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Will we see whales on the ferries?

Level Contributor
61 posts
31 reviews
Will we see whales on the ferries?

We are taking ferries from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, Friday Harbor r/t to Orcas Island, Friday Harbor to Sidney, Victoria to Port Angeles and Baiinbridge to Seattle. This is all within an 12 day trip. Should I expect to see some whales on these trips, or do I need to book a whale watching tour?

Also, do you think this is moving around too much/too much time spent queing up and travelling on the car ferries:

Seattle 2 nights

Friday Harbor 3 nights with a day trip to Orcas

Victoria 2 nights

Port Angeles 3 nights

Seattle 1 night

Fly home

I have never been to the Seattle area at all.

Thanks for thoughts from the experts!

Renton, Washington
Level Contributor
5,396 posts
1. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

If you see any whales from ferries buy a lottery ticket really fast....the odds are stacked against you. Ferries are intended to take people from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. No diversions. Whale watching tours, on the other hand, are dedicated to going where the whales are, wherever that might be. Take a tour out of Friday Harbor or Victoria.

Poulsbo, Washington
Level Contributor
11,776 posts
8 reviews
2. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

Bob is right about whales. I think that your plan is pretty good. I would do one thing different for sure.mi personally think three nights in Port Angeles is too much. I do not know when you are coming. If you are going to Port Angeles in order to visit Olympic NP I encourage you to spend one night on the Westside of the Olmpics to make the most of your time there and spending less time driving back and forth from Port Angeles. There are some wonderful places to stay closer to places like the Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach or even Lake Quinault and its rainforest.

Eugene, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Eugene, Springfield
Level Contributor
10,074 posts
205 reviews
3. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

Upon reading the heading I just can't resist....

You won't find whales on ferries. They prefer to swim.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
72,860 posts
133 reviews
4. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

I know that you mean 'will we see whales from the ferries?' but my first thought was an orca riding on the car deck on one of the ferries! It just made me smile.

Someone on a Mexican beach destination forum asked about "turtles snorkeling", and of course I pictured a turtle wearing snorkel gear.

I hope you are lucky and see whales! Something like this photo would be so fun


Edited: 02 May 2016, 17:29
Poulsbo, Washington
Level Contributor
11,776 posts
8 reviews
5. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

That photo is off of Seattle with I believe the Bremerton ferry in the backgtpround. Better chance from the ferries further North but would still involve some luck. I commuted on the Bainbridge run (from which the photo could have been taken epwith a big lens) for twenty years. We would see Orcas maybe three times a year.

Sequim, Washington
Level Contributor
72 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

I agree with the previous posts, you would be lucky to see whales on the ferry's, however, after saying that, once last summer on the Port Townsend to Coupeville run (Whidbey Island) the ferry stopped mid run and the captain came over the public address system stating there was a pod of whales just off the port side and we had to stop until they passed, they were about 50 feet from the ferry. Beautiful experience but not a very common sight, and living in Sequim (next to Port Angeles) we travel the ferry quite often.

Level Contributor
61 posts
31 reviews
7. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

We were planning a trip to Hurricane Ridge for hiking one day and we wanted to see one of the stunning Westside beaches another day. Maybe hike around Lake Crescent. We have 2.5 days. So should I drive to the beach on day one , see beach, then do Hurricane Ridge on the next day, sleeping in PA, then Lake Crescent the third and spend a second night in PA?

Which beach town would you recommend for accommodations - can you recommend a hotel/place to stay?

I have reservations in Olympic Lodge in PA - it looked about as upscale as that town has to offer!

Thanks again!

Victoria, Canada
Destination Expert
for Victoria, Port Angeles
Level Contributor
1,491 posts
72 reviews
8. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

Also look at the Red Lion Hotel -- probably not as upscale, but right in the heart of things near good restaurants, touristy things, etc.

I have seen orca from the Coho while crossing the Strait, but only once out of maybe two hundred trips. So a whale-watching tour is in order as bob says.

Beach Towns: look at Kalaloch Lodge www.thekalalochlodge.com/… ... better setting than Lake Quinalt Lodge (or Lake Crescent Lodge) ... would not look at La Push or Neah Bay unless you want to hike out to Cape Alava orCape Flattery.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,947 posts
20 reviews
9. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

Just stay in Port Angeles. You have plenty of time to do what you want to do. I can't believe I am saying this, as I usually have to tell posters that are planning way too much.

Rialto Beach and Second Beach are close enough to each other to visit in half a day. They are 1 hour and 15 minutes from downtown Port Angeles, and the drive takes you right past Lake Crescent. Depending on the tides, why not combine Rialto Beach, Second Beach, and a hike at Lake Crescent on the same day? I have tide tables for the beaches on www.kaleberg.com. I also have time tables for planning day trips while based in Port Angeles on www.visitonp.com. That latter site is in beta test mode still, so it isn't perfect, but you should find it useful.

I can't seem to see where you have told us the month of this visit. It matters for you plans to see Hurricane Ridge. Can you write back with the dates? I can help suggest hikes on Hurricane Ridge, but if your trip is too early in the season, you won't be able to spend a full day there.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
33,562 posts
62 reviews
10. Re: Will we see whales on the ferries?

Whales use sonar to hunt and communicate. Ferries are very noisy boats. Whales need to transit through areas that are ferry routes, but the noise interferes with the business of being a whale and they can't really afford to hang around because they struggle with using their natural sonar to hunt over the noise. The smaller tour boats are usually less intrusive, as well as more flexible to use that same sonar to locate the whale pods so the tourists can watch them.

I think you have a nice plan. I love riding the ferries and I feel it is more than just a mode of transport, its part of the vacation. Yes, there's a lot of waiting time and transit time, but you already know that and so that's what you've planned. Don't forget to allow extra time for the international crossings to and from Vancouver Island. You will need to do your Customs and Immigration processing as part of those trips.

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