While whales offer sound relationship advice and make worthy backgammon opponents, they tend to be at their best when swimming freely among the icy-cool waters of the Pacific Northwest. Today's Groupon gets you up close and personal with the beautiful beasts in their natural habitat: for $49, you get to go on an orca whale-watching cruise (an $86 value) with San Juan Excursions, which starts its season on May 1, 2011. The cruise lasts up to four hours and launches from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, located nearly three hours north of Seattle, when you factor in driving and ferrying time on the Washington State Ferry. It is recommended that you arrive at the ferry at least an hour early.
In the summer months, the waters around the picturesque San Juan Islands play home to many wild orcas, as well as sea lions, seals, and more. During the cruise, passengers travel through the spectacular natural beauty of the Canada-bordering strait as a friendly naturalist tour guide points out all the whales, seals, bald eagles, corgis, and blue herons that inhabit the surrounding wilderness.
Your tour will take place aboard the comfortable Odyssey, a 65-foot former Navy search-and-rescue vessel constructed in 1941. Along with two levels, padded seating, an outside deck with covered outdoor viewing areas, and comfortable indoor space complete with a snack bar and cozy seating area, the vessel is equipped with a hydrophone that drops into the water, allowing tour-takers to eavesdrop on the massive mammals as they gossip about what the dolphins wore to prom.
San Juan Excursions
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.
2 Spring St. Landing
Friday Harbor, Washington 98250Get Directions