Puget Sound is a complex of inlets, bays, and harbors that includes not only Seattle, but also Tacoma, Olympia, and plenty of charming little towns and unique islands. The region is home to sparkling blue waters, lush green forests, sandy beaches, and a relaxed, slow-paced way of life.
Puget Sound stretches approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Deception Pass in the north to Olympia, Washington in the south. Distances between islands aren’t great, but you should still allow at least a day to explore a few of the islands and absorb the amazing views of the Olympic Mountains or the San Juan Islands.
Take a boat tour to Tillicum Village on Blake Island for a traditional Native Pacific Northwest dance performance, or sail to Bainbridge Island for an afternoon picnic. As you explore the sound, you’ll come across old fishing villages turned into yacht havens, and idyllic rural settings ripe for exploration. Wildlife aficionados will love tours focused on the Puget Sound’s endemic flora and fauna. Or spy it all from above on a thrilling seaplane tour. Many Seattle sightseeing tours combine Puget Sound boat tours with visits to city highlights such as Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and Pioneer Square, as do tours farther afield on the Olympic Peninsula.
Know Before You Go
The Puget Sound is ideal for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, families, and anyone looking for a little urban escape.
The sound is famous for wet, rainy weather, so be sure to dress appropriately, especially between November and May.
Some Puget Sound tours include stops in British Columbia; these require a valid passport.
Book boat and seaplane tours in advance in the summer, the area's busiest time.
How to Get There
Washington Ferries handle most of the traffic in Puget Sound, and you can get out on the water from the Seattle waterfront. Head to Pier 52 for Washington State Ferries, Pier 55 for harbor cruises and trips to Tillicum Village on Blake Island, or Pier 56 for boats to Chittenden (Ballard) Locks.
When to Get There
Although the Seattle area has a reputation for being rainy, most of that precipitation falls between November and May; the rest of the year can be beautiful. Consequently, summers can bring hordes of travelers and lots of waiting in line. Ideal months for a visit are September and October.
Seaplane Tours and Whale Watching
Puget Sound seaplane tours, which take off from locations such as Lake Union or Friday Harbor, are arguably the best and most unique way to see the sound and its surrounds. These planes, as their name suggests, have the ability to take off and land on water—a special experience for those not accustomed to this mode of transportation. Whale-watching tours, typically held May through November, are another Puget Sound specialty, offering the chance to spot humpback whales, minke whales, and orcas.