We had a terrific tour with Island Adventures. My husband, our two boys, 13 and 9, and I drove a rental up from Seattle to Anacortes in hopes of seeing Orca whales and boy did we get lucky! We saw a pod of 9 pass within 10 feet of the boat and we were thrilled. The kids will never forget it.
The price was pretty steep but seeing the whales made it worthwhile. Had we not been so lucky, it would have been super sad and the 5 hours would have been a bit too long for the kids (plus the hour and a half drive each way from Seattle). We did also see sea lions, dolphins, several bald eagles and other birds which was nothing to balk at. The naturalist on board was very knowledgeable. We came away with a much greater understanding of the types of Orcas and their behaviors. She gave a very interesting slide presentation on the way back that we all enjoyed. We also appreciated the printed marine life booklet available free onboard. I was glad to hear the captain of the ship communicates with other tour captains to scour the seas to locate the pods as best possible. I was also pleased that they were careful to stay a respectful distance from the whales.
My husband is very prone to sea sickness but did not get sick in these calm waters (he did wear seabands and take a fraction of medicine in case and got a tiny bit queasy). The ship was stable and the captain always warned us when we were going to go over a choppy part of the ocean. I was pleasantly surprised that the food on board was tasty and fairly reasonably priced considering they had a captive audience.
If you go, for goodness sake, don't be an idiot like me and wear shorts! This San Diego girl assumed that if the weather forecast calls for 75 and sunny skies it will be warm enough for summer wear- definitely not!! I nearly froze even inside on a beautiful July day. Wear pants, long sleeves, a jacket, hat and blanket at least! Also, get there early and stake a claim to the inside booth seating. If you don't you are going to have to perch on the edge of an inside seat when you want to warm up. Its too bad they don't have a 'move your meat, lose your seat policy' so everyone can have a chance at the comfy spots. We felt a bit like second class citizens encroaching on first classer's cabin space. Some families even brought snacks and games on board to stay entertained.
We originally were considering taking a 5 hour kayak Orca sightseeing tour. I'm so glad we did this instead as we had to get way out there to see them and there is no telling where they will be each day. I doubt the kayak tours see Orcas very often.
The only negative we could complain about was that the captain announced at the end that tips are not necessary for the crew but appreciated. It was a very good tour but for crying out loud we already paid nearly $100 each! And we tipped them when we purchased food. Two of the crew members were waiting along the dock walkway as we exited and it was a bit awkward. Especially when one started walking along with me and asking how it was etc. Really an unprofessional end to a super professional tour. All in all, we would do it again without hesitation if we are ever in the area again. Thanks Island Adventures for a truly memorable adventure!
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