110-foot Island Caper, provides generous sightlines to all passengers via its spacious outdoor deck and ample indoor viewing areas, and is decked out with a 34-speaker sound system. In business for 53 years, Island Mariner Whale Watching's unparalleled time and experience on the water offers cruise-goers an ideal experience, and also employs a seaplane to help spot whales and guide tours. With his chief navigator??a 8-year-old airedale terrier also named Rusty??Terry is right out there amid the excitement, ferrying whale watchers and sharing his life-long passion.
2621 S Harbor Loop Dr.
Bellingham,
WA
US
A tiny ripple glides along the smooth-as-glass water, alerting captain Pete to the fact that he and his passengers are about to have company. Sure enough, within seconds a group of glossy black fins breaks through the sea in a silent, synchronized ballet. A native Washingtonian who has spent his entire life on the water, captain Pete orchestrates San Juan Excursions to grant guests the chance to go head-to-head with nature in moments such as these. As marine naturalists certified by the Whale Museum?s Naturalist Training Program, captain Pete?s crew of passionate guides take to the peaceful waters of the Puget Sound to entertain boatloads of guests with informative facts about area wildlife witnessed during excursions. The team?s passion for nature informs its low-impact approach to whale and wildlife watching, which is exemplified in the Odyssey, the company's tour boat. Originally a U.S. Navy search-and-rescue vessel forged in 1941, the craft is fueled by biodiesel when possible and maintains a low propeller RPM to minimize the Bono moans it releases into the water column. Though San Juan Excursions specializes in whale watching, it also sends adventurers forth to explore the waters on their own steam during sea-kayak tours.
65 Spring St
Friday Harbor,
WA
US
He's out there somewhere—the notorious Pirate Pete. Over every sailor's adventure, the shadow of his greed looms. But the crew of Pirate Adventures is ready. On their 50-foot ship, 12 water cannons point toward the sea, guarding the vessel from his villainy while they search Davy Jones's locker for sunken treasure. If Pete should show his face, he'll get a face full of water. If he should happen to board anyway, it'll be the plank for him. During Pirate Adventures' 75-minute treasure hunts, children and their parents sail into this exciting world of high-seas adventure. Crew members welcome aboard new mateys with face-paint, pirate garb, and a sea-worthy moniker, such as "Black Beard' or "Esmerelda, Princess of the Dolphins." Beneath the Jolly Roger flapping in the breeze, the crews decipher maps, solve puzzles, and sing sea shanties, eventually fishing their sought-after treasure chest from the water's depths. Throughout the hunt, the Pirate Adventures crew keeps their unpatched eyes on safety. Everything is kept up to Transport Canada's code: they have all trained in marine emergency procedures, marine first aid, and safe vessel operation.
330 St. Lawrence Street
Victoria,
BC
CA
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