Pristine San Juan Island, a mere 65 miles north of Seattle, is a haven for wildlife at sea and on land alike. The iconic Orca and impressive Humpback whales along with the mighty Steller sea lions make the waters around San Juan Island their home. The island lies within the Pacific Coast Flyaway, which extends from Alaska to South America, making it a popular stop for migratory birds, like the majestic Trumpeter Swans or a waterdance of Loons. Spring is a marvelous time to see bald Eagles teaching their young how to fly, baby foxes frolicking on the prairie and baby seals waiting absolutely still on a rock waiting for their Mom to come back from dinner hunting.
Please be respectful, keep your distance, keep your dogs on a leash and never feed wildlife.
1. Orcas & Otters at the Whale Watch Park
Lime Kiln State Park with its historic lighthouse, interpretive center and whale watching platforms is one of the best places to see whales from land. The water surrounding the park is very deep, which allows the Black Fish to come in very close to shore to feed. So close, you can even hear them sing and breach, if you're lucky! Walk along the steep shore to find solitude and sit for a while. It’s likely you’ll see an otter going about her business, especially around dusk.
2. Foxes & Seals at American Camp
The American Camp Prairie is home to San Juan Island’s red foxes. They come in all colors and hunt the rabbits which are so prevalent on the prairie. In Spring, while Mama Fox is hunting, the babies play with each other. It’s a sight to behold. Stroll down to the beach and you may even find a totally still seal baby, looking hurt or lost. It is not. It is in seal kindergarten until its mom is back from hunting. It is so important to keep your puppy on a leash to not traumatize those little guys.
3. Osprey & Owls at English Camp
Sheltered and wooded English Camp with its historic barracks, formal English Garden and numerous hikes for all skill levels, sports an Osprey nest you can observe through a provided telescope. Great horned owls are also at home here and are sometimes seen even during daylight.
4. Sea Birds & Sea Lions at the Lagoons
The north side of the American Camp Peninsula features three lagoons so rich in seabirds that you almost don’t need binoculars. Harlequin Ducks, Black Oyster Catchers, Wandering Tattlers, Surfbirds, just to name a few. The waters here are calm, making this a perfect destination for a windy or stormy day. Stellar sea lions sunbathe on rock formations off shore. You can’t miss their barking. It is rare to see sea lion babies. So if you do, please send us a picture, yes?
5. Bald Eagles & Red Tailed Hawks at Mt Grant Preserve
Saved from development just in the nick of time, this highest publicly accessible mountain on San Juan Island rewards the hiker with wildflowers, diverse woodlands and meadows, as well as breathtaking vistas on the ridge top. Watch Red Tailed Hawks elegantly ride the thermals below you and delight in Bald Eagle parents teaching their eaglet how to fly.