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Ferries from Bellingham

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Sydney
posts: 8
reviews: 4
Ferries from Bellingham

Hi, I want to visit this area in late May 2012 and am considering a ferry "cruise". I travel on the CHEAP. I want to see whales and otters in particular. Is the ferry to Vancouver island enough? I'll have about a week. All advice appreciated.

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,765
reviews: 45
1. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

I don't know what you mean by a ferry cruise; they are fairly short rides, from Point A to Point B.

From Bellingham: http://www.ferrytravel.com/bellingham.htm

Are you based in Bellingham for your week?

The chances of seeing whales on a ferry are slim at best.

Otters? River otters are usually near shore, Sea otters are at sea, not often seen. Since the ferries are deep water boats, and they ply the inland sea, you almost certainly won't see otters.

Whales can be seen by charters; these are based in several places:

gonorthwest.com/Washington/Activities/whales…

Adding here: to go on the cheap, don't take a car on the ferries; walk on, take a bus to your next destination.

Why did you mention Vancouver Island?

Edited: 11:17 pm, September 10, 2011
Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,765
reviews: 45
2. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

I just looked in detail at the ferry website I provided, above. It's a terrible design and not particularly user friendly.

But, it got me thinking about your comment "Hi, I want to visit *this* area..." and you combined it with Bellingham and Vancouver Island.

Are you talking about a trip to Alaska?

Sydney
posts: 8
reviews: 4
3. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

Thanks, I'd like to see something of the region between Bellingham and Vancouver Island. (would love to go further north but won't really have time).I'm flying in to Seattle so Bellingham seems the point to catch a boat to somewhere!! I'm finding the ferry timetables confusing and am interested in what other travellers have seen and recommend. I won't have a car. Cheers

seattle
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 14,898
reviews: 83
4. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

you'd be better to take a 'shuttle' to Anacortes and take one of the larger Wa State Ferries towards the San Juan Island

From Bellingham they have smaller boats that go to the islands but not reall a ferry? You'd still have to get to Bellingham

You could also take

clippervacation.com

right from dowtown Seattle and get the same views all the way up. They have internet specials all the time

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
posts: 16,765
reviews: 45
5. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

If you go to San Juan Island (Friday Harbor is the terminal), you could cab or bus to Lime Kiln Point and possibly see Orcas, Harbor Seals (they are ubiquitous), River Otter, and more. Otherwise, take a charter and there are several on SJI. If wildlife is of interest, the island also has Red fox and several bird species, including raptors (e.g., Bald Eagle, often seen at American Camp, southern tip of island).

Bellingham is a nice college town. But, w/o a car, somewhat limited in what you can see.

Have you no interest in seeing the Seattle area?

Certain ferries that go to San Juan Island also go to Sidney on Vancouver Island, if you've an interest in visiting Victoria. Here are two WA State Ferry pages, including the one where you can enter terminals for departure and arrival for the different routes. Read them carefully...

WA State Ferries (Beautiful views, ride at least one, perhaps Bainbridge Island).

For routes, schedules, fares and more - http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

For specific ferry terminal current information -http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/vesselwatch/Terminals.aspx?CFID=46160971&CFTOKEN=50149771

From Seattle, you could (depending on the Clipper schedule) take that to Friday Harbor, perhaps spend a night there). Editing: I see that David already suggested this; I'm now supporting that idea, but again, as with all options, consider the cost.)

Back to your otter search... I'm not being trite, but the best way to see them w/o a car is the Seattle Aquarium. www.seattleaquarium.org/page.aspx?pid=205

Are we getting where you want to be for this trip? What else do you want to do? To see? Have you looked at "Things to Do" and "Travel Guide" for more ideas? You could spend weeks here to see it all.

More questions are welcome.

Edited: 10:23 am, September 11, 2011
Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 3,630
6. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

From Bellingham (walkable from the Fairhaven train station) you could take the Alaska State Ferry north to Ketchikan or Juneau; you'd probably have a decent chance of seeing marine mammals en route. The trip takes a couple of days and you can "camp" on the upper deck if you don't want to pay for a cabin. From either Ketchikan or Juneau you could fly back to Seattle, or just take a return ferry trip.

http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/

Sydney
posts: 8
reviews: 4
7. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

Thanks for all the info. I'm sure its obvious that I am totally ignorant of the area but am fascinated as it is so entirely different to the Australian landscape. I've looked in to the ferries going north (Juneau etc) and it sounds good. Everything is of interest...there are so may possibilities. I won't be there till late May (ish) 2012 but that time will fly. Thanks again.

Washington - the...
posts: 330
reviews: 14
8. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

The ferry out of Bellingham goes to Alaska. Sadly, while we used to have a May - Sept small ship whale tour that went to Victoria (with optional overnight) they have since dropped the Canadian stop and concentrate on the San Juan Islands (still a really great trip). Depending on the year, in May you can often see whales from various vantage points around town no need for a boat trip.

I honestly don't think a ferry to Juneau and return is doable in a week it may be cheaper to just fly honestly. The tickets sell out fast so you might want to keep an eye on them if you decide to do this. If you do a walk on on this ferry you will need to run to get a good spot on the deck to sleep (not all the deck has heat lamps for example).

Bellingham is a great time in the summer (it reminds me of Cairns if that helps), but I agree with others you might have a better options for seeing the wildlife you want if you stick to Seattle.

You can get around Bellingham without a car and a lot of interesting stops are grouped together - so for example you could stay near the University (less expensive hotels/motels) and take a bus to the Fairhaven district or downtown (both near the water).

If you are coming late May (Memorial Day weekend) you may want to time your trip (and make hotel reservations early) because that is the Ski to Sea race. Totally worth the extra train trip (Amtrak from Seattle) up to see the town before going on a small boat whale watch the next day.

Sydney
posts: 8
reviews: 4
9. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

Thankyou so much for all the very helpful info. Now I just have to make up my mind. Happy trails all.

phx
posts: 32
reviews: 95
10. Re: Ferries from Bellingham

I can't seem to find information on the ferry from bellingham to friday harbor. the website is unclear. I don't see Friday Harbor or as an option on the pull down menu.

is it possible to go there and back in a day?