Naturalists lead tours into habitats of 88 resident orcas; Friday Harbor port call lets sightseers browse museums and seafood restaurants.
About This Deal
Many scientists believe that whales will eventually leave the ocean, whether by squeezing into rivers or evolving into blimps. See the ocean's biggest stars while you still can with this Groupon.
$44 for an All-Day Island and Whale-Watching Tour ($88.50 Value)
For the company's signature tour, sightseers board the Glacier Spirit at 9 a.m. to travel across the San Juan Islands and into the habitats of orca whales. An onboard naturalist narrates the ocean-bound adventure, dishing out facts on the area's 88 resident orcas. Then, the boat docks at Friday Harbor. There, passengers can browse local shops, learn more about orcas at the town's whale museum, or lower their mouth's anchor into ocean cuisine such as clam chowder. Finally, boats leave port in search for more marine animals—including sea lions and humpbacks—before arriving back at Port Townsend by approximately 4:30 p.m. Tours begin May 11.
Need To Know
About Puget Sound Express
For the Hanke family, it seems like Puget Sound Express has always been part of their lives. Raised in the Puget Sound his entire life, Pete Hanke honed his seafaring abilities alongside his father, Pete Sr. Together, the two started leading weeklong sailing adventures across the Pacific Northwest in 1981 and eventually started whale tours. Today, the business still remains a family affair, with grandparents, children, and grandchildren working side by side. Sherri Hanke, Pete’s wife, feels this is the company's biggest feature. "We have three generations of captains, so there is a wealth of knowledge there."
In addition to their family members, Puget Sound Express's crew is well acquainted with the area's menagerie of whales, which naturalists can identify based on their markings and slick leather jackets. Tours also pass into the habitats of other wildlife, often spotting humpbacks, sea birds, and bald eagles. The Hankes' most popular voyage tours the San Juan Islands, pausing at the fishing village of Friday Harbor. According to Sherri, this region is well known for its weather. "We refer to it as the Blue Hole, because it is like this circle of sunlight. It could be raining in Seattle and extremely sunny here."
The Hankes take adventure-seekers out on the M.V. Glacier Spirit, a modern, 70-seat vessel with open-air viewing decks and large windows allowing sightseers unencumbered views. Additionally, an on-board hydrophone listens in on whales' vocalizations to see which songs are currently stuck in their heads.