People choose Vancouver Island as a vacation spot for variety of reasons – the beaches, botanical gardens, parks, museums, and black bears among them –and very few pass up the opportunity of including a Vancouver Island whale watching adventure in their plans.
The waters of the Island attract orcas, or killer whales,as well as humpbacks and other whale species to the area all year, but whales are most likely to be seen during the best season for spotting them – spring to fall –with whale watching now one of the Island’s biggest attractions.
Two Types of Vessels are Ideal for a Whale Watching Tour
A Vancouver Island whale watching adventure is best experienced on board a Zodiac or Scarab.These are vessels specifically designed for the purposes of making watching whales safe, easy, and enjoyable:
1. The Zodiac
- The Zodiac is an inflatable vessel that runs over the top of the water, which makes it safe (for marine animals) and fun, as well as comfortable and exciting for passengers riding in it.
- Zodiacs are typically small, with a seating capacity of 15 at most, and they can be open or partially open.
- Because they move very fast, passengers should expect to get wet during the tour – not that this is a problem; it actually adds to the fun! Operators can supply rain gear.
2. The Scarab
- The Scarab is another popular vessel, which is bigger than a Zodiac and offers more comfort and stability.
- It runs very quietly, making it less disturbing than other vessels for whales and other forms of marine life.
- The Scarab is designed to perform well even in fierce weather conditions.
- It advertises itself as being the best vessel for whale watching although, truth be told, the uses of the Scarab extend far beyond that – it is also utilized for search and rescue operations!
- Passengers especially like the fact that there are washrooms on the Scarab, something that you cannot always find in Zodiacs or in other whale watching vessels (be sure and ask when making reservations!).
- Not only is the Scarab safe, it is also environmentally friendly as it follows rigid guidelines that guarantee low impact on the environment.
Professional Whale Watching Vessels Adhere to Rules
Regardless of where or how you choose to ride does not change the fact that Vancouver Island whale watching is an incredibly satisfying experience, something you will tell your friends about over and over again.Making the experience more wonderful is the fact that on board these vessels are biologists who keep their passengers engaged with interesting and factual information about marine life.These experts also have first aid kits and the skills to use them, and are trained to handle emergencies.
Notwithstanding the safety guaranteed by these vessels, precautions still have to be observed while whale watching. Passengers wear life jackets over comfortable clothes.
While whale watching tours run all year, the best season to find whales around Vancouver Island begins in March and runs through until September or October.If you visit the Island during these months, you increase your chances of catching sight of orcas or other whales feeding and playing in the water, and you’ll never forget the sight.
When you choose a Vancouver Island whale watching tour, you will probably see a lot of marine life (e.g., dolphins or seals) but if you don’t see any whales during the expedition, most tours offer another seat (free) on successive tours until there is a sighting. Ask ahead of time so that you’ll know what to expect.
To find transportation options for getting to the various island whale hotspots, 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.