Groups hoping to see Pacific Northwest wildlife are in luck when booking a tour with Puget Sound Express, which operates out of Edmonds and Port Townsend, Washington. In addition to seeing seals, sea lions and marine birds, groups are guaranteed to spot a whale, or two.

“The important thing for groups to know is that we guarantee all whale-watching tours to see whales,” said Sarah Hanke, sales director for Puget Sound Express. “The Pacific Northwest has some of the most studied Orcas in the world, along with a very wide variety of wildlife. Some say that we have the best whale watching in the world with an opportunity to see five different types of whales.”

Sarah Hanke is in the third generation of the family-owned Puget Sound Express, which started with her grandfather in the ’80s.

Puget Sound Express boat and whale
Puget Sound Express, Wash.
Credit: Puget Sound Express

“We have been in operation for 33 years and it all began as sailing charters with the schooner Alcyone,” Hanke said. “Over the years, the company has shifted from sailing charters, ferry service, fishing charters to now whale watching. Whale watching for us really took off in the early ’90s.”

With four boats in its fleet, Puget Sound Express operates public and private tours, including Guaranteed Whale Watching Tours, Bird Watching Tours and Multi-Day Whale and Wildlife Tours.

“On board every tour is a naturalist who describes the area and wildlife that we have,” Hanke said. “There is also a galley that serves hot and cold beverages along with our homemade Blueberry Buckle. Groups can either join a scheduled tour with other individual guests or choose to have a private outing that is subject to their own itinerary and time frame.”  

Puget Sound Express can accommodate groups of 20 to 130 guests on-board one vessel. Larger groups can be accommodated with multiple boats.

“Tour planners and operators should definitely add us to their itinerary because we are one of the oldest whale-watching companies in the region,” Hanke said. “The history and connection to our family business adds a local touch to the tour where guests feel a part of our family and stewardship while out on the water. It also gives guests an opportunity to see the Pacific Northwest and Seattle area from the water.”

Puget Sound Express