Vancouver’s Best Boat Tours for Whale Watching and Wildlife Spotting


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

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

whale watching

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

Most tours take place from April to October, depending on the weather. Trips still take place on soggy West Coast days, but are canceled if the company deems the weather to be not just wet but dangerous.

Whale-watching boats are subject to strict rules not to get too close to the creatures, for the health and safety of the animals. These are wild animals, not a sight at SeaWorld.

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

prince of whales

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

Differs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

wild whales

Choose your own adventure, with boat options ranging from a small Zodiac to a slightly larger open-top boat, to a partially sheltered boat offering some protection from the wind and rain. Onboard naturalists share their knowledge of marine wildlife and their passion for conservation.

Differs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @wildwhalesvan

Whale Watching in Vancouver

You can choose to take the excursion 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 of the local flora and fauna.

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

Adventures of Steveston Seabreeze

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

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

Other Wildlife Tours

Whales may be the eye-catcher, but there’s more to Vancouver’s marine life than these impressive ocean creatures. Depending on the day, you may see sea lions, seals, dolphins, bald eagles, blue herons, otters and more.

Water Adventures in Vancouver

In addition to renting 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.

Differs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @vancouverwateradventures

Vancouver Sea

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

Differs from: Granville Island
Instagram: @seavancouver


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