What to expect
- Enjoy 3 hours of birdwatching on the vibrant Protection Island
- Look for puffins, rhinoceros auklets, glaucous-winged gulls, pigeon guillemots and more
- Bring your camera and get shots of the birds diving into the water, carrying fish in their beaks, or flying
About this Activity
The island is only a short ride away from Port Townsend, and visited by many looking for a glimpse of the elusive tufted puffin.
While there's no guarantee that you'll see the puffins, chances are very good you'll spot some incredible nesting birds, including rhinoceros auklets, double-crested cormorants, pelagic cormorants, and so many more.
Note: And if you bring your camera, you just might shots of the birds carrying small fish in their bills, swimming, flying or diving before your three hours are up. Happy birdwatching!
|Price||$125.00 per guest|
|Duration / Session||3 hours|
|Rating||50 positive reviews|
sharednw .Island Bird Migration Cruise April 15, 2017
Just returned from a super 3 day tour from Sequim, WA to Roche Harbor, WA. What a fun and educational trip with a wonderful crew who took good care of us. The best part was watching orcas on both the trip to Roche and the trip back home. We also saw a number of eagles, sea lions feeding, seals, and many beautiful birds which were identified for us. Roche Harbor is a lovely resort and on the National Historic Register, a must do if you are on San Juan Island.
Kimberly G.Gray Whale Tour (Seattle/Edmonds) March 30, 2017
We had a great time at the gray whale watching tour last weekend. The check in process went very smoothly and we boarded the boat about 15 minutes later.
The naturalist was very nice and had a lot of knowledge about the whales we were going to see. About an hour into the journey we started to see some spouting and the captain stopped the boat. There were 3 gray whales in the area. Two of them seemed to be traveling together and one was off by himself. I felt like the captain gave us plenty of time to spot them and slowed the boat when they were near.
On the way back to Port Townsend we also spotted a Stellar Sea Lion that had temporarily beached himself on a buoy. It was a pretty cool sight as well. We also ended up coming across a humpback whale which was very close to Port Townsend. They said it was the first of the season. Unfortunately I just read that this whale passed away this week but it sounds like they sometimes come so near to the sound to pass away.
Overall it was an amazing trip and we had a very fun time! I think the pricing is a little on the high side but I would recommend it and I would do it again in the future.
Ken W.Island Bird Migration Cruise March 18, 2017
Went out for a rainy Saturday. It's Washington. Got some neat sites on the way to see the whale like seals, birds and orientation. Probably a 2+ hour ride to the Everett are. Not much time spent outside, too rainy breezy. Naturalist knew his stuff. Captain maintained the ship well. Finally after 3 hours and a little help from another whale watching boat, we found the whale. Watched him surface about ten times that's it. Long trip back, tough. No pictures taken.
Mcube84 .Island Bird Migration Cruise March 14, 2017
I had a few hours to kill while staying in Seattle, so I headed up to Edmonds for the 2-hour whale-watching tour with Puget Sound Express. I'm SO glad I did! The crew was knowledgable, friendly, and clearly passionate about their work and the area in which they live. There was so much more to see than just whales - birds, seals, porpoises, all set against the dramatic background of conifer-spiked cliffs and distant snow-capped mountains. We were lucky enough to spend a long stretch of time watching two beautiful gray whales interact in one of the inlets, and the naturalists taught us a lot about the animals, their behavior, and their physiology. They also served warm, homemade blueberry buckle on board, which really emphasized the family-run nature of the business :) These guys work hard to find the whales, and they're very good at tracking them down. That said, although seeing the whales was a real treat, I swear I would have had a wonderful afternoon even without that. Can't recommend this experience enough!
dogzrule .Island Bird Migration Cruise January 3, 2017
I enjoyed the cruise to Protection Island - it was a unique opportunity to get up close to this refuge island- the highlight was spotting an elephant seal - he wasn't doing much of anything, but seeing this huge mammal was exciting. The bald eagles put on a good show - hovering, diving and hunting for fish?, ducks? - we didn't see them catch anything, but it was a thrill to see this behavior as I've never seen a bald eagle hover. The naturalist added his knowledge of sea birds, island history, and quips plus there were Port Townsend Marine Science Center people there too. Weather was cold, damp, cloudy, but that didn't stop our enthusiasm! Great trip!
kris3315 .Island Bird Migration Cruise October 19, 2016
The first time we went out of Port Townsend and the weather was iffy. Captian Trevor was awesome and explained that it may not work out as the wind was really picking up.(there was a storm warning later in the day). We ended up heading back after about 45 minutes. But, we were offered vouchers or a full refund. We chose the vochers and booked for 2 days later.
Second trip was out of Edmonds and with Captian Christopher on the jet powered catamaran, which made for such a smooth ride. This trip was more expensive but we didn't pay any more, because of the voucher. Within 15 minutes we found our first Humpback in the Sound! Then 3 others!!! After spending time with them, following them and getting lots of pictures and videos, we headed off to find the Orcas. We never found them but, cruising the Strait of Juan de Fuca was amazing. We saw seals and sea lions, birds and learned much about the whole area.The veiw of the mountains was spectacular! Thanks to Wendi and Christopher for serving us and narrating the trip, it was very informative! We will never go with another company and will come back as soon as we can! Need to find the Orcas!
kalapointofcontact .Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) October 5, 2016
Thanks AGAIN for the great whale watching trip out of Port Townsend, my hometown.
This trip, I some CA friends with me, and you did not disappoint AGAIN. We headed well into Canada this time for Minke and Orca spotting.
I have been on many, many trips, including a three day through the San Juan Islands, Christmas lights in Seattle, La Conner, lunch in Friday Harbor and just plain old whale
watching. This company has NEVER let me or my guests down in anyway.
ucillinicat .Gray Whale Tour (Port Townsend) September 23, 2016
The entire experience was truly outstanding. The crew took us to locations that enable us to learn about orca history, behaviors, and sightings that I will hold and share for a lifetime. We listened and saw orca pods, minkes, and a grey whale along with sea lions.
The boat ride was smooth. The captain did a marvelous job taking us to locations where these killer whales feed, and live.
Highly recommend this unforgettable experience. -- NN
Telindian .Island Bird Migration Cruise September 13, 2016
What a treat! The catamaran is beautiful, Captain Brian and his mates were very friendly. The education provided while we travelled to our destination was awesome. We saw humpback whales, porpoises, seals and all sorts of water fowl & birds. A wonderful splurge!
pullthestring01 .Port Townsend to San Juan Island Ferry (One Way) September 13, 2016
Boat is very clean and well-kept, run by a professional and friendly crew. It's high speed capabilities (they boast they're the fastest "ferry" on the Puget Sound, which I believe) was especially useful during our trip as we experienced some heavy fog and the boat was able to "speed" through it fairly quickly so that we could further north than usual (off the coast of Vancouver) to be able to see some Humpback whales. Otherwise we wouldn't have seen any. Regardless of the whale-watching, the trip itself contains beautiful scenery and views. The on-board Naturalist was continually providing info about the area and the animals in view. Lastly, the fresh blueberry pastries baked on board during the trip were very yummy!!
Danny W.Whale Watching Tour (San Juan Island) September 12, 2016
We were on our honeymoon and wanted to go west and visit Seattle. We also wanted to go on a whale watching day trip and went on the internet and discovered this company. We booked the trip online and prepaid and had our tickets in hand. We showed up at 8.30 am and they took off at 9.00 am as promised. They guaranteed we would see whales and the captain found of some whales, sea lions, etc. We have lots of pictures to show for it. I would so go there again if I was a local, but being an east coast person, we savored the moment and had a great time. Please check it out.
Melody S.Whale Watching Tour (San Juan Island) September 11, 2016
We could not of asked for a better experience on our first whale watching trip. Captain Rob and Levi were knowledgable and friendly making the experience so enjoyable. We saw minke whales, seals, porpoises, sea lions and orcas! Friday Harbor was so fun to visit and Mother Nature gave us blue skies. Don't miss this experience as it will create memories to treasure.
keitha83 .Whale Watching Tour (San Juan Island) September 11, 2016
We had a great time on the full day whale watching excursion with Puget Sound Express! The captain and his crew were very knowledgeable, professional, friendly, and made us feel very comfortable. They actually seemed like they enjoyed what they were doing. It also seemed that our captain really knew how to navigate to find the best spots to see whales, sea lions and birds. By the end of our day, we had seen orcas, minke whales, a California sea lion, harbor seals, and a dolphin. The boat was extremely comfortable and very accessible to all 40+ passengers...BIG windows and plenty of room to maneuver around. Such a fun day! We highly recommend Puget Sound Express for a great whale watching experience!
Al P.Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) September 1, 2016
We joined Capt. Trevor and First Mate Christopher for a 4-hour whale watching tour out of Port Townsend and had a wonderful time. They put us on multiple pods of transient orcas (killer whales) and then found two humpback whales, too. Captain and crew welcomed guests onto the bridge and were entertaining and informative. We hit the jackpot the day we went out, but even though you might not always see whales on a given trip, they try hard and you get to enjoy a nice cruise in any event.
Julie V.Gray Whale Tour (Seattle/Edmonds) August 30, 2016
This was a great tour. The boat itself is very nice, the guides were knowledgable, scenery was lovely, and we saw orcas and a grey whale.
Deboramar .Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) August 22, 2016
We took an afternoon whale watching tour and while we saw no whales, will book again next time in Seattle. The crew was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. The trip was educational, exciting, and fun. Maybe most importantly, Puget Sound Express honored their guarantee fully. Kudos to you!
sarahsab269 .Puffin Cruise August 11, 2016
The day, Wednesday, August 10, was glorious, the humpbacks were frolicking, the eagles and puffins sunning themselves, and the elephant seal was relaxing. Captain Brian, Wendi, and Justine were welcoming, professional, and happily did all they could to make our trip very special. They succeeded!
Susan W.Gray Whale Tour (Port Townsend) August 9, 2016
Ask to see Minor Island! Bring or borrow their binoculars. We had an amazing trip. We saw 2 transient Orca pods, both obviously hunting mammals. We saw one pod of at least 6 spread out to surround something we couldn't see. We saw lots of blowing and dorsal fins swimming side by side. Several whales came up to our boat, and I could see one back flip away from the boat. In another pod, the whale that alarmed me had what appeared to be a 6 foot gray dorsal fin swimming very close to the shore of an island. It looked to be as tall as my husband. I thought it was safe to swim close to shore. There were other large dorsal fins by that island swimming parallel with the huge fin.
At Minor Island we saw harbor seals, a puffin, an eagle alarm a bunch of gulls and then strike the classic bald eagle profile. We also passed through a flock of rhinoceros auklets fishing. They flew alongside our 40 mph boat and then crossed in front of the boat. There were harbor porpoises all over the place. We even witnessed a variety of birds floating in a circle while the water churned below them. The naturalist on board called it a bait ball caused by underwater activity that would drive the fish up to the waiting birds.
My two complaints were that the boat was loud to my ears as it had 4 jets and the viewing deck was too small for the number of people on board. So I did not get a good view of the whales that approached the boat. The people that had that view did rotate back and I had a good view the rest of the trip. However, I couldn't get over how much wildlife we were able to view in one trip.
mark6101 .Gray Whale Tour (Seattle/Edmonds) August 8, 2016
Had a great day Aug. 8th got to watch the whales for over 4 hours right in front of Seattle. What a great day. The sun came out just when we got on the boat. The team of workers were great. Thank you all. My son & I had a great day. I just couldn't get a Grey Goose Martini to really enjoy the show. Just joking with the galley server.
Book this trip it was great.
sandyd22 .Island Bird Migration Cruise August 8, 2016
I took the Glacier Spirit on a 3-hour "puffin cruise" with Puget Sound Express. Cannot imagine a more knowledgeable skipper and guide. They knew where to find the great birds (and mammals) that make this area special and they made certain everyone got the full experience. Every person.
Eileen B.Puffin Cruise August 8, 2016
This is my third trip. The volunteer naturalist and spotters were very engaging and informative. There were a number of serious birders (I am not) engaged in serious bird talk. That added to the experience. Saw two Puffins up close. Eagles, seals and elephant seals!
There is always something new
This trip I took my daughter and 95 yr old mother
Again Trevor was an awesome captain and Kirk was friendly and helpful
Would recommend even if you are not into birds
Traveling19-51 .San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) August 2, 2016
We were foot passengers leaving from Port Townsend to Friday Harbor. Staff was friendly and engaged passengers in conversation, ferry was cleans and there was amply seating. Had a wonderful breakfast cake called Blueberry Buckle. Only saw menke and grey whales....no killer whales. Friday Harbor was a small town that was easy to navigate on foot. Lots of good places to eat.
Foxpaw6227 .Puffin Cruise July 30, 2016
I've wanted to take this 3 hr. cruise out of Pt. Townsend for years - so glad we finally made the reservations and were lucky enough to have a half-filled boat and a GREAT naturalist on Board PLUS two volunteers from the Science Center to help spot the birds. We saw about 5 puffins as we cruised slowly around Protection Island PLUS elephant seals on the beach, marbled murrelets and rhinoceros auklets. Add a little popcorn and visiting with folks on the boat as the big summer sun sets on our beautiful water - lovely.
mkjosen .San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) July 28, 2016
The crew was fun and very informative. The weather and whales were superb. Next year we may buy one way tickets and spend some time on the islands using the WA ferry to island hop.
Nikki B.Port Townsend to San Juan Island Ferry (One Way) July 27, 2016
This was a fantastic tour! What a great option to go whale watching while visiting my sister in Seattle. Previously I had taken the ferry to Friday Harbor in the San Juans, and that made for a long day. This was a great, shorter option! I had my 2 children, ages 9 and 6 with me. The boat was beautiful, and the ride was scenic. We were fortunate enough to see some of the resident orcas during this trip. As a bonus we saw some humpbacks that were hanging around in the area! Top notch crew and captain. The naturalist on board was very helpful. It was a great day we will remember forever!
Allison M.Gray Whale Tour (Seattle/Edmonds) July 21, 2016
In town from the eastside of WA and my mother from Chicago joined us for a week of summer vacation. My mother's favorite thing to do is whale watch and doing it with me and her grandkids was a bucket list item. Puget Sound Express did not let her or us down!! Great trip of whale watching!! We had a 4 different kind of whale sighting trip!! Minke, Orcas, Greys, and a Fin! The boat is top of the line, clean and confortable. Staff is friendly, accommodating and they have a naturalist on board to educate along the way. We will be back!!
Lorrie S.Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) July 17, 2016
This is my 4th whale watching cruise in 3 years. I have been on 3 boats, out of three cities: Port Townsend, Anacortes and twice from Port Angeles. Each trip had pros and cons, ok cons were insignificant. The goal was to see whales, and we did on each trip, Puget Sound Express delivered. They have no control over the feeding migration of whales, but they stay in contact with other boats who share information.
Environmentally they respected laws on distance the boat must remain away from whales.
Watching a fairly small calf breach over and over was a treat. This was a first. We saw orcas and humpback whales.
We took the all day tour that gave us two hours in Friday Harbor for lunch. My husband liked the brief break. I did too, but I would have had all day whale watching!
The boat: was the smallest I have been on for whale watching. I chose it because it was a 15 mile drive versus the other boats which are located 50 miles and about 75 miles. It was not an issue. The trade off was comfortable booths, sturdy rails inside and out, and being invited to take turns in the wheel house!
Assisting staff: excellent!! It is a family business, and feels inviting. They sold a mug with free refills, so now we must return. When we were off of the boat, they washed the mugs. Attention to detail.
Jackets were needed in the morning, but not in the afternoon. Plenty of room to leave on seat.
Not handicap accessible on our boat. Not sure about their other boats. But if one can walk, but not while in motion, your seat gives a clear view.
Knowledgable, caring staff. Thank you!
jfiddle .Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) July 10, 2016
This was an awesome trip! I did the 4 hour trip with Captain Matt! He was fun and made sure that we knew what was going on around us! We saw Harbor Porpoise, Harbor Seals, Humpback Whales, and a Minke Whale. Didn't see any Orcas but that is ok because Minke Whates are my favorite anyway. I would definitely go through them again when I am ready for any other whale watching excursion.
drdropkin .Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) July 9, 2016
We had the distinct pleasure of using this company for a one way excursion from Port Townsend to Friday Harbor with our return to Port Townsend 4 days later.
The outbound trip was calm and peaceful. We were entertained by the ship's captain, Trevor, who highlighted our voyage with interesting facts and pointed out wildlife as we approached landmarks and other islands,
Towards the end of the run we joined a dozen other boats and were entertained by a pod of Orcas that frolicked in the ocean. This delayed our arrival to Friday Harbor for nearly an hour to the delight of all the passengers. The ship finally docked and as arranged, plan to return to Port Townsend after a 2 hour window for lunch and sightseeing.
Our return was scheduled for 4 days later so we disembarked and said goodbyes to our fellow passengers.
On our return trip, we were informed that the seas had been rough on the passage over from Port Townsend and NO whales were sighted. In fact, many of the passengers informed us that the passage was NOT FUN. As we were returning to Port Townsend, our Captain Trevor did all he could to find whale pods but none were to be found. The winds had kicked up the waves and the return was as rough as the outbound voyage.
Upon docking, Captain Trevor apologized for the roughness of the seas and that no whales were sighted. He announced that vouchers would be at the office because these roundtrip customers were denied a viewing of whales. The vouchers were good ANYTIME and never expired. And he also said that they could be sold on Ebay if any of the passengers were not planning on return to the Pacific Northwest in their future. Whale Watching was Guarenteed!
Suzefish_12 .San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) June 28, 2016
We used Puget Sound Express as a one way trip to Friday Harbor as we were already visiting Port Townsend. It is such a great way to go ! We didn't have to drive to Anacortes, wait in lines for the ferry, etc, etc. Not only that, the trip over was awesome ! It was gorgeous, we saw whales - several humpbacks and a fin whale ! The crew was knowledgeable and friendly. Oh and the blueberry buckle was delicious too ! I would HIGHLY recommend this.
Paula B.Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) June 28, 2016
We had an amazing day with Puget Sound Express on Sunday, June 26, 2016. We left Port Townsend and saw a minke whale on the way to Friday Harbor, a couple of hours and lunch in Friday Harbor then we were lucky enough to see 12-15 orcas on the way back to Port Townsend. Whales on both sides of the boat, 3-4 pods - it was awesome. The crew was very knowledgeable and informative and we spent over an hour following the orcas. It was the best whale watching trip we have gone on!
lsroundhill .San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) June 27, 2016
Great tour, friendly and knowledgeable staff, comfortable boat. We had a super time and many whales were found and enjoyed by all. Our tour was a 4 hour one out of Edmonds on a Sunday afternoon which was real easy for us to get to. We even got there early and enjoyed the nearby beaches and ate a sack lunch in view of the ferry action.
NoHomeBase .Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) June 21, 2016
We went on the Puget Sound Express full day trip. It included whale watching and a 2 hour hop off at Friday Harbor. All the staff on the boat were very friendly and helpful. They taught us things about whales and made sure we were comfortable. The captain told some great stories about the area and kept us informed of whales and other wildlife. It was a fun-filled day with several whale sightings - minke and humpback whales. I would take another tour with this company in a heartbeat! We went out of Port Townsend and felt very safe. The company sent us an email with all the details we needed to know prior to departure. The day went from 9am to 5pm.
vangoghbouvier .Gray Whale Tour (Port Townsend) May 18, 2016
Saw two kinds of whales on this trip which was totally awesome. Orca Mom and Baby and two grays feeding. What a great day. Really loved the boat and the convenience of going out of Edmonds. Comfortable boat, knowledgable crew and snacks to buy including the fresh coffee cake that wafts through the whole boat as they bake it in the snack bar. Smooth ride on one of the fastest whale boats on the West Coast which made a two hour tour super fun because we covered a lot of water on our trip. Highly recommend this trip and company. Super fun and easy. Only negative is if the boat is full, there is limited space outside if you see whales for everyone. There is room in the back but has limited sight to the front of the boat if the activity is in front of you. Upside is that there are huge windows in the boat so if you must stay seated, you can see out the sides very well.
Overall great service and we will be going often!!
Ella G.Whale Watching Tour (San Juan Island) May 10, 2016
We really enjoyed our full day excursion to the San Juan Islands. The crew was incredibly courteous and professional. They did a great job of making sure we saw whales and pointing out other wildlife (Bald Eagles, Seals, Dolphins, etc). The boat was extremely comfortable and had plenty of indoor seating so we weren't exposed to the elements all day. Everyone had a great time.
Sara P.Gray Whale Tour (Seattle/Edmonds) April 21, 2016
This is an awesome experience!! We found a group of Orcas & Gray Whales! The scenery was beautiful and it was worth every penny.
Lacey .Gray Whale Tour (Seattle/Edmonds) April 8, 2016
This tour is amazing, I can't wait to go again. The crew was friendly and knowledgeable, the boat was comfy, and the experience of seeing the whales - incredible. I went on the gray whale tour out of Edmonds, and we saw our first whale maybe 10 minutes after we left. It was awesome, and our tour guide was as excited about the first glimpse of whales as we were. I really can't recommend this company enough.
Bennette S.Puffin Cruise October 27, 2015
The boat ride was great, the scenery wonderful and the narrative was informative. The guide was interesting and definitely knew his science. I was disappointed that the puffins weren't out, but almost every species of bird was. The Harbor seals barked ceremoniously as if greeting us. Their large bodies almost covered the entire rock and they glistened in the sunlight. It made us want to reach out and pet them. I was tempted to see if they wanted a novice guide. I could learn and be part of this exciting sea adventure. The day was beautifully sunny. They had snacks and hot coffee, tea and chocolate, plus some soft drinks. There were two stories and the captain was quite an expert at maneuvering the boat as close to shore so we could see the wildlife. Go and have an unforgettable adventure. Do bring warm clothes, jackets in case the wind comes up as they suggest.
Clinton_ILCruiser .Port Townsend to San Juan Island Ferry (One Way) September 17, 2015
First of all. Did all my research and booked the trip online. Received all instructions via email, process was very simple. I wanted to travel to the San Juan islands on a whale watch excursion, however I didn’t have the time to navigate the ferry system from Seattle. This was a good option for us as it helped us use our time in the PacNW area wisely.
We boarded around 2:30 pm from Edmonds harbor on were on our way. Vessel is very clean and speedy. Crew very friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable on the ecosystem. I learned a lot about killer whales(orcas), their habitat, transients vs residents. I did not know the whales in the area are endangered.
Whales were shy, we so only two, however they crew tried to find them(kinda of like fishing, don’t catch them every trip). Orcas move fast and often and hard to keep up with.
Views and scenery are breath taking. We had a great day, weather was great. I would encourage you to go. The wife and I liked it and made great memories. I recommend!!
Lois R.Puffin Cruise August 30, 2015
We are birdwatchers and this was a wonderful cruise for us! It was definitely worth the money we paid. It's a popular cruise, since the tufted puffins are only in the Puget Sound for a few weeks during the summer. Our boat was full, but still comfortable.
We booked our cruise months in advance for August 1st, 2015, although because of the hot summer this year the puffins started breeding earlier. On the way out to Protection Island our tour guide warned us that the puffins were leaving the area and may already be gone, although we were lucky and saw three of them! They were in the water, and easy to see with binoculars. The late-afternoon light accented their natural orange coloring.
The guides from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center as well as the Puget Express Captain were pointing out birds, wildlife and interesting geological features of Protection Island. They used a PA system so we could hear the names of the birds we were seeing whether we were inside the cabin or outside on the deck of the boat.
Some folks in our party stayed inside the boat's cabin during the whole cruise although they could see the puffins and other birds from their seats because the cabin windows are large and clean. In addition, the plush seats are comfortable. There is enough seating inside the cabin for everyone on the boat, although guests are allowed to go out on deck within a few minutes of leaving the harbor, once the boat slows down as we are nearing our destination.
Birds we saw included: tufted puffins, rhinocerous auklets, pigeon guillemots, and bald eagles, as well as glaucous-winged and Heerman's gulls.
In addition, there were dozens of Caspian Terns at a breeding spot that we got to see up close as part of this tour.
We also saw many harbor seals and an elephant seal. At this time of year it's touching to watch the mother harbor seals and their pups playing in the water near the shore.
Kelly S.Whale Watching Tour (Port Townsend) August 28, 2015
We have gone out on the full day tour from Port Townsend to Friday Harbor with PS Express every summer for the last 5 years. We always have a great time. The staff are great at their jobs - very knowledgeable and friendly people. Just listening to their information is a great time. The boat is comfortable and safe and the layover in Friday Harbor is a fun way to spend some time on San Juan island without having to get on a ferry and get there yourself.
I think it is ridiculous that some people give PS Express a bad review because they did not see whales. These whales are WILD ANIMALS people! If you want a guarantee to see a whale, go see a sad captive whale at Sea World. I appreciate that PS Express does not approach and harass the resident Orca whale pods. Instead they hang respectfully back as whales swim by at a distance. On one spectacular trip we were sitting on the stationary boat and the captain was getting information about a pod in the area - when out of the fog an entire pod of whales swam right by the boat! It was incredible - really one of the most thrilling things I have ever seen. But on one of our trips we didn't see anything. No whale, no seals, no birds even...nothing. But it wasn't the fault of PS Express - although they did kindly issue us a voucher to use at a later date.
The point is that these are wild animals that you have may have the privilege (not the right) of seeing - not circus side shows there for your entertainment.
Ketrin C.San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) August 23, 2015
I took the tour out of Edmonds yesterday with my mom and my 4 year daughter. What an amazing day!!! It was the only whale watching tour I could find that left locally and didnt have to include a 90 minute drive and a ferry ride before even beginning the tour which was a huge win when going with a young child. We saw Orca within the first hour and even saw them hunting. The staff was SO attentive and knowledgeable...definately a 5 star experience.
Laura F.Whale Watching Tour (San Juan Island) August 15, 2015
We left out of Edmonds at 2:30PM destination somewhere near the San Juan islands. We were lucky on this trip - about halfway into our journey out the sister ship radioed they had spotted a humpback. We met up in the same area and got to see it for about a half hour before it went down for a deep dive. After that we continued on to the San Juans and came across the K pod who were very playful. Lots of tail splashing and one flip! So cool to see!
The crew was very knowledgeable and friendly. Also in communication with other whale watching boats in order to give you the best chance of seeing some wildlife!
Light refreshments on board (we brought our own snacks), clean bathrooms, ample space to move about the cabin. You can go on the back deck whenever you want (just take a buddy!). They have binoculars you can borrow, which is nice because we hadn't brought any.
Lastly, get the blueberry buckle. Just do it!!
Basailor .San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) August 7, 2015
We booked the Puget Sound Express as a one way ferry from Friday Harbor to Port Townsead. The boat left right on time, them staff was excellent and the condition of the boat was first rate.
Since it is the second part of a Whale Watching Tour they tried to find Whales on the way back but we're not successful. They gave free vouchers to the people who booked round trip so they could come out another time.
As a ferry it is somewhat expensive, especially compared to the Washington State Ferries, but the staff and facilities are excellent. They do a nice job and I recommend the trip.
Pat F.Puffin Cruise August 7, 2015
My trip was an evening tour to benefit Port Townsend Marine Science Center. My 25-year-old daughter accompanied me. She definitely is not a birdwatcher but enjoyed the trip nonetheless, particularly the snack bar. The crew was neat, courteous, efficient and informative. The booth seating was comfortable and offered good views from the comfort of the cabin. Seats were assigned which was fine with me. Everyone found their place quickly, and there was no competition for a space, plus the larger groups were guaranteed to stay together. The few puffins we saw were in the water, but we got good looks. I look forward to future trips with Puget Sound Express.
computerbunny .San Juan Island to Port Townsend Ferry (One Way) August 4, 2015
We had a great time; saw a lot of whales, staff was friendly and very knowledgeable. This company was recommended to us as we did not have a lot of extra time and the boat leaves from a harbor on the mainland so not ferry. Yea!
lov2travel51 .Port Townsend to San Juan Island Ferry (One Way) July 29, 2015
It was so nice to be able to get on this whale watching tour from the Edmonds Marina. It meant I didn't have to drive for an hour and a half to catch a ferry to get to Friday Harbor. The boat left on time and travelled at 35mph over the water to get to where the whales had been spotted. We left the dock around 9am and saw the killer whale pod clear up by Victoria, BC. We were back in Edmonds by 1:30. If I would have gone to Friday Harbor I would not have been home until at least 5pm. The ship was very comfortable and the crew was friendly. There was a photographer on board who offers photos of you trip for sale at the end.
There was a naturalist on board the ship who I found a bit annoying because for most of the trip, we were trying to find whales and she kept talking and talking and repeating herself. Other than that though, it was a great trip. Heads up...bring your own lunch or order it from the tour before you show up at the marina. They only prepare enough lunches for people who order them ahead of time. They do have snacks and drinks available though!
mcarion .Puffin Cruise July 26, 2015
Very nice job! Boat was excellent. Captain did a great job and the crew was very nice and helpful.
We found lots of birds but only 3 puffins.
Not the fault of the crew!
They did a great job!
GJanePDX .Puffin Cruise July 21, 2015
My 14-year-old grandson and I took the Puffin Cruise from Port Townsend. The evening cruise was on a lovely old wooden craft with weather protection for all, as well as space for everyone on-deck as we approached Preservation Island. We saw many puffins in the water, and even more bald eagles on the island. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife, geology and history of the area. A most enjoyable evening!
Kristen B.Whale Watching Tour (San Juan Island) July 8, 2015
This was my first whale watching tour and it was very exciting- We departed out of Edmonds at 9:30am destination San Juan Islands.. Took about 1:15 mins to reach our final destination and it was very foggy and the smoke from the wild fires added to our view ( which was a bummer but was still enjoyable ). Once we reached the San Juans luckily the fog and smoke cleared enough to see the shore and whales..
When we reached the Strait of Juan De Fuca it was very bumpy and I got a little sea sick.. I know for future to take something, or buy one of those bracelets they sell.. We finally got there and we spent about 80 minutes watching about 7 members of the K pod ( couldn't tell from that distance but seemed about right ) from a distance forage for salmon which was really cool. I wish we could get closer, but of course the law is 200 yards away and the crew seemed to even stay a little farther back then that ( its a big boat ) and I respect that ..
I do wish we could have spent more time out of the water, but it does take a while to get out to the bank we were at... We didn't see any other wildlife on our trip but that was due to the fog, smoke and rough seas... My back is a little sore from the bumps we hit, and although it was a fun ride it turned a little wild due to the rough seas and our speed and I probably should have prepared myself a little more,,,
Overall it was a great experience- Friendly staff,, You can bring your own binoculars or they have some on board you can borrow ( but there is no strap so be careful not to drop them overboard lol ).. They have a variety of food and drink for sale.. You will see the whales from a distance unless you are lucky enough that they swim toward you, but regardless its a very nice experience to have :)
Michelle T.Gray Whale Tour (Port Townsend) April 13, 2015
I did a whale watching tour with a group of friends last week with Puget Sound Express and had a great time. The price is a little high but you won't find any better for whale watching tours in the area. We had one of the smaller boats, The Red Head, for our tour because there were only about 15-20 of us and it worked out very nicely. The boat itself reminded me of a cute little diner. It is definitely a casual vibe. The seating is all booths with window views. There are snacks and hot drinks available for purchase. The weather was REALLY cold when we went so we appreciated the availability of hot coffee (Make sure you dress accordingly, btw. The temp on the water is much colder than on land). The blueberry coffeecake that many reviews mention is also delicious and the serving size is about 1/4 of a cake per person so you can definitely split with friend. If there was one drawback to the whole trip, it would be a very small detail regarding food/beverage which is that they were not super clear on prices. A small list of items with prices on each table would be nice.
Outside, there is a deck that goes around the entire boat with plenty of room for all the passengers to stand to see the whales and other creatures. The captain also made the front pit available to 5 passengers at a time which was really fun. He was very knowledgeable about the area, the wildlife, and specifically, the whales. It was gray whale season during our tour but I would like to return to sea orcas in the future. We were out for about 4 hours and had several sightings of "Dub Knuck" the gray whale. We also saw several sea lions. The scenery and whales were absolutely breathtaking and the captain and his assistant were very friendly and helpful. They went out of their way to ensure we had a good time and saw some whales.
Also, the town of Port Townsend is super cute and great for walking around, taking photos, and getting lunch or ice cream if your tour doesn't last all day.