If you are looking for the best whale watching tours in Vancouver then you are in the right place. There is not much more thrilling than seeing the majestic whales in their natural habitat off the coast of Vancouver. It is a bucket list item for so many visitors to British Columbia, including me! The waters off British Columbia’s coast are rich with marine life and Orcas, humpback, gray and minke whales are the most common whales that you will see on a Vancouver whale watching trip!
Best Whale Watching Tours from Vancouver
There are a few choices when it comes to booking Vancouver whale watching tours. Firstly, you can take a boat that departs from Vancouver and returns back to the same spot. Alternatively, you can take a floatplane from Downtown Vancouver harbor over to Victoria Harbor on Vancouver Island and hop on a whale-watching vessel from there.
A typical Vancouver whale watching tour is about 4 hours. If you choose the floatplane option, it will be a bit longer to account for the 20 minute flight each way!
WHALE WATCHING TOUR WITH PRICE OF WHALES FROM GRANVILLE ISLAND
Prince of Whales offers whale watching on a covered vessel. Their office is located in Granville Island and their vessel departs from the same area. When you book with Price of Whales, experience whale watching in true comfort and style along the waters off Vancouver. You have the opportunity to see several types of whales (depending on the time of year) with orcas generally being the main attraction, as well as an assortment of sea lions, sea birds, and other marine species. Marvel at the beauty of the Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, and Howe Sound on this 3-6 hour adventure. Price of Whales operates with a 62-foot covered vessel built for whale watching, and designed to minimize its ecological footprint. You can choose to be inside or outside and can choose from 3 viewing areas on 2 levels.
WHALE WATCHING TOUR WITH HARBOUR AIR SEAPLANES
Leave behind Vancouver’s bustling harbor for the dramatic beauty of the Straight of Georgia as you fly from Vancouver harbour to Victoria harbour before getting on your whale watching boat. You have plenty of air time to soak up great aerial views of snow-capped mountains and verdant coastline before landing in Victoria. From there, board an open-topped Zodiac or covered Ocean Cruiser (please make your boat selection at time of purchase) for the whale-watching cruise. Set off into Haro Strait, an area flush with salmon—a natural attraction for orcas during migration! Spot whale pods, as well as seals, sea lions, sea otters and more. Throughout your ride, your guide shares fascinating facts about the resident marine life, and explain the area’s unique oceanic ecosystem. After your cruise, choose to head directly back to the mainland by seaplane, or stay in Victoria to enjoy more of the city and take a later flight back to Vancouver.
Common Questions about Whale Watching Tours from Vancouver
The Vancouver whale watching season is typically from April to October. Find out more about the best time to go whale watching in Vancouver.
You can see whales all over Vancouver. There are the resident orcas as well as the Transient orcas and various other whales in Vancouver including humpback, grey and minke whales.
In the spring and fall it is obvious to dress in layers all over Vancouver, but you will want a toque and gloves! Even in the summer months, the wind off the water on the whale watching tour boats can be very cold. I have been whale watching in July and was happy i packed a toque to stay warm on the outer deck! Otherwise, bring comfortable clothes, flat shoes for walking around on the boat and a waterproof jacket for rain.
Typically Vancouver whale watching tours are about 4 hours. Victoria generally offers shorter tours but the boats departing from Vancouver need to get out to the ocean where the whales are, which usually takes at least an hour! If you take a float plane from Vancouver to Vancouver Island for whale watching, it is usually a half day tour with round trip airfare and time for whale watching on the island.
More Vancouver Travel Resources
Love photos? Check out 30 Instagram Spot in Vancouver!
5 Things to Bring with You to Vancouver
A good rain jacket is always a good idea, even in the summer. While you are not likely to get wet in July and August, late august almost always sees a wet day, and May, June and September will also get rain. If you want to read about average rainfall, I have more information on weather in Vancouver. Even if you are coming in the winter, unless you plan on skiing, you can get away with a rain jacket and some good base layers for most of the winter in and around Vancouver.
A good power bank to charge phones and other devices is always a good idea. After a day of videoing, GPS and taking photos, the last thing you want is a dead cell phone. These are inexpensive and come in handy during the day. If you are flying to Vancouver, make sure you keep any power banks in your hand luggage, as security will often remove them from checked bags (I have found that out the hard way before).
A Universal Adapter is going to be handy for International Visitors. Canada uses the same plugs as the USA but if you are coming from somewhere else abroad, grab yourself one before you arrive.
A good guidebook is something I always get when I am researching a new location. Lonely Planet is the usual go-to.
Reusable shopping bags are available to buy everywhere, but if you want to get a compact one before you arrive, it is a good idea.
Reusable water bottles are also a good idea. You can buy bottled water anywhere that you can get drinks, but Canada does pride itself on recycling as much as possible, and why shell out wasteful dollars when you can drink the tap water all over British Columbia.
Travel Insurance for Canada
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to international travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday. Canada is a very expensive country for medical care and a doctors visit in an Emergency Room is over $800 to just see the doctor.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
Rental Cars are very popular in British Columbia. There is just so much to see and there is not a train or bus network outside of Metro Vancouver or Victoria. If you plan on leaving Vancouver and want to see even the local ski hills, I suggest a rental car. You can get a rental car before you arrive.
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!