Best Time for Whale Watching on Vancouver Island

When you’re planning your trip to Vancouver Island, whether you’re heading here for work or for a holiday, you’re going to want to make sure that your plans include spending time exploring the incredible nature that is all over this beautiful Island. While there are endless hiking, cycling and kayaking adventures you can choose from, one of the best things to do while you’re visiting is booking a whale watching tour. Vancouver Island is one of the top whale sighting destinations in the world because of the vast diversity of species that can be found in the waters all around Vancouver Island. Even though eco tours run year ‘round, if you’re hoping to see some of the beautiful whales that pass through our oceans, the best time to hit the water is from April to October. 

While the best time of year is from April to October, there are a few more factors that make the spring the ideal time to book. 

  1. When April comes and the weather gets warmer, transient pods of humpback and orcas begin to arrive in the waters off the coast to search for fertile feeding grounds. By May, the orcas move closer to the shore searching for food, humpback whales arrive in larger numbers and grey whales can be seen migrating through the waters near the coast. 
  2. The tourist season doesn’t truly begin in earnest until the summer, which means that tours are more available so you are more likely to get the time and date that suits you best. 
  3. In spring, the weather is neither too hot, nor too cold. In the heat of summer, getting out on the ocean can be exhilarating but you have to contend with the summer sun and the crisp breeze from the fast-moving vessels. It can be tricky to dress appropriately and you have to always make sure that you are protected properly.
  4. As the fall hits, the days become shorter and cooler with more rainy days and unreliable weather patterns. This can make booking a tour difficult because there are so many elements outside of your control.

Now you’re ready to book your spring whale watching tour! So what company do you book with? We have rounded up a great list of all our favourite places nearby EMR properties that will make it easy for you to enjoy this activity, no matter where you’re staying!

Sooke 

While you’re staying at the stunning Pacific Coast Beach House in Sooke, or if you’re lucky enough to be enjoying Vancouver Island spring at Arbutus Hill in Metchosin, and you’re looking for a whale watching tour company nearby, you’re in luck because there are two incredible, locally run whale watching tour guides just a short drive away! 

Sooke Whale Watching:

This family owned and operated venture is dedicated to making sure that each of their guests have an unforgettable experience looking for marine mammals in the waters of south Vancouver Island while ensuring that their practices are focused on environmental consciousness and conservation. With incredible ratings over multiple platforms and a highly trained, professional team, you’re not going to be disappointed booking a tour with this incredible business. 

Adventures by HIP:

When two Vancouver Island nature photographers, Sarah and Mike and their furry companion, Bentley began HIP, there was no way of knowing that their passion would grow into a booming eco-tourism business. You won’t find any fast moving vessels or large-area tours with this company – these guys want to provide an alternative way to experience the waters around Sooke, where you can get up close and personal with the animals that call it home and the ones just passing through. With HIP, you can choose from four distinct packages; the Ocean Wildlife package for those wanting to see as much of our local marine life as possible, the Golden Hour Package, a perfect tour for those aspiring and professional photographers to get some incredible shots in the perfect light, plus two private charter services.

Victoria 

If you’re staying right in town at Landmark Sub Penthouse, Beacon Hill View Condo or Harbourview Executive at the Reef, you’re no more than a few minutes walk away from an incredible whale watching experience! If you’re staying out of downtown at Barkley Manor Executive, Craigdraoch Executive, or Camden Green Mews, you can take local transportation, cycle or drive just a few minutes and you’ll get the heart of whale watching headquarters in Victoria, the Inner Harbour. Listed below are our favourite tours to take while you’re staying in or near the capital city! 

Springtide Whale Watching and Eco Tours:

Founders Dan and Joanne Kukat have worked tirelessly for thirty years to provide their guests with exceptional experiences in the waters around Victoria. Here, you can find world-class whale watching tours where you’ll get to see and learn about all the different pods that live in and pass through the area. 

BC Whale Tours

If you are looking for some impressive horsepower and are eager to get out as far as you can during your tour, you’ll want to book with BC Whale Tours. Their state-of-the-art, custom designed and locally built vessels not only lead the industry in sustainability, safety and innovation but are some of the fastest vessels on the Island so each and every tour covers an enormous area. If you want to capitalize on seeing as much of Vancouver Island’s marine wildlife as possible, this company is a great option. 

Eagle Wing Tours:

With more than two thousand reviews on Tripadvisor, fourteen straight years in the number one spot for eco tourism companies on Vancouver Island, a dedicated 1% for the Planet company and a leader in the industry for being 100% carbon neutral, Eagle Wing Tours continues to take the eco tourism sector on Vancouver Island by storm. This company takes pride in providing every single guest with the best experience possible and will extend the tour time to ensure that every tour is a successful one – plus booking with these guys and supporting their initiatives feels great! 

Sidney 

Just north of Victoria is the beautiful little town of Sidney – home to incredible cafés, restaurants, funky boutiques and a gorgeous seaside walking path. What you may not know about Sidney is that just off the coast, the waters that run between Sidney and the gulf Islands all the way to the mainland are the rich feeding grounds of resident orcas, making it an ideal place to see these magnificent animals. If you’re staying at Miraloma 209, Bazan Bay Beach House or even on the other side of the Peninsula at Oceanfront Escape, if you want to get out on the water and try to catch a glimpse of these incredible animals, you don’t have to go far! 

Sidney Whale Watching:

Moored right in the Sidney Harbour with offices nearby in the Sidney Cannery building, this incredibly professional and experienced team are the perfect people to show you the rich diversity of the waters off the coast of Sidney. With two decades of experience and exceptional customer service, this local gem is a must for adventure seekers and nature lovers. 

Cowichan Valley 

There are lots of amazing things to do while you’re staying at Beachside Living at Cherry Point, Beachside Cottage on Saanich Inlet, Cowichan Valley Wine Country Retreat and Malahat Mountain House in the spring – wine tours, hiking, cycling, shopping and dining but if you’re looking for a different experience, a local whale watching tour is a great option! 

Ocean Ecoventures:

If you’re staying in the Cowichan Valley, you are probably already familiar with the unique, houseboat community of Cowichan Bay. This quirky, friendly, community is where you’ll also find Ocean Ecoventures, the passion project of owner and captain Simon Pidcock. Simon grew up on the ocean and has turned his passion into a rewarding profession, taking guests to explore the waters around Vancouver Island, meet some wildlife and learn about this incredible area.

Nanaimo

There are lots of reasons to visit the Harbour City. The shopping and dining is incredible and the booming craft beer scene and endless nature adventures will keep you busy from the moment you arrive. Whether you’re staying right near the city at Hammond Bay Executive Stay or basking in the peace and quiet of Nanoose Bay Country Home, if you want to get out on the water for some whale watching, you don’t have far to go!

Vancouver Island Whale Watch:

With a fleet that has both open zodiac-style and semi-covered boats that have daily departures from Nanaimo, Vancouver Island Whale Watch is a great way to explore the waters and animals of the Salish Sea. Their incredible tour guides will deftly navigate through the Salish Sea ecosystems to get you up close to orcas, humpback whales, porpoises, seals and so much more. During the tours, the guides will be able to tell you about the whales, identify different pods and educate on the importance of conservation to ensure that these magnificent animals will have a home in these waters for years to come. It’s truly an unforgettable experience. 

Campbell River

While you’re in the Comox Valley enjoying the peaceful seclusion of Kye Bay Beach House and the quiet charm of the surrounding small towns, you may think that you have to travel far afield to find a whale watching tour – but you’re in luck! There is an incredible, Indigenous owned company that will provide you with an unforgettable, authentic west coast ocean experience. 

Aboriginal Journeys:

Owner, Daniel Billy, an elder from the We-Wai-Kai First Nation and Captain Gary Henkel makes sure that each guest has an incredible time as he navigates through the rich ecosystems of the Salish Sea within the traditional territory of the Laichwiltach and Coast Salish peoples. As you explore the surrounding waters in the 27ft speed boat, you can be sure that you’re in the very best hands. Captain Gary will show you where resident orcas feed, where humpbacks migrate on their way north and where porpoises play.