Vancouver provides some of the best whale watching opportunities in the world. The chance to see majestic whales in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, the breathtaking scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest combined with the thrill of watching these creatures in their natural habitat is an experience not to be missed. In this post, we’ll explore the best places to go whale watching in Vancouver, along with tips on what to bring and what to expect on these amazing excursions.
The 5 Best Whale Watching in Vancouver
- Half Day Whale Watching Adventure from Vancouver
- Whale Watching Tour from Vancouver
- Downtown Vancouver Sightseeing Cruise in a Zodiac Vessel
- Sea Vancouver City and Wildlife
- Vancouver Half Day Whale Watching Tour in a Covered Boat
The 5 Best Whale Watching in Vancouver
1. Half Day Whale Watching Adventure from Vancouver
This half-day whale-watching adventure departing from Vancouver allows you to witness a variety of marine life, including whales. You’ll board an 80-foot flagship catamaran, the ‘Salish Sea Dream’, which offers several viewing areas and an indoor heated cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows. During the tour, you’ll learn about local history and geology from an expert crew of 3-4 naturalists/guides. You can also enjoy exquisite views of the Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, and Howe Sound. Departure times are flexible to accommodate your schedule. Hotel pickup and drop-off is included, as well as educational materials on board. The vessel has a capacity of up to 95 passengers, offering enough area for each traveler.
2. Whale Watching Tour from Vancouver
Scout for an incredible array of marine life during this half-day Vancouver whale watching cruise. Join a professional naturalist on board a modern boat as you search for creatures including orcas, seals, porpoises, and eagles. The waters for your cruise are renowned for attracting whales, offering an up to 90% success rate with sightings. Best of all, enjoy spectacular scenery set amidst the Gulf and San Juan Islands. Your whale watching trip from Vancouver includes round-trip transport from your hotel plus bottled water and snacks. Shuttle pickup and drop off option is available for round-trip transportation from downtown Vancouver. Restroom on board and gratuities are also included. Note that lunch is not included in this tour.
3. Downtown Vancouver Sightseeing Cruise in a Zodiac Vessel
See Vancouver’s dramatic skyline from the water on this small-group cruise in an inflatable Zodiac boat that accommodates up to 12 passengers. Your tour will take you through Vancouver Harbour, Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and False Creek, where you’ll get to see some of the city’s best-known sites and landmarks from a unique perspective. Keep your cameras ready as you might also spot marine wildlife such as bald eagles, harbor seals, and dolphins along the way. This high-speed tour is perfect for those who want to take in the views of the city and its natural surroundings without any obstructions. Additionally, the tour is limited to just 12 people, which ensures a personalized and intimate experience. Hotel pickup and drop-off, all necessary equipment, a local guide, and gratuities are included in the tour price. Meet your guide at the Bridget restaurant, located at 1666 Duranleau St on Granville Island, 30 minutes prior to the tour’s start time.
4. Sea Vancouver City and Wildlife
Explore the stunning waterways of Vancouver and get a different perspective of the city by taking a boat tour. Join a small group as you sail from False Creek and visit various landmarks including Stanley Park Lions Gate Bridge, and English Bay. Keep an eye out for the city’s resident sea lion colony near Lighthouse Park and enjoy observing the marine animals. You’ll also have the chance to spot the native bald eagles as you take in the city’s skyline and waterfront landmarks. This tour is available in the morning or afternoon and a small group ensures a more attentive guide. All necessary equipment is provided and pick-up and drop-off from your hotel is included, as well as gratuities. You’ll also get to go whale watching during the tour. The meeting point is 1666 Duranleau St on Granville Island. Please arrive 30 minutes before departure as the boat will not wait for late guests. The activity ends back at the meeting point.
5. Vancouver Half Day Whale Watching Tour in a Covered Boat
Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Vancouver’s marine life with this half-day whale watching tour. Spot orcas, humpback, minke, and gray whales, as well as porpoises and seals, in their natural habitat. Explore the waters off Vancouver and take in stunning views of the Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands, and Howe Sound. Learn about the local geology and marine animals from the live commentary on board and knowledgeable guide. Enjoy hot drinks, including coffee, tea, and hot cocoa, and snacks are available for purchase too. The tour includes Jr. Naturalist guides, educational coloring books, and downloadable tour guides in English, Spanish, French, German, and Dutch. Gratuities are optional, and hotel pick-up and drop-off services are provided. Join us on this unforgettable experience to witness the natural magnificence of Vancouver’s marine life.
The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching in Vancouver
Are you planning a trip to Vancouver and looking for a unique experience? Whale watching is a popular activity that many tourists enjoy. But before you plan your trip, you may have some questions about whale watching in Vancouver. In this post, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about whale watching in Vancouver, so you know everything you need to before heading out to sea.
1. When is the best time of year to go whale watching in Vancouver?
The best time to go whale watching in Vancouver depends on the type of whales you want to see. Between April and October, you’ll have the best chance to see humpback whales, while May to November is the best time to see orcas. Gray whales can be spotted during their migration period from February to May.
2. What types of whales can I see while whale watching in Vancouver?
There are three main types of whales that you can see while whale watching in Vancouver: orcas (also known as killer whales), humpback whales, and gray whales. Other marine life you may encounter include dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, and seals.
3. Which whale watching companies are the best in Vancouver?
There are several whale watching companies operating in Vancouver, but not all are created equal. To ensure you have the best experience, it’s important to do your research and read reviews. Some of the top-rated companies include:
- Prince of Whales
- Wild Whales Vancouver
- Steveston Seabreeze Adventures
4. How long do whale watching tours last?
Whale watching tours typically last between 3-5 hours, depending on the company and the type of tour. Some companies offer half-day or full-day tours, as well as private charters for a more personalized experience.
5. Is it safe to go whale watching?
Yes, it is safe to go whale watching in Vancouver. The whale watching companies follow strict safety guidelines and regulations set by Transport Canada. The boats are equipped with safety equipment, and the captains are knowledgeable and experienced in navigating the waters.
6. What should I wear on a whale watching tour?
It’s important to dress appropriately for a whale watching tour. Dress in layers, as temperatures can vary on the water. It’s also a good idea to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun and wind. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and a waterproof jacket.
7. Will I get seasick on a whale watching tour?
Seasickness can happen on any boat trip, but it’s less likely on a whale watching tour since the boats travel in protected waters. If you’re prone to seasickness, it’s recommended to take medication before the tour and eat a light meal beforehand.
8. Can I bring food and drinks on a whale watching tour?
Most whale watching companies allow food and beverages, but it’s important to check with the company beforehand. Some tours may provide snacks and drinks onboard, while others may have restrictions on what can be brought. It’s important to avoid bringing any single-use plastics, as they can harm marine life.
9. What if I don’t see any whales on my tour?
Whale watching is a natural experience, and sightings are not guaranteed. However, most whale watching companies offer a sighting guarantee or discount on a future tour if no whales are seen during the current tour. Remember, the journey itself can be a wonderful experience, with breathtaking views of the coastline and other marine life sightings.
10. Can I take photos on a whale watching tour?
Yes, most whale watching companies allow photography on their tours. It’s recommended to bring a camera with a zoom lens to capture the whales from a safe distance. It’s important to respect the whales and their natural habitat and not to disturb them with loud noises or close proximity.
How to do Whale Watching in Vancouver
Vancouver is one of the best places in the world to go for whale watching tours, with its mild climate, stunning scenery, and abundant wildlife. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do whale watching in Vancouver.
Step 1: Choose a Whale Watching Tour Operator
The first step in planning your whale watching tour is to choose a reputable and experienced tour operator. Here are some of the most popular and highly-rated whale watching tour operators in Vancouver:
- Wild Whales Vancouver: offers a 3-5 hour whale watching tour on a high-speed zodiac boat
- Prince of Whales: offers a 3-5 hour whale watching tour on a comfortable covered vessel
- Steveston Seabreeze Adventures: offers a 3-4 hour whale watching tour on a high-speed zodiac boat
- Sea Vancouver: offers a 90-minute whale watching tour on a high-speed zodiac boat
Step 2: Choose the Right Time of Year
Whale watching tours in Vancouver are available from April to October, with peak viewing season from June to September. During these months, the waters around Vancouver are teeming with whales, including orcas, humpback whales, and minke whales.
Step 3: Dress Appropriately
Vancouver’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to dress in layers and wear weather-appropriate clothing. Dress warmly, as it can be colder out on the water. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat are also recommended.
Step 4: Board the Boat
Arrive at the tour operator’s dock early to ensure you have enough time to check in and board the boat. Be prepared to sign a waiver and listen to a safety briefing before the tour begins.
Step 5: Enjoy the Tour
Once your tour begins, sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery of the Vancouver coastline. Keep your eyes peeled for any signs of whales, such as dorsal fins or spouts of water. The tour guides on board will use their experience and expert knowledge to track down the whales and get you as close as possible to them.
Step 6: Take Photos and Videos
Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture all the amazing sights on your whale watching tour. Keep in mind that wild animals can be unpredictable, so be respectful and follow the tour guide’s instructions at all times.
Step 7: Return to the Dock
After the tour is over, return to the dock and disembark the boat. Take a moment to thank your tour guide and the crew for a wonderful experience.
Additional Tips for Whale Watching in Vancouver
- Book your tour in advance to ensure availability during peak season
- Consider taking motion sickness medication if you are prone to seasickness
- Be respectful of the whales and follow the tour guide’s instructions at all times
- Don’t forget to tip your tour guide and the crew if you enjoyed the experience
Book Your Tour Now
Whale watching in Vancouver is an unforgettable experience that is sure to leave you in awe of nature’s incredible beauty. With the right tour operator, timing, and preparation, you can have a safe and enjoyable whale watching tour in Vancouver. Book your tour today and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!
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