Top Knot Travels: San Juan Islands : 2015

Top Knot Travels: San Juan Islands : 2015

Killer whales or Orcas are considered a particular symbol of power and strength, and catching sight of one is considered a momentous omen. Some Pacific Northwest tribes, such as the Tlingit, view the killer whale as a special protector of humankind and never hunted killer whales. The Kwakiutl tribes believed that the souls of marine hunters turned into killer whales upon their death, just as the souls of forest hunters turned into wolves. For this reason, there were a number of special rituals regarding the killing of a killer whale, so that its spirit could be reborn as a human once again.

The awe and reverence for the killer whale dates back centuries. Mankind has always had a special bond with this intelligent and beautiful animals. I have had my own “bond” with Orcas. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated with marine mammals. Free Willy (the movie) was consistently playing in our household. They are amazing animals. Seeing them in the wild for the first time in 2012 was one of the top moments of my life thus far.

I had been blabbering to all my friends about my first time seeing these amazing animals, and finally, this year, two of my very dear friends decided they had heard enough and wanted to go see these amazing animals for themselves.

Judy, Derek and I headed up to the San Juan Islands one Friday this summer. Thanks to Lexus Portland, we got a pretty sweet ride up there as well. The NX200t was smooth, quiet, comfortable and mostly cool! The car was the perfect amount of space for us to feel comfortable on the 4.5 hour trip up to the islands. Small note: the total for gas for 500 miles.. $50…crazy good!

After a nice evening in Friday Harbor, it was the day we had been waiting for. The day to see whales. I highly, highly recommend doing your research (or just listening to me ha!) when choosing your whale watching boat. It can drastically change your experience. Both times I’ve seen whales in the wild, I went with Western Prince, on the Explorer in Friday Harbor. The Western Prince crew has 2 boats, but I think the Explorer is the best. It’s a “27′ Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (Zodiac style), similar to the boats the Coast Guard uses for search and rescue. It is the only US Coast Guard certified Rigid Hull Inflatable in Washington State. The “Western Explorer” seats 15 guests and cruises at up to 30 knots, giving us more range than any other US whale watching boat and getting us where we need to go quickly. “

Their crew is so knowledgeable and really does an amazing job. I can’t praise them enough. Overall, it was another amazing weekend. We saw 5 humpback whales, several Orcas (including babies!) as well as stellar sea lions, harbor porpoises and many more. It’s a life changing experience. 

The Orca is my spirit animal. 

In case this wasn’t enough…
Thanks again to Lexus and Western Prince for giving us a trip to remember. 
Rachel xo



  1. October 8, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    omg, i love that you drove up there in a lexus. i seriously love that.

  2. October 8, 2015 / 8:13 pm

    That is so awesome!!! I have always wanted to see orcas that close up. Though admittedly, I'm terrible on boats so who knows if that'll happen… but that looks like so much fun. And sweet outfits 😉

  3. October 8, 2015 / 8:59 pm

    Wow. So awesome. Love that you snagged all those whale photos.

  4. October 9, 2015 / 2:14 am

    Way cool. I've only gone on humpback whale watching stints. Never for orcas. Sounds like a great experience. And . . . a Lexus hatchback? Really?!

  5. October 9, 2015 / 1:28 pm

    I've always wanted to visit the San Juan Islands and now I want to go even more! What beautiful photos!

  6. October 12, 2015 / 1:17 pm

    um same. have a thing with orcas. i was a free-willy obsessor and also made myself a little clay orca during clay class or whatever it was in kindergarten. did a terrible job sculpting it but made my parents proudly display it.

    we went whale watching in the san juans in college and i was moved to tears. the boat we were on dropped the device that picks up whale songs under the boat and played it for us so we could hear them talking to each other. they all swam directly under our boat and i was in touching distance. it was intense. <3

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