The Center for Whale Research studies the three pods or families of Orca killer whales that live year round in the waters that surround the islands. You can often watch the whales feed and play off the west side at Lime Kilm Point State Park. Several charter companies leave from Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor including San Juan Safaris, San Juan Outfitters, San Juan Island Whale and Wildlife Tours, Western Prince Cruises, and San Juan Excursions. They offer whale watching expeditions with experienced naturalists. Captain Jim Maya and Legacy Charters leave from Snug Harbor on the west side of the Island. The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor offers an excellent primer on whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem.
You can also view the whales from land, if you’re lucky. Because of their feeding patterns, the west side of San Juan Island is the best area in the San Juan Islands to witness the members of the resident J, K, and L pods of Orcas. Spend the day at Lime Kiln Point State Park – the only whale watching park in the world. It is located 9 miles west of Friday Harbor on 36 acres and has over 2,550 feet of waterfront overlooking the Haro Straits.
Orca whales, porpoises, seals, dolphins, and eagles frequent these shorelines during the spring and summer months. Enjoy the hiking trails to lookout points; see the displays describing the abundant sea life; walk the high bank trail to Lime Kiln Lighthouse, which was maintained by lighthouse keepers from 1919 to 1962 to guide ships through the Haro Straits; it is now fully automated.