Vancouver’s best boat tours for whale watching and wildlife spotting

Jun 21 2022, 6:19 pm

Bring your camera — perhaps sealed in a waterproof bag — and a sense of adventure when embarking on a whale watching or wildlife spotting boat tour from Vancouver.

But remember to pause occasionally and really look at the spectacular natural world around you, not just through your phone or camera lens.

Whale Watching

Local companies know where to find the orcas, humpbacks, grey whales and minke whales and can take you to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. A typical tour lasts three to five hours, depending on where the whales are each day. Sometimes the boats have to venture as far as the waters off Victoria or down into the San Juan Islands.

Most tours operate from April to October, depending on the weather. Trips still go ahead on soggy West Coast days, but are cancelled if the company deems the weather to be not merely damp but dangerous.

Whale watching boats are under strict rules not to get too close to the creatures, for the animals’ health and safety. These are wild animals, not a show at SeaWorld.

All four of Vancouver’s main whale watching companies offer a whale-sighting guarantee: If you don’t see whales during the tour, then your next trip is free. If you still don’t see whales (which is highly unlikely), then you can keep coming back for free until you do spot them.

Prince of Whales

Stay warm and dry in the high-speed catamaran’s heated cabin while experts share fascinating details about the animals you encounter. A free photo package is included with every tour.

Departs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Wild Whales

Choose your own adventure, with boat options ranging from a small Zodiac to a slightly larger open-air vessel to a partly sheltered boat offering some protection from wind and rain. On-board naturalists share their knowledge about marine wildlife and their passion for conservation.

Departs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @wildwhalesvan

Vancouver Whale Watch

You can opt to take a tour in a small Zodiac or a slightly larger, partially covered vessel. Departing from the charming fishing village of Steveston, each trip is led by a professional wildlife guide who is happy to share details about local flora and fauna.

Departs from: Steveston (shuttle available from Vancouver or Richmond)
Instagram: @vanwhalewatch

Steveston Seabreeze Adventures

Each aquatic adventure takes place on either a Zodiac or a semi-enclosed vessel departing from the historic village of Steveston. An on-board naturalist shares information about marine life living along the West Coast.

Departs from: Steveston (shuttle available from Vancouver or Richmond)
Instagram: @seabreezeadventures

Other wildlife tours

Whales may get the bulk of the attention, but there’s more to Vancouver’s marine life than just those impressive ocean creatures. Depending on the day, you might sea lions, seals, dolphins, bald eagles, blue herons, otters and more.

Vancouver Water Adventures

In addition to renting out Sea-Doos, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, Vancouver Water Adventures also offers tours such as City and Seals, which takes you in a Zodiac to see the seal colony in Howe Sound.

Departs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @vancouverwateradventures

Sea Vancouver


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Sea Vancouver offers an array of interesting tours, including City and Wildlife, which transports you by Zodiac to view the seal colony near Lighthouse Park.

Departs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @seavancouver

Sheri RadfordSheri Radford

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