In 1986, Carolee and Jim Maya decided to take their summer vacation in the Great Northwest. They were dumbstruck by the natural beauty, the warmth of the people, the mountains, and the sea. Oh that sea! Jim had been in boats all his life, but had never seen such amazing waters. That very first ferry boat ride set in motion a dream. That dream was to live close to these waters, where they began watching Orcas that summer. A passion was born. Lifelong teachers, Jim and Carolee made the move to San Juan Island, and in 1997 started Maya’s Westside Whale Watching Charters. Their first boat, the Annie May, started them on a journey that today has become Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching.
Nearly ten years ago, life long naturalist, Captain Spencer Domico returned to his childhood playground of San Juan Island where he began filling in for Capt. Jim and offering tours on his own boat, the Island Dream. Jim introduced Rachel to Spencer a couple years later (ask them about that story some time!). They are now married and are Jim and Carolee’s island children. Combining Spencer’s love of the outdoors with Rachel’s passion for art, they strive to inspire others by sharing the beauty around us. They have operated Legacy Charters along side the Maya’s at Snug Harbor, and now the two companies have merged, not only their businesses, but their passion for the Orcas and the other wildlife that live with them on and in the Salish Sea.
In 2014, whale and oceans advocate, Jeff Friedman began talking with Captains Jim and Spencer about his dream of working in the field. His clear and evident love of whales and educating others, brought him to join the Maya’s-Legacy vision. Jeff and his wife, Joelle, have found their forever home on San Juan Island and are looking forward to many more years among friends, the trees, mountains and whales.
Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching carries on the tradition of responsible whale watching and wildlife viewing, personalized private charters and photography tours.
Behind every great captain, there is a great crew. We have a couple of exceptional naturalists and part-time relief captains that compliment our tours. In the event your tour has one of our part-time captains, we assure you they have lots of experience running our tours, are very knowledgeable, and well connected with our spotting network.
Our naturalists have extensive knowledge of the Salish Sea, and especially orca whales. Heather MacIntyre and Jeanne Hyde most frequently join us, and are both industry-known for their insight. Jeanne is a volunteer, and has been joining Captain Jim on tours for many years. Additionally, she has donated lots of time, sharing her wealth of knowledge with visitors at Lime Kiln State Park. Check out her blog, a Whale of a Purpose.
Heather MacIntyre is a wildlife biologist, whose passion for marine mammals brought her to the Island. Her sincere enthusiasm parallels her knowledge, and her commitment to the oceans and their inhabitants is admirable. In addition to her time spent on the water, Heather pursues her interests in training horses and photographing wildlife. To follow Heather and her photography work, find her on FaceBook.
No matter who is on board, we’ll always take good care of you!