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“Great outing with knowledgeable Naturalist.”

Deer Harbor Charters
Ranked #3 of 16 Tours in Orcas Island
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Deer Harbor Charters on Orcas Island was established in 1988 by well known local captain and naturalist Tom Averna, making it the longest operating whale watching company in the San Juan Islands. We are the exclusive whale watch company operating from Rosario Resort and Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas Island. Our boats provide and excellent viewing platform for an experience you will never forget. Our captains and naturalists are island residents and trained at what they do.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase
Columbus, Ohio
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Great outing with knowledgeable Naturalist.”
Reviewed August 16, 2012

We had a wonderful time on our Whale watching trip and saw many whales who were feeding and traveling. Our naturalist was extremely well informed and we learned a great deal on the trip. It was chilly but they had blankets for us. I recommend this outfit. Be prepared for a longish outing. Bring your lunch, not just snacks. They have a few snacks and drinks for sale, but you'll want a meal. We were out for over three hours. Great trip!

Visited August 2012
Thank Eghow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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190 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Iowa City, Iowa
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Awesome cruise with knowledgable staff”
Reviewed July 21, 2012

Went on Deer Harbor Charters to watch Orcas yesterday. Weather was cool but not raining at the time. We went out and followed a smaller family of Orca to an area that they are known to fish in. While there we saw 4 breeching whales and then a huge group came right up along the boat!! And swam right past us. Absolutely the highlight of the trip.
The boat was spacious and not packed with people. We saw several other boats that had way more people on them, which would have made the watching difficult. On our boat it was easy to move from one side to the other to get a good view.
Natalie, our naturalist, was great. She was very knowledgable about the Orcas, their habits and individual pod members.
Nate, the captain, was a deft driver and managed to keep the boat fairly steady even though we were in choppy water.
We took our 2.5 year old on the boat. Since the main cabin is enclosed, I wasn't worried about him falling out. The windows were low enough that he could easily see what was going on in the water. On the way back to harbor he asked if we could see the whales again!
Highly recommended.

Visited July 2012
Thank Earlham99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spokane, Washington, United States
1 review
Reviewed July 20, 2012

We have gone on whale watching tours in the past, but our experience with Deer Harbor Charters surpassed them all. We were on one of their smaller boats, which turned out to be a blessing, everyone gets a great view. On our trip out we were offered individual blankets to keep our legs warm, binoculars to see across the waters. Our guide was so informative, she is a local high school science teacher. Then there came the whales. WOW! The were amazing creatures. Our guide saw a whale breeching and said get your cameras ready she will do it again. And that is exactly what happened. My daughter had our camera and shot the most beautiful pictures of this whale jumping (I believe the whales name was Spike). Deer Harbor thanks for such an amazing experience for my family!!!

Visited June 2012
Thank Jody B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grosse Ile, Michigan
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“The right choice for a whale watching cruise!”
Reviewed July 18, 2012

We took this trip on a cool and blustery day in early July. When we got about 4 or 5 miles out, other whale watch boats were in the same area, and we were VERY glad we chose this one. This company will tell you that their boat will legally hold more than they will take (I believe they will hold 40 and they only take 25-something like that). I did not realize what an advantage this is until we saw a larger boat with 3 and 4 people abreast each craning their necks to try to see the whales while everyone on our boat had a "front row" view. In addition to that, we also saw 2 boats with no real cabin. It appeared that all passengers were issued foul weather gear and sitting in open boats with no way to escape the elements. Our boat had a nice enclosed cabin with a head and tables and benches to sit at if we wanted to get in out of the weather. We said several times how happy we were to have made this choice as it was quite cold and I was thankful to get inside occasionally to warm up. We also had a naturalist aboard (Nan?) who was quite knowledgeable about all the animal life around (not just the whales). We saw bald eagles, sea lions, 2 species of non-indigenous wild animals on one of the islands (Spidei?) that were brought in from other countries, plus she knew about the landscape. She was EXTREMELY patient with the kids on board--loaning them binoculars, answering their questions, etc. We found out she is a teacher so that may explain her patience. If you have children, I would definitely recommend this trip.
The trip was advertised as 3 hours, but unlike some trips we have taken, because we were following a pod of whales, it ended up to be more like 3 1/2 hours. Our captain spotted several groups and we followed them around. This was not just a "one and done" kind of trip.
It seems that all the whale watching boats were in the same area; they even communicated with each other, so I believe you would probably see the same thing on almost any trip from this area. The big question would be the comfort of the boat, friendliness of the crew, information of the naturalist, and effort to make this trip an awesome one. Therefore, I would choose this company again!

Visited July 2012
1 Thank momcop
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
“Amazing Experience and Exceptional Crew!”
Reviewed July 11, 2012

Wow... Went on a charter out of the Rosario Resort on July 2. The crew included Captain Peter and naturalist Trey. We told our boys that we may see an orcas tale or two but nt to expect to see any breaching... We were wrong! We were so fortunate to see the J-pod and many orcas! It was as if Trey said, "cue the orcas! " when we arrived at the salmon bank area. They were able to get us close enough to take amazing photos and see over 20 breaches! With their experience and knowledge, they create a once in a lifetime experience. They are dedicated to giving you an exceptional experience and truly love their job!!

Thank Vbcassfam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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