Despite its close proximity to some the most pristine whale watching territory in the world, there aren’t that many whale watching cruises that leave from the Olympic Peninsula specifically. Whale watching opportunities abound in the area surrounding the San Juan Islands, but the departure points seem to be everywhere but the Olympic Peninsula. However, this makes some sense since the Olympic Peninsula is fairly undeveloped, and in fact it largely cannot be developed because the Olympic National Park stretches over much of the Peninsula. The whale watching cruises from the Olympic Peninsula may be limited, but they certainly aren’t non-existent, and below we detail exactly what cruises are available from this part of Washington.
It is best to think of Washington’s whale watching area as a circle emanating from the San Juan Islands. (Around these islands are where all the killer whales are found, and killer whales are the main reason people go whale watching off the Washington coast.) The Olympic Peninsula is on the southern end of this whale watching zone, and after a fairly quick trip across the Straight of Juan de Fuca, you are among the killer whale waters surrounding the San Juan Islands. While many of the cruises that depart from the Olympic Peninsula do head straight for this area, the waters immediately off the coast are also good for (non-killer) whale watching during certain times of the year. For example, the peninsula is perfectly positioned for the spring and fall gray whale migrations, during which times many of the gray whales deviate from a straight course along the Pacific coast, making their way into the Straight of Juan de Fuca, the Salish Sea, and even down into the Puget Sound.
There are two whale watching departure points from the Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles and Port Townsend, and there is one company in each place. The Puget Sound Express operates out of Port Townsend, and because this is a major whale watching outfit, there are definitely more cruises out of Port Townsend than there are out of Port Angeles. For this reason, it is more likely that you will sail out of Port Townsend if you find yourself on the Olympic Peninsula, and we have already detailed all the whale watching cruises out of Port Townsend. However, during the end of Washington’s whale watching season, from late August till November, there are cruises out of Port Angeles that focus on seeing humpback whales. These cruises are offered by Island Adventures, which also operates out of Anacortes and Everett.
With only two companies that sail from the area, the whale watching opportunities from the Olympic Peninsula are not exactly extensive, but there are still cruises to be taken, particularly from Port Townsend. To get a better sense of the whale watching scene in Washington as a whole, check out our article on whale watching cruises in Washington and the San Juan Islands.