Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright

Whale Watching

Nature's finest adventure

Whale Watching

Whale watching around the west coast of Vancouver Island is an exciting seafari. Though many whales feed on the West coast, it is the gray whales, the humpback whales, and the orca that are most often sighted. 

Each year, North Pacific gray whales migrate between the Bearing Sea and Mexico. Some 20,000 gray whales take part in the migration. In our area, these thirty-ton giants are typically seen in early spring (March through April), although, over 200 gray whales tend to stay and feed during the summer months. Sightings are especially common around Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound.

Humpback whales can grow up to 16 meters in length, and are easy to spot due to their massive size. Humpback whales are well-known for their aquatic acrobatics, occasionally, jumping completely out of the water and slapping the waves with their tails. They also know for their songs during breeding season. Sightings are most common from August to October. Most humpback whale sightings are offshore (during fishing trips, etc.); however, they do tend to feed in the inlets around Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound, and can be spotted there, as well.

Orcas (actually dolphins, not whales) are not seen as often in the Ucluelet and Tofino area as are gray whales and humpback whales. (Orcas are more common on the east side of Vancouver Island.) However sightings do occur. Transient orcas are most common in our area. Transient orcas feed on mammals--sea lions, seals, and porpoises--and have unpredictable travel patterns. They are most likely to be seen between May and September, but sightings are possible year-round. (Note that resident orcas--those that feed on fish and travel in pods--are common in the southern part of Vancouver Island, and are not usually seen in our area.)

As an added bonus, on any whale-watching tour, you have the possibility of being joined by porpoises or white-sided dolphins. And don't miss the large populations of seals, Stellar sea lions, California sea lions, and sea otters that are always that are always out and about in the Ucluelet and Tofino area.

Tour Guides

A number of excellent companies offer whale-watching tours in the Ucluelet/Tofino area.

Subtital Adventures was the first whale watching company on the west coast. Brian Congdon and his experienced crew know most of the whales by name. Whether you choose a relaxing ride on the Dixie IV or take a thrilling ride on a zodiac, Brian and his team will thrill you with the abundant wildlife in the area.
  • Phone: 250-726-7336
  • Email:

Jamie's Whaling Station has been around for over 30 years. They have whale watching tours our of Ucluelet and Tofino daily.  You can relax on a cruiser-style whale watching vessel or enjoy the excitement of touring on an RHIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat, or zodiac).
  • Phone: 877-726-7444
  • Email:

Archipelago Wildlife Cruises offers a variety of cruises aboard the Raincoast Maiden, an elegant 53-foot motor yacht. Choose from a tour of the Broken Group Islands, an evening wildlife cruise, a private charter. Planning a wedding, but finding the details overwhelming? Why not ditch the whole thing and elope? Archipelago Wildlife Cruises can help with that. They'll take of all the details: officiant, photographer, flowers. You just relax, and enjoy the perfect wedding.
  • Phone: 250-726-8289
  • Email:

Cameron Ocean Adventures has morning and afternoon whale watching tours on the Nootka Princess, their 43-foot Delta Marine Sportfisher Charter Vessel. Tours usually last between 3-4 hours. During the tour, you'll visit the Broken Group Islands and various points of interest in Barkley Sound. All locations provide unique photo opportunities.
  • Phone: 778-400-5800
  • Email:

West Coast Wild offers you a different perspective on whale watching while you fly in a float plane over mountains, past water falls, and over the majestic Pacific Ocean with whales spouting below. It is the best way to visit the Hot Springs since you arrive before all the other tours arrive. For a more imaginative way to observe water falls, try West Coast Wild's  Zip Line


Zodiac Whale Watching Tour

An unforgettable experience, perfectly pitched. Our skipper and guide, Dylan, had a very welcoming and easy-going manner coupled with amazing local and wildlife knowledge. You knew everything he did and said was to be totally trusted. The fast boat ride out to see the whales was so exciting! We had such a lot of time to spot and follow a Humpback whale which was incredible, with Dylan making sure we knew exactly where to look. We also saw a sea otter, sea lions, porpoises and bald eagles. A tour not to be missed!

-TheCavs, Trip Advisor

Breathtaking tour that we won't easily forget

We were lucky to be the last guests on Al & Toddy's sailing home for this season. The weather conditions were perfect and we felt very much at home during this very personal and entertaining boat trip. A trip on which we spotted grey whales, bears, eagles, sea lions and a sea otter. Therewith completing 'the big 5' of this part of our planet. We are very happy to have lived this day the way we did and surely recommend it to anyone who is keen for a well serviced, well catered, knowledgeable and personal tour on the waters of Vancouver Island.

-Jeroen B, Trip Advisor


The whale watching tour was done by highly qualified personal and took an hour longer than formerly announced as the crew did everything to show as much wildlife as possible: orcas, sealion, sea otters, baldheaded eagles and even a huge blackbear were to be found on our tour. Great job, experience of a lifetime.

-Dorothee E, Trip Advisor

Ready to visit? Book, today!


Explore Other Local Attractions