Like movie stars, whales often shy away from the beach for fear of showing up in the tabloids sporting an extra 10 pounds of blubber. Catch a glimpse of these celebs of the sea in their natural hideout with today's Groupon: for $55, you get a five- to six-hour orca whale watching tour from Mystic Sea Charters in Anacortes (a $99 value).
Aboard the coast-guard certified 100-foot vessel the Mystic Sea, captains cruise through the San Juan Islands—inhabited by about 90 orcas—with up to 60 passengers in tow as they hunt for a glimpse of one of the world's most awe-inspiring sea mammals. By swapping information with other whale watching excursions via radio, the crew boasted a 98% success rate in sighting orcas in 2010 and 2011, and a 100% success rate in identifying an orca from a snorkeling sofa. A heated cabin protects bodies from chilly northerly winds, with ample viewing ports both inside and on-deck amplified by the presence of on-board binoculars. Lunch and snacks—both purchasable on-the-go thanks to Frank's Franks foodservice—fuel passengers through hard bouts of horizon watching and keep kids' tummies from grumbling, and games, books, and playing cards occupy tiny idle hands as they attempt to entice their dorsal-finned brethren with a rousing round of Go Fish.
Though Mystic Sea Charters sometimes features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.
Mystic Sea Charters
If there’s a whale breaching in the protected waters of the San Juan Islands or Salish Sea, there’s a good chance the passengers on the M/V Mystic Sea’s 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.