Orcas Island Washington - San Juan Islands WA


Orcas & Killer Whales

One of the main attractions in the San Juan Islands other than its stunning natural beauty, is its resident population of orcas or killer whales.     People come from around the world to see these magnificent  mammals as they go about their daily lives feeding, frolicking, & sometimes putting on a show by leaping into the air.  If you imagine yourself going on a whale watching tour to have an orca swim over for you to give it a hug,  You might ought to have more realistic expectations about your first orca encounter.

While it would be exciting to see the Orcas close up,  you are required to keep a distance of at least 100 yards, and it's a good idea to stay away even further.  If you truly care for these beautiful animals you should give them a break and leave them alone as much as possible.   Sometimes when you stop your boat away from a pod of orcas to drift they will get curious and swim over to check you out as if to thank you.     If you're fortunate enough to have one visit your boat you shouldn't attempt to pet them.   Instead, just keep taking pictures until your camera runs out of film or memory card is full.  This is a special moment you'll want to remember. 

Killer Whales  

There is no record of any human ever being killed by a killer whale in the wild but that doesn't mean it's never happened and there's always a first time for everything. Orcas are very large large and curious and if they were to play with you and your kayak or boat  they could accidentally hurt you unintentionally.  Orcas are wild animals and should be respected and left alone just as you would a mountain lion, bear, or any wildlife. You would even have to fear your own house cat if it were the size of a Killer Whale.

No Boat Zone For The Whales

If you are whale watching from a private boat you'll want to be aware of the voluntary no-boat zone on the west side of San Juan Island from Mitchell bay to the north down to false bay near the south end of San Juan Island.   While this is considered a no-motor boat zone, you may want to also avoid it altogether even if you have a kayak or rowboat just to give the whales some peace and quiet. After all, the orca could decide it's too busy and dangerous to raise their young here anymore and go elsewhere and there's nothing stopping them.  

The no-boat zone includes the coastline offshore from Lime Kiln state park which is so popular with whales that's  also known as whale watching park.     If you want to watch whales without bothering them you should consider doing it ashore by visiting Lime Kiln state park. 

What Is A Lime Kiln?

Lime Kilns were used to breakdown limestone and make quicklime which has many uses including, making mortar for bricks when building brick walls and buildings, flux in iron and steel making, and farmers sprinkle it on their fields to break up clay soils for better drainage. 


Limestone or chalk, has been mined for hundreds of years around the world and at one time, the lime kilns on San Juan island were the largest and busiest west of the Mississippi. Workers would fire up the kiln flames below and place the limestone in the upper oven to heat up and decompose into pure lime.    Many of the brick buildings still standing in Seattle today were made using  mortar and lime processed in the lime kilns in Roche Harbor and what is now Lime Kiln State Park.

The following photos were taken off San Juan island Washington.





Bellingham Fairhaven Red Brick District Home To Whale Watching Tours And Alaska Marine Highway Ferry System Terminal