With Clipper Vacations, whale and other sea life encounters are just a boat ride away from downtown Seattle.

"We're the only one that leaves downtown Seattle, which is very convenient," said Captain Bill Tiffany, who commands the San Juan Clipper on the Whale Watching and Sealife Search day trip. "We're one of the faster boats out there, and we have one of the better viewing platforms."

From now through October, Clipper Vacations is offering the tour, which allows you to experience some of the Northwest's most iconic scenes, including views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains and Deception Pass.

"The scenery itself is incredible," said Captain Tiffany. "I can't think of a better way to see a larger portion of this area in a single day."

Along the way, you can expect to see wildlife like Harbor seals, but most guests say their favorite part of the journey is seeing the whales.

"We see Humpback whales, and Orcas or Killer whales, but we'll also sometimes encounter Gray whales and Minke whales," said Justine Buckmaster, a naturalist who works on board the San Juan Clipper. She identifies the whales seen throughout the trip, and is on hand to answer any questions that may come up. "That's really the most exciting, when people really just catch that first glimpse of the whale diving and how it just smoothly and gracefully moves through the water."

"They were just gorgeous," said Mac McGlynn, a passenger on the tour. "They were breaching, rolling on their back rolling popping their heads up. Just kind of out there playing and eating."

Education about whale and sealife protection and conservation is also a key part of the trip.

"It gets people interested, it gets them excited about the animals, and that makes them want to help them, as well," said Buckmaster.

The journey culminates with some free time in picturesque Friday Harbor before returning to Seattle. Generally, there's enough time to grab lunch, shop, or check out the Whale Museum.

And with more than 26 years of whale watching experience in the San Juans, Clipper Vacations is confident you'll see whales on your trip. If not, you will receive a coupon for a complimentary trip.