Olympic Wilderness and San Juan Islands

Wild Coastlines, Whales, and Wilderness aboard the Safari Quest


The coastlines of Washington and the San Juan Islands are a charming world apart, filled with fascinating wildlife. On this eight-day cruise you’ll sail from Seattle, crossing into Puget Sound, Deception Pass, and the Salish Sea, discovering islands, mossy beaches, and dripping rainforests. Climb to ridgetops for incredible views of the San Juan archipelago, kayak alongside rocky cliffs, and watch for whales and eagles from the deck of the Safari Quest, which carries just 22 guests into the tiniest nooks of this unique wilderness region.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1
Seattle, Washington / Embarkation

In a region renowned as a boater's paradise, your discovery begins from Fishermen's Terminal. Embark on the Safari Quest and set sail via the ship canal to Lakes Union and Washington—their glacially formed basins dug more than 12,000 years ago. After dinner, a sunset cruise through the historic Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and into Elliott Bay sets you right for the night. Seattle was founded along these shores and you don't want to miss the skyline!

Day 2
South Puget Sound

Mudflats, watersheds, and a microclimate feed the riches of the South Sound. Explore the intertidal zone by kicking in the mud with your guides, looking for anemone and hermit crabs. Kayaking, hiking, and skiff rides are on tap, too—in one of the region’s many state parks. At about 100 miles long, Puget Sound offers ample opportunity for observing the serpentine shore as you cruise through Tacoma Narrows and past Point Defiance, Vashon Island, and Bremerton. Cap off your first full day of play watching for Dall’s porpoise, with a front-row view from the bow.

Day 3
San Juan Islands

Wake up surrounded by the wilds of the Salish Sea, a humbling 360 degrees of wilderness. It’s the captain’s choice where you’ll land today, but rest assured, you’ll be away from the crowds. There are unending options for investigating this sea-salty playground. If you’re kayaking, keep your eyes peeled above and below the surface. Rocky outcroppings play host to harbor seals—and it’s also orca territory. Ashore, it’s one boot in front of the other, as you hike through the forest or “take the high road” to ridges overlooking the archipelago. Join your expedition team on deck to search for whales, seals, sea lions, and bird rookeries as you cruise through the myriad San Juans—no two islands are the same.

Day 4
Deception Pass / Strait of Juan de Fuca

A guided kayak excursion reveals local inhabitants—sea stars, anemones, jelly fish, perhaps even inquisitive harbor seals. Walk along a curiosity-rich intertidal zone or stretch your legs on a mossy hike. And tides and current permitting, perhaps even sail through the swirling waters of Deception Pass. Later in the day, keep watch for marine mammals as you venture into the open waters where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets Puget Sound. Drop anchor for the evening in a tucked-away cove.

Day 5
Sucia Island

The treats keep coming! With no paved roads or even ferry access, enjoy your day on picturesque Sucia Island—total year-round population of four—a Washington State Marine Park filled with hidden coves and bays. You feel a million miles away from it all, exploring the intertidal zone with your guides, hiking across the island, and kayaking in a protected bay. It’s all up for grabs.

Day 6
Captain's Choice

Make it an ideal morning by kicking it off with an early soak in the on-deck hot tub, a paddle along the shores of the Olympic Peninsula, or both! Your Captain sets the course today for explorations in the rain shadow of the Salish Sea. You may find yourself hiking deep into the mossy, towering old-growth of the Olympic Peninsula or beachcombing for anemone and hermit crabs along the shores of Puget Sound. Or perhaps, a chance to kayak and paddleboard, investigate bird rookeries, or search for whales in the Sea’s rich emerald waters.

Day 7
Hiking Olympic Wilderness

Hike (or snowshoe if the snow is still there!) in Olympic National Wilderness—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—surrounded by rainforest, old-growth forest, and top of the world 360-degree views. This evening, wrap it up with a Farewell Dinner and slide show highlighting your week’s adventures.

Day 8
Seattle / Disembark

This morning, cruise through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and tie up back in Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal. After breakfast, the captain and crew bid you a fond farewell.



Transit the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks or cruise the Seattle waterfront
Kayak, paddleboard, and skiff in island channels formed by glaciers
Explore Olympic National Wilderness, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its rainforests and 360-degree views
Hike in old growth forests, state parks, and in remote sections of the Olympic wilderness
Watch for whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, eagles, and sea birds


Length: 8 days
Cost From: $5600  
Arrive: Seattle, Washington
Depart: Seattle, Washington
Lodging: 7 nights aboard a 22-passenger expedtion vessel
Meals: All meals aboard ship included
Activity: Sea Kayaking, Walking, Wildlife and Natural History, Hiking / Trekking, Whale Watching, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

8-day cruise, wilderness and coastal explorations