Tourists and locals alike look forward with excitement to Vancouver Island whale watching expeditions.The waters surrounding the island serve as a playground to many types of whales, including orcas, humpbacks, and grays, which we normally get to see only in the movies or in ocean parks.
On a good day, it is possible to see dozens of whales, and watching these giant mammals play in the water is, indeed, a feast for the senses. If you happen to be travelling to Vancouver Island, whether for pleasure or business, don’t miss the thrill of a whale watching adventure.
Tours Operate Almost All Year
Although whale watching tours operate almost all year long, there are definitely preferred times of year when your chances of seeing a pod of whales is much better than others. Thus, if your purpose is really to catch glimpses of these wonderful creatures, you should time your trip to the island to coincide with the best whale watching months.This means, you should travel to beautiful, “Amazing Vancouver Island” any time from March to October:
- Grey whales can be found in the waters around the Tofino area beginning in March.
- Resident orcas from the south can be seen along the Georgia Strait and Gulf Islands starting in May.
- Resident orcas from the north appear in the Strait of Johnson much later, around July, and they feed until September.
While whales are often visible from land, tours are available to help tourists make the most of their visit to Vancouver Island and will whisk you away to the areas of whale sightings.These trips can take a half-day or even the entire day, but with spectacular sights and sounds of the sea and marine life, you will hardly realize the passing of time.
What to Expect on a Whale Watching Tour
As well as being exciting, whale watching tours are also informative because the guides are experts (professional naturalists, no less!) who know a lot about local marine life. You’ll also feel very safe on your journey as all tour guides are trained in first aid and marine emergencies.
Many Vancouver Island whale watching tours utilize Zodiac style crafts which are fast, open vessels with rubber-edged, hard floors, and are safe, stable, comfortable, and less likely than other vessels to cause seasickness in sensitive individuals.The Zodiac boats are also eco-friendly and specifically designed to be safe for water mammals if they get too close.
Some tours offer cruise boats with cabins if you like protection from the elements, and you can move to viewing areas at the top of these cruise boats when whales are sighted.Catamarans are another choice of tour vessel.
Don’t worry about the weather conditions as tour operators will always cancel the trip if the forecast is bad or if sea conditions appear unsafe.
Whale watching tour companies won’t offer a 100% guarantee that you will see whales on your trip, even during the preferred months, but most tours include the offer that if there are no sightings, you can return for a free-of-charge trip – and another, and another until you finally have success!Although your main goal is to take a good look at the whales, you will likely be entertained by other marine life and may encounter sea lions, dolphins, seals, and eagles on your trip as well.
You can expect nothing less than beautiful memories (and don’t forget your camera!) of your Vancouver Island whale watching expedition.
To find transportation options for getting to the various whale watching tour locations, check out our Vancouver Island travel page.
Republished under Creative Commons License from West Coast Aquatic Safaris, an acclaimed Bear Watching, Whale Watching, Hot Springs Cove Tour Co & Marine Charter Co in Tofino, BC on the famed west coast of Vancouver Island. Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.