Whale watching in the San Juan Islands might sound less than exciting to the unindoctrinated, but it can be an overwhelming and unforgettable experience for those who see a whale for the very first time. Because whale watching is the greatest highlight of any San Juan Islands tour, it is only natural that first-timers become acquainted with the basic essentials of making such ventures a success.
By following a simple list of do’s and don’ts, you will be able to make your first-time whale watching experience a priceless memory.
Do wear comfortable clothes (preferably long-sleeved shirt and long pants)
While you might be more inclined to wear a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, it is much better to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Even though you are heading out to the middle of the sea where the probability of getting wet is high, please bear in mind that you will be fully exposed to the sun and there will be a dearth of trees to protect you from the rays. Even when you apply sunscreen, it is still important to take necessary precautions to prevent damage to your skin. You should also wear a hat to protect your head from the same harmful rays.
Do wear a jacket or a raincoat
The temperature on a boat floating in the middle of the sea can be kind of tricky—while you are fully exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, you are also fully exposed to cooler breezes and the occasional sea spray, which can cast a chill on anyone’s skin.
To protect yourself from the possibility of catching a cold right after the trip, you should wear the necessary protective gear. Though some cruises provide raincoats and jackets, it is safer to bring your own, just in case.
Do wear rubber sole shoes
Rubber-sole shoes don’t slip or dislodge easily, so, it is better to wear them than your usual flip-flops.
Don’t forget your camera or video camera and binoculars
You will certainly want to catch the moment when you finally see the orcas. Just don’t forget to waterproof your gadgets. More importantly, don’t forget to bring extra batteries so that you don’t have to experience the regret of missing your once-in-a-lifetime photo when the whales decide to arrive.
Also, it is advantageous to bring binoculars; not everybody is lucky enough to join a whale-watching cruise where whales swim right next to the boat. There are many other creatures you may be watching and binoculars will certainly bring all wildlife closer to the boat in terms of your vision.
Don’t expect too much from the trip
This might sound like a downer, but you must remember that whales do not keep appointments. Just because you are there doesn’t mean they want to see you or put on a show for you. However, experienced charter boat captains have a knack for knowing where the whales are.
That said, don’t fret. Even without seeing a single whale, the aquatic wildlife of the San Juan Islands is so robust it is almost impossible to not see other interesting animals, such porpoises and Harbor seals. If you are into birds, you might even see a bald eagle soaring through the skies.
The anticipation of encountering whales for the first time is worth the preparation, but at the end of the day, the panoramic scenery of the San Juan Islands will be enough to make the trip worth it.
Whale Watching 101: How To Prepare And What To Expect On Your Victoria Whale Watching Trip, OrcaSpirit.com
5 things to know before you go whale watching, TimeOut.com