Whale watching in Vancouver

Home > Whale watching in Vancouver

In Steveston Village, just south of the bustling city of Vancouver, you will plunge right into a whale watching journey. Relax on your whale watching trip as we transport you through the Fraser River, Strait of Georgia and Gulf Islands in search of some of the many species found along our coast. Step into the ocean world of orcas, or depending on the time of year, perhaps humpback, minke whales, grey whales, porpoises, seals or sea lions, eagles, and a variety of seabirds. For your minimum of 3 to 5 hour whale watching trips, be on the lookout for various species of marine wildlife waiting and local scenery to be discovered. With a higher than 95% sighting success rate we offer a sightings guarantee*!

With the convenience of an indoor and outdoor area, and an upper viewing deck, our boats provide a great place for viewing and photography opportunities on your Vancouver whale watching trip. All boats are equipped with washroom facilities and are coast guard certified and safety inspected annually. Our Captains have extensive experience on the West Coast and a certified Naturalist will join you and provide you with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic view on the marine life and ecosystem that surrounds us.  Your Naturalist will explain all about the animals you see and answer any questions you may have, making your Vancouver whale watching trip not only fun but educational as well. All boats are equipped with hydrophones to hear the whales vocalize. 

What Can We Expect to See On Our Vancouver Whale Watching Trip?

We try to show you as much variety as we can find on our trips, but the animals we see can travel great distances daily so every trip is different! Depending on the time of the year the animals you might see on your whale watching Vancouver trip could vary as well. Probably the most well know cetacean in our waters in the orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca). The transient (mammal-eating) orcas could be spotted anytime throughout the year whereas the resident (fish-eating) orcas (who could also be spotted anytime) are more frequently seen in the summer months as they search for the salmon making its way up to the Fraser River to spawn.  In the spring, the migrating Grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) have been making their way north from their breeding grounds in Mexico. On their journey towards Northern BC and Alaska every once in a while a couple may wander within our range if food is abundant enough for them. Another possibility is the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), also mostly migratory making their way north as well.  Minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) are common residents of the coast as well although they are not often seen since they’re so streamlined and elusive! Apart from the larger species we might also be lucky enough to spot harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) or Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) on our trip. Also keep your eyes on both water and land for harbour seals (Phoca vitulina), California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), and Stellar sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus).

What Else Do I Need to Know About My Vancouver Whale Watching Tour?

Ask about our shuttle service from downtown Vancouver or Richmond where we can pick you up at your hotel at an additional charge of $10 per person, or our on board lunch which you can pre-order at an additional cost through a local deli. Complimentary water and granola bars are provided during the whale watching tour.  There are washroom facilities on board. You may also wish to bring food/beverages, camera, sunscreen, hat, soft soled shoes, and a warm jacket.

We support PWWA (Pacific Whale Watching Association) guidelines for responsible whale watching and are proud to donate a portion of proceeds towards local marine research programs. Learn More Here

Whatever else you do in British Columbia, don’t miss this Steveston whale watching trip — you’ll have a “whale of a tale” to tell!

 

Our newly-built zodiac style vessel.

* Guaranteed sightings: If we don’t see whales we will offer you a return pass, allowing you to come again for free until you see whales! This pass has no expiry date but is not transferable and has no cash value.  We have a great appreciation for these amazing creatures and believe it is essential that we respect their behavior and habitat. As a good precaution, please book your trip accordingly with your vacation plans so that you can reschedule if necessary.

Please note that these are adventure tours. It is possible for water to become choppy with high winds, and your safety is our primary concern. Those in questionable health, who have neck or back injuries, or are in the late stages of pregnancy should consider whether these tours are appropriate.

Book Your Whale Watching Trip Now

In recent years the majestic humpback whale has been sighted more and more on our whale watching tours. Humpback watching in Vancouver can be quite special as they are the largest whale we would encounter on one of our tours. Growing up to around 16 metres in size, these ocean giants travel from Mexico (some from Hawaii) where they spend their winters, up to BC and Alaska in the summer where they feed before repeating the migration again in the fall. The humpback whales Vancouver typically sees are solo travellers or mother/calf pairs in most cases.

When is the Best Time to See Humpback Whales in Vancouver?

The best humpback viewing times can vary year to year but since being targeted many years ago in the whaling period their numbers have thankfully rebounded and over the past couple of years we have been seeing them as early as late-April. In some years sightings continued sporadically throughout our season. Hopefully each year humpback whale watching will become more and more frequent! We can’t predict when we’ll see them, but when we do, it sure is a treat!

The iconic black and white Vancouver orca is one of the most popular and sought after sightings on a Vancouver whale watching tour. Although we can never guarantee with 100% certainty that orcas will be the whale species we see on any given day, they are the species we encounter most often.

The best orca watching Vancouver has to offer can really be any time of the year! We are lucky enough to encounter 2 types of orca whales in Vancouver and area; the transient (Bigg’s) type orca, and the Southern Resident orca. Both appear very similar but vary drastically in behaviour. The transient prey on mammals such as seals, porpoises and sea lions (sometimes even other whales), while travelling in smaller, usually related pods of 3-7 individuals. They travel along the coast and can be spotted anytime of the year. The Resident orca target fish, mostly Chinook salmon and they visit our range predominantly in the summer months when the salmon make their way towards the rivers to spawn. Vancouver orca can always surprise us though and either type has been sighted in all months of our season! Check out our Vancouver Orca whale adventures.

What’s in a name? Orca or Killer Whale?

We often hear the name killer whale when referring to orcas. They are not 2 separate species but one and the same. It is thought that they earned this title many years ago when they were referred to as “whale killers” from observers who saw them (likely transient type) attacking other whales and over time the name became “killer whale”. Now that they are much better understood, and various orca types have been identified around the world. They are excellent hunters whether they are residents or transients, and the name when used today interchangeably with orca, does not have the negative association it once held. Whether you call them orcas or killers whales Vancouver is a great place to try and spot them!

People often ask if young children can join the tour. Absolutely! Children under the age of 8 are welcome on our semi-enclosed vessels. Family whale watching tours are a great way to spend the day on the water and introduce children to the incredible scenery and marine wildlife on our coast! All of our boats have a toilet onboard and indoor, outdoor and upper viewing decks, so you can move around the boat as needed, wherever you and your family are most comfortable. For all ages whale watching in comfort is a must! Our indoor sections can be closed off and heated in cooler seasons when it can be quite chilly on the water. For your younger children (or guests of any age really) who would like to colour, we can provide marine colouring pages to keep young hands busy while we’re travelling in search of whales and other marine wildlife! Family whale watching trips are great for both visitors and locals alike who are looking for a unique way to spend time with your loved ones! Join us on your family adventure today! Family whale watching packages are also available, so ask about these group rates when you book your tour!