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“A Must - See!! Fun!”

Deception Pass Tours
Ranked #1 of 2 Tours in Oak Harbor
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level Contributor
112 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“A Must - See!! Fun!”
Reviewed January 28, 2013

This was one of the best tours we took in Washington State! Loved it! Head north of Oak Harbor about 5 miles to the Ice Cream shop!! BEST portions! Wonderful staff! Ask for entertainment...it is part of your purchase! Enjoy!

Visited July 2012
Thank disney_fam_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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203 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Whidbey Island
Level Contributor
123 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
“Not worth the money”
Reviewed October 13, 2012

We had put off going on the Deception Pass tour for a couple of years. We, along with another couple decided to do it, finally. Our first disappointment was being ripped off having to pay a fee, two fees, two cars, to park where the boat is, in the State Park. We would have gone in one car, we had no idea. I don't mind helping the parks, and have paid that fee to have a picnic at Bowman Bay, etc. Put $10.00 onto the $21.00 tour fee, and It Is Not Worth It. We putted out, sat in the water awhile while the guide told us about Paul Allen's Island being for sale, who cares?
We sat and wasted time, everyone on the boat was wondering what we were doing, then we headed back. We had never been under the bridge, so that was interesting, along with the caves, but we won't take the tour again. Why can't people park just outside the State park line and walk a few feet to the dock? It can't all be private parking at Coronet Bay. This must be a deal with the Park.

Visited July 2012
5 Thank Arline S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Deception Pass Tours”
Reviewed September 13, 2012

What a fun time! Great tour under the bridge, interesting history of area, open boat great for views and photos, and fun & friendly staff/guides.
It is just a short 1 hour tour through the passage...but very enjoyable and reasonable in price.
We will be taking out of town visitors on this tour for sure!

Visited September 2012
3 Thank MaryAnnMac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
136 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 147 helpful votes
“Very Disappointing - don't do the whale watching tour”
Reviewed August 26, 2012

I hate to write a poor review for something, but rarely - RARELY - does my entire family come away so disappointed from an outing. I read RexTak's review and it is quite accurate if you are doing the one hour, $21 Deception Pass tour - but please don't waste your money booking the Whale Watching tour at $89 - it is quite inferior to other whale watching tours in the area (Mystic Sea is a great one).
Our group included two grandparents, two parents and three teens (one is 20 actually). We were going on a family outing and the only saving grace was that we got this as a Groupon for $44 each. This does not include tax or the $10 parking fee the others mention in their review. They offer a $5 per person insurance deal so if you don't see a whale you can come back again - so now we were in for $375 (for what would have been over $650 without the groupon) The retail price for adults was listed at $89 - and had I paid that I would have gone back and complained in person.

We had gorgeous weather and calm water.... thank goodness...if it were foggy or rainy I cannot imagine how bad this would have been. The boat is open and has chairs in groups of 3 seats on each side with an aisle down the middle. The seats are first come first serve, so the first row goes quickly. I am assuming those seats are much better as they are behind a "windsheild". With our group of 7 we had to spread out a bit. The seats on the side have an unobstructed view, but are FREEZING. The wind in your face, ears and especially eyes (if you don't wear glasses) had us with tears streaming down our faces. They offer you jumpsuits at the check in shop - and for goodness sakes, WEAR THEM! Half of our group did, and even with them on if you were in the last few rows on the water side it was very uncomfortable. That said, in the middle you had an obstructed view but it was much warmer. And if you get one of the 6 coveted first row seats even better.

We left the dock at 9:30 and were told we would be back between around 12:30. Three hours of whale watching, we were SOOO excited!!! We have taken other whale watching tours in the San Juans (mystic sea is great)... and thought we were prepared. Well, first they slowly take you through the pass, which is quite beautiful, and point out some things (as mentioned by RexTak). But of course, we are excited to get in the open water and look for the whales. We stopped and looked around for about 5 minutes in one spot... then zoomed to another (that is when the boat gets very cold and noisy, and not at all fun). We arrived at another spot and after about 7 minutes had amazing fortune and saw a minke whale. These can be elusive, so it was very lucky. These guys are solitary with no pod, just one whale with no breaching, fin or tail slaps or anything like we've seen with Orcas. Yes, I know it is nature, and you're not supposed to get too close and all of the rules. We appreciate and obey those rules and are not crazy boaters trying to pester the animals. So don't peg me as "one of those people" who doesn't "get it".... we were expecting a 3 hour whale watching cruise - and on other ships that is what you get. You boat around and communicate with with other ships and hope to find the loveliest creatures and enjoy the day.
So, we bobbed around and saw a very tiny slip of his black back come and go for about 20 minutes. Binoculars would have been good... we had an excellent camera with zoom and still barely got much of a look.
Anyway - that was it.
Yes, seriously, that was it. It was 10:22am and he said, "Well, that was lucky and we'll head for home now". SERIOUSLY???? We were floored! He took such a leisurely pace getting out there, and we stopped once on the way out for 5 minutes, looked for 5+ minutes before bobbing around for 20 minutes to look at the Minke... so we would easily be back to the dock by 10:50am.
This is not what we expected at all. We thought we would go to another spot and look for the orcas or other whale. Grandma asked the skipper about this and he said there was a large pod of Orcas about 60 miles out heading toward us. They knew about them before we left (when we were still at the ice cream hut at 8:30 in the morning) this pod was already being tracked. This is their full time job, tracking the whales, and many of the companies work together to radio each other on sitings etc. So they keep an eye on them pretty closely.

*****This is a quote from their own website ***"Deception Pass Tours has the crew and the right equipment to get you with these whales quickly, and safely. In fact, our vessel the ‘Island Whaler’ is a high-speed, catamaran style jet boat that will travel at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. This means, you get on scene with the whales faster, and you get to visit with them longer."

So basically, we could have left the dock at 9:30 and been at the confirmed Orca pod site at 10:50am. We could have watched them for 20 minutes and then headed back and been back by 12:30pm. They were even said to be coming in our direction, so the times may have even been shorter.

Even if we DIDN'T try to see the big pod of Orcas, we didn't try to find any other Minkes or grays either. We just dawdled on our way back and saw some sea lions, some birds, and heard about the prison on the hill (as mentioned by RexTak).

This was very much the $21 tour with an extra 30 minutes tacked on for "whale watching". Definitely not a 3 hour Whale Watching excursion. For $25 it would have been fine... for $89 (plus tax) you are getting majorly ripped off.

As a high end touch, they did pass around an already opened container of red licorice where you could grab a piece... of course Red Licorice had been on the news as being "recalled" during the week... so grandma made sure none of us dared sample what was left in the bucket.

We have done Island Adventures and Mystic Seas and really enjoyed both. We were fooled by the Deception Pass Tours website proclaiming that with the smaller, faster boat you would be closer and have more time with the whales. This was SOOO not the case. Both of the other boats are comfortable, you actually have better views being higher off the water and it is comfortable and has many amenities (like hot chocolate or coffee) and is not freezing.

DON'T waste your money - a seriously amateur way for them to triple their profit on their basis tour.

Visited August 2012
19 Thank SeattleTravelmomm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DeceptionP, Owner at Deception Pass Tours, responded to this review, September 3, 2012
Whew. This review hurts. It's especially hurtful because as owners, one of our guiding principles in our business comes from our faith- to treat others how we want to be treated. We wish that you would have given us an opportunity to make it right with you on the day of your tour- because we definitely would have- especially since we were both working that day! We don't want anyone that comes into contact with our business to leave with such a strong negative feeling for us- in fact, we work really hard to make sure that each customer leaves happy- to the very best of our ability. Since we weren't given an opportunity to say it on the day of your tour, we'll say it now, "We are sorry that this happened to you, and thank you for letting us know so we can make it right in the future. Hopefully, we can have your forgiveness."

We would like to take a moment to clarify a couple of things in your review so that other customers have a better understanding of the issues you brought up:

1. We would simply never serve recalled licorice. In fact, the licorice recall is for black licorice and in small packages- not the licorice we served on the boat. But, we're glad grandma kept you safe, because safety is our top priority!

2. Unfortunately, none of the whale watching companies saw more whales than we did on their morning tours the day of your trip- even our good friends at Island Adventures and Mystic Sea who belong to our same group of Whale Watching Businesses. Our crew was on the phone for 2 hours before leaving the dock- communicating with a network of over 300 spotters on land to determine where the whales were that morning. While passengers may not realize it, the crew also spent the rest of the morning on the radios with other boats to find whales. Believe us, our crew does NOT want to disappoint- and they work really hard to get our passengers to the whales. Luckily, we DID see whales on our tour- but unfortunately we cannot ask our Minke Whale friends to be exciting to humans on command. Other passengers from your same tour wrote us thank you notes because seeing Minke Whales was very exciting for them since it is so rare. As for the time you spent on the boat, our coast guard record states that you left the dock at 9:00am and returned at 11:45am. This is 2 hours and 45 minutes-which is within the 2.5-3 hours we advertise.

3. We clearly specifiy what time to arrive, how to dress, and information about parking etc. on an email and verbally over the phone for everyone who makes a reservation. Sometimes, people do not understand where to find the information on the PDF that we send, so we welcome any questions.

Thank you for your comments, and we encourage you to continue supporting other whale watching businesses in the Salish Sea- because by viewing whales in their natural environment, you prevent the growth of businesses that keep whales in captivity.

Brett & Terica
Deception Pass Tours
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
69 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Fun time on the water”
Reviewed August 23, 2012

The boat tour was very informative. We enjoyed the views from the water. We were lucky enough to see harbor seals, harbor porpoises and a bald eagle. Our guides made the tour fun. As for parking, we bought the parking pass since we planned to visit several state parks during our stay, so that was not a problem.

Visited August 2012
3 Thank TravelingNana46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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