Let me tell you about our four hour tour with Puget Sound Express! It was a beautiful day to get out on the water. We boarded down at the Point Hudson Marina, just outside the Puget Sound Express (PSE) office and storefront. We checked in inside, received our boarding passes, and waited for boarding.
Upon boarding, we got a thorough safety briefing from Captain Trevor before heading out to the open sea.
Our sailing was in late July, so pretty squarely in orca season. Naturalist Alex gave us an informational talk as we headed out. He explained that these whale watching trips either begin by going north into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, potentially up into the San Juan Islands, or south, into Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. This trip, we headed south.
Alex explained what kinds of marine life we should look for, including minke whales, porpoises, and even puffin! The whales were a bit shy on this voyage, so we actually went about an hour into Puget Sound, past Seattle! With Tacoma in view, we finally got a glimpse of a small pod of transient orcas.
We saw a pod of 5 transient orcas and were able to watch them for about an hour. There was one adult male with a very tall and straight dorsal fin cruising along with both Seattle and Tacoma landmarks in the background. There were three females taking turns taking the lead, swimming closer to the shore. And there was a calf, close in with mom, keeping up with the others!
After about an hour, and additional sightings of a porpoise, numerous seals, and lots of jellyfish, we began our 1-1.5 hour cruise back to Port Townsend. We collected our Courtyard Cafe sandwiches, bags of chips, and bottles of water and tucked in. About half of all guests in the cabin napped on our way back — whale sightings really take it out of you!
The last time we went whale watching with Puget Sound Express was in 2019 and we were fortunate to watch a pod of transient orcas hunt a seal and share a meal. It was really exciting! This time definitely had less “action” but it’s always an exciting and magical experience to witness orcas in their natural habitat. Spending four hours immersed in the beauty of the Salish Sea, watching the rugged beauty along with developed landscape go by, is always worth it!
Good to know:
You have the opportunity to add-on a sack lunch from Courtyard Cafe at the time of booking. We love Courtyard Cafe and strongly encourage you to do this!
They will provide binoculars and other resources to help you identify wildlife and maximize your trip
There’s no bad seat on these boats - you will stop and get out on deck when observing the whales or other wildlife
Your boat will come equipped with a nice concession stand and complete, comfortable restrooms
Puget Sound Express must follow a strict set of laws, rules, and regulations to protect the wildlife. Please be respectful of the wildlife, staff, and crew