Strait of Juan de Fuca, Washington

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a large body of water about 95 miles that is the Salish Sea's outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The international boundary between Canada and the United States runs down the center of the Strait.

Leaving Port Angeles Harbor, view of observation deck in background

It was named in 1787 by the maritime fur trader Charles William Barkley, captain of the Imperial Eagle, for Juan de Fuca, the Greek navigator who sailed in a Spanish expedition in 1592 to seek the fabled Strait of Anián. Barkley was the first non-indigenous person to find the strait.

Port Angeles Harbor

The San Juan Island, border the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and provide one of the best whale watching opportunities anywhere in the world, offering calm waters (yeah, right!) and a huge variety of wildlife which includes three pods of resident Orca whales.  There are also humpback, minke, and grey whales that frequent the waters surrounding whale watching departure locations.

Entrance to Landing Mall at Port Angeles, Washington

We boarded the Explorer 3 at the Landing Mall in Port Angeles, WA. The Explorer 3 is one of several vessels in a fleet owned by Island Adventures Whale Watching Company.  We were warned at boarding that gale force winds were expected in the strait before the day was over.  Although cold, we decided to go on with our adventure and not reschedule for another day.

The Explorer 3 with dark ominous clouds in background

Our adventure started as soon as we poked our nose into the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the protected harbor of the Ediz Hook. We were immediately on a rodeo ride due to big waves! Shortly into the trip, guests on the upper deck spotted whale spray on the horizon line! 

First sign of whales

We then cruised in that direction toward the rockpile and were treated to a great humpback show with lots of tails and close encounters. Soon the whales started traveling into the swell, so we continued in the opposite direction until a shipping barge reported two more active whales on his port side! 

Humpback whale spy hop

As we approached we could see the whales going crazy with breaches, pectoral slaps, and peduncle throws! It looked like the whales were having a blast playing in the big waves! 

Humpback - Full body breach

Another humpback full body breach

Unfortunately, there was no playing from inside the boat - just sea sick passengers - including us!


Ballard, Washington

Caddo Lake State Park, Texas

Twilight Eagle Santuary, Oregon