Just Returned From → Golden & Invermere, British Columbia. Headed To → Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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The Best Whale Watching on Vancouver Island


Visit my birthplace: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and experience whale watching at its finest

In This Whale Watching Article You Will Discover:

  • The Best Operators in Campbell River
  • Where to Watch Whales on the West Coast
  • Victoria’s Wildlife Tour Operators
  • And More

When a wandering grey whale swum into Vancouver’s False Creek in May of 2010, it captivated the full attention of the citizens of Canada’s third largest city. Such is the way with whales; they represent mystery, beauty, adventure, grace and the idea that we, humans, are infinitely small next to Mother Nature.

I encourage everyone to go on a Vancouver Island whale watching adventure.

Even a born-and-raised West Coast’er like myself has never grown complacent when it comes to a whale sighting, be it in downtown Vancouver, from a BC Ferry sailing or practically within arm’s length from a sport fishing boat. They are magnificent.

So it’s no surprise that whale-watching tours are a big part of Vancouver Island’s tourist economy. And you’re in luck — watching and marine excursion hotspots are easily accessed from the Mainland via ferry or air; such locations include Campbell River, Tofino/Ucluelet and Victoria. Grey, humpback and minke whales, as well as orcas, dolphins and porpoise, are all known to pass by, and even on a whale-less day, tourists are virtually guaranteed up-close-and-personal sightings of lumbering sea lions, majestic bald eagles, curious seals, sea birds of a hundred varieties and so much more. Heck, just the scenery is worth the price of admission.

But should a whale surface nearby when you’re out on your tour, it will be an experience you won’t soon forget. My advice? Put down your camera and your camcorder and stay in the moment. When it comes to whale sightings, your memory will always be more powerful than a photo. (Some tour operators have photographers on board, so you can just enjoy the tour and pick up a couple of photos afterwards.)

So, if you’re visiting BC’s West Coast head to Vancouver Island and enjoy an adventure envied the world-round: wild whales, right in our back yard.

No affiliate links here — just a helpful list!

Whale Watching in Campbell River

The following tour operators can be found in and around Campbell River, British Columbia. Campbell River can be easily accessed via air (Comox Airport or Campbell River Airport) or via ferry ride from Vancouver to Nanaimo or Victoria, then drive north on Hwy 19 or 19A.

Discovery Marine Safaris

www.adventurewhalewatching.com; 1.866.501.ORCA

Hurricane Jack Adventures

www.hurricanejackadventures.com; 1.866.668.5225

Eagle Eye Adventures

www.eagleeyeadventures.com; 1.877.286.0809

Out For Adventure Tours & Outfitting

www.outforadventure.com; 1.866.344.5292

Island Adventure Centre

www.islandadventurecentre.com; 1.877.285.2007

Campbell River Whale Watching & Adventure Tours

www.campbellriverwhalewatching.com; 1.877.909.2667

Aboriginal Journeys Wildlife & Adventure Tours

www.aboriginaljourneys.com; 1.888.455.8101

Painter’s Lodge & April Point Resort & Spa

www.obmg.com; 1.800.663.7090

Stubbs Island Whale Watching (Telegraph Cove)

www.stubbs-island.com; 1.800.665.3066

Tide Rip Grizzly Tours (Telegraph Cove)

www.tiderip.com; 1.888.643.9319

West Coast Whales

If you plan on spending more time on beautiful Vancouver Island, a trip to Tofino and/or Ucluelet on the West Coast is in order. Along with the gorgeous beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park, the lush coastal temperate rainforest and cute touristy townsites, whale watching excursions abound.

Archipelago Wildlife Cruises

250.726.8289; www.archipelagocruises.com

Clayoquot Eco Tours at the Whale Centre

1.888.474.2288; www.tofinowhalecentre.com

Jamie’s Whaling Station

1.800.667.9913; www.jamies.com

Ocean Outfitters

1.877.90.OCEAN; www.oceanoutfitters.bc.ca

Remote Passages Marine Excursions

1.800.666.9833; www.remotepassages.com

Subtidal Adventures

1.877.44.1134; www.subtidaladventures.com

West Coast Aquatic Safaris

1.877.5-WHALES; www.whalesafaris.com

To get to Tofino/Ucluelet, fly into Comox from Vancouver and hire either a tour bus or rent a car for the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Vancouver Island’s West Coast or take a BC Ferry sailing to Nanaimo or Victoria then drive northwest (Hwy 19 to Hwy 4). Heck, you may just see some whales from the ferry too!

Capital City Whales

British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria, has many whale watching opportunities. To access Victoria, either fly direct into Victoria International Airport or take a BC Ferry sailing from Tsawwassen (near Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (near Victoria).

Springtide Victoria Whale Watching Tours

1.800.470.3474; www.princeofwhales.com

Prince of Whales Whale Watching

1.800.470.3474; www.springtidecharters.com

BC Whale Tours

1.250.590.5030; www.bcwhaletours.com

Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours

1.800.708.9488; www.eaglewingtours.com

Orca Spirit Adventures

1.888.672.6722; www.orcaspirit.com

Five Star Whale Watching

250.388.7223; www.5starwhales.com

Sea Quest Adventures

250.656.7599; www.seaquestadventures.com

Seacoast Expeditions

250.383.2254; www.seacoastexpeditions.com

Great Pacific Adventures

250.386.2277; www.greatpacificadventures.com

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About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

3 comments… add one
  • David Webb Jun 7, 2011 Link

    Sea sickness can be a big problem. Take Gravol and drink coffee to counter the drowsiness.

  • george Jun 1, 2011 Link

    What about sea sickness? Any tips there? I’m from the prairies.

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