Our signature tour, this daylong cruise on the Glacier Spirit combines orca watching with an on-board naturalist, and a tour of the beautiful San Juan Islands. We visit the popular town of Friday Harbor for shopping, island cuisine, and sightseeing.
This San Juan Islands trip is also the official ferry route between Port Townsend and Friday Harbor; we are the only company on the Olympic Peninsula that offers a day-long tour combining whale watching with a port of call on San Juan Island. One way passenger ferry reservations are also available, which is great for arranging for longer stays on San Juan Island.
- Heading to San Juan Island for a kayak tour? No problem. We are happy to transport your kayak on the boat for a small fee.
- Planning to bike around San Juan Island? No problem. For a small fee, we can take your bicycle too!
Want to learn more? Here’s what you can expect:
Check in at the office
30 minutes prior to departure, check in at the PSE Office in Port Townsend.
Board the boat
Right out the office front door, we board the comfy 70-seat Glacier Spirit.
Your safety is our number one priority – once aboard, your captain will tell you everything you need to know to enjoy your trip.
Leaving Port Townsend
The Glacier Spirit leaves Point Hudson in the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend. A great destination for a day, weekend, or longer. Our round trip tour departs Port Townsend at 9am and heads across the magnificent Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the San Juan Islands. Along the way, the natural history and wildlife are pointed out by our trained marine naturalist.
Don’t miss a PSE exclusive – Sherri’s famous blueberry buckle – made fresh daily and available in our galley.
Usually, about ninety minutes into the cruise, orca whales are sighted along the western flanks of San Juan Island. The Southern Resident orcas are actually a large extended family, or clan, comprised of three pods: J, K, and L pods.Within each pod, families form into sub-pods centered around older females, usually grandmothers or great-grandmothers. Both male and female offspring remain in close association with their mothers for life. Each Southern Resident pod uses a characteristic dialect of calls (sounds) to communicate. Certain calls are common between all three pods. The calls used by the Southern Resident community are unlike the calls used by any other community of killer whales. These calls can travel 10 miles or more under water.
Once we have had a wonderful encounter with the orcas, it is time to move into the islands and our port of call, Friday Harbor. This was once a small fishing village that has now grown into one of the Pacific Northwest’s top destinations. Here passengers can browse the many shops along Spring Street and enjoy great local cuisine that the many restaurants have to offer. We spend two hours in Friday Harbor, before heading out again to see more wildlife.
Wildlife on Smith Island
Besides the orcas, there are many other species of whales and marine mammals to show you along the way home. It is not uncommon to see minke whales as well as gray and humpback whales all in one day. Steller and California sea lions dot the many coast lines we pass by. Dall’s porpoises are often found in close proximity to the orca whales and can be seen playing in the bow wake. A special highlight is a stop near Smith Island, home to an amazing array of sea lions, eagles, seals, and other wildlife.
We make it back to Port Townsend by 5pm, making this a great way to combine; your vacation on the Olympic Peninsula, a day in the San Juan Islands, plus a whale watch experience.