Experience Killer Whales, Humpbacks and Gray Whales, porpoises, seals and more in their natural habitat on a 3 to 5 hour tour in an open or semi-covered zodiac style boat. Enjoy commentary delivered by professional wildlife guides as you travel through the spectacular Gulf and San Juan Islands. On board hydrophones allow you to hear first-hand the wild calls of the Orcas.
Looking for a Whale Watching experience you will remember and want to talk about for a long time?
Your whale watching tour, starts in the picturesque West Coast fishing village of historic Steveston (30 minutes south of Vancouver) and travels through the spectacular Gulf and San Juan Islands. The whale watching tour focuses on Southern Resident Killer Whales, Transient Killer Whales, majestic Humpback whales, and other marine wildlife such as porpoises, sea lions, seals and bald eagles.
The Killer Whales come to this region to feed on the salmon that are returning to the Fraser River to spawn. The salmon start to migrate up river in May and continue into October. There are three pods (families) of Killer Whales that return to this area every year and they consist of approximately 80 whales.
Whale Watching Season: April 1 to October 31
Duration: 3 to 5 hours
Choose Your Boat - When booking your experience, you will be able to choose between the Explorathor II (Open Zodiac Vessel) and the Express (Semi Covered Zodiac Vessel).
The Explorathor is a 47 passenger, zodiac style vessel, with an open seating area in the front and a semi covered seating area in the rear. The featured highlight of this vessel is the upper level observation deck which will provide passengers a superior view of the whales. Rain suits, hats and gloves are provided for passengers travelling on the Explorathor.
The Express is a 45 passenger zodiac style vessel. It offers a fast and comfortable ride, ideal for families and groups. The bow of the Express has a clear glass roof and slide up windows for unobstructed viewing - the windows slide up not across. This vessel has comfortable bench seating and an open observation deck at the stern which is perfect for photographers. Operates open July and August.
The Explorathor II and the Express vessels are powered by the most fuel efficient engines available. These water jet propelled boats are driven by turbo engines that exceed emission standard requirements. The benefit to the environment is that the vessels are extremely safe around marine mammals and have significantly reduced environmental impact. The benefits to our passengers is a faster, quieter and smoother ride.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is the trip 3 to 5 hours long?
Each trip is a unique experience and adventure where we look at wild animals in their national habitat. Sometimes they are close to our departure point and other times you'll have to travel further to get to them. The trip length is determined by where the whales are found.
How close do we get to the whales?
Vancouver Whale Watch observes the guidelines established by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA). You are allowed to get within 100 meters (100 yards) of the whales. At this distance you get an excellent view of the whales.
I have young children. Do you recommend this activity for them?
Vancouver Whale Watch considers whale watching a family activity and children are certainly welcome on the trip. Keep in mind that the trips can be 5 hours long. Children are required to remain seated while the boat is in motion.
What are the chances of seeing whales?
The chance of seeing Orcas varies with the seasons. Vancouver Whale Watch works with a network of whale watching operators and share sighting information. This gives them a sighting success rate of about 90%. As you travel through the Gulf and San Juan Islands you will see a variety of wildlife, including seals, sea lions, porpoises, eagles and more.
What if we don't see whales?
Vancouver Whale Watch offers a return guarantee. If you do not see whales on your trip come again for free until you do, no expiry date.
Need to know:
- Both ocean going vessels are equipped with washrooms.
- Tours not recommended for those suffering from neck/back problems, persons in frail health or pregnant women.
- Children 3 and under free of charge (must be accompanied by an adult)
Vancouver Whale Watch reserves the right to cancel any trip due to weather conditions, mechanical problems or unforseen circumstances.
Vancouver Whale Watch reserves the right to substitute vessels.
Shuttle service: If you are in downtown Vancouver, Vancouver Whale Watch has a shuttle service available (additional fees apply).
Vancouver Whale Watch supports PWWA guidelines for responsible whale watching. In an effort to support our oceans and marine wildlife research, Vancouver Whale Watch has implemented a conservation fee of $2.00 per person. This fee will be collected at the time of check-in.
Vancouver Whale Watch is Vancouver’s largest and most experienced whale watching company! Whether you are on vacation in Vancouver or looking for fun & unique things to do in your home town, whale watching tour is a Vancouver boat tour not to be missed.