September 05, 2012 | Tips from Travellers >
Ucluelet, Whale Watching
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Whale watching tours offer the promise of sightings, but what usually grabs our attention are the tour brochure photos. It's easy to poke fun at the images showing a whale popping out of the ocean within feet of your boat. For our recent wedding anniversary, my husband and I treated ourselves to a four hour Islands, Whales and Bears tour with Ucluelet's Subtidal Adventures. And out in the middle of the Barkley Sound on a sunny weekend afternoon, we struck gold. Here we were, slowly cruising along the water, when a friendly Humpback whale decided to surprise the seven of us. Captain Brian turned off the boat's motor, allowing the whale to pay us repeat visits, within a few feet from the Dixie IV, a charming 1950 former Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue boat. There were no words to describe the reaction that each one of us felt inside upon encountering this curious Humpback. Outside, it was obvious gasps of joy combined with jockeying to get the best angle for photos. After several more moments, the beautiful immense creature finally bid us farewell with an elegant tail dive back into the deep blue sea. This was undoubtedly a rare gift! We did spot more gray and humpback whales during the tour, but none came as close to us as this one had. Our small group also had the chance to view a black bear, sea lions, seals and bald eagles around the Broken Group Islands, a destination for nature lovers on the west coast of Vancouver Island. While Subtidal Adventures offers both the 36 foot Dixie IV cruiser and The Discovery (a 27 foot Zodiac), we opted for the quieter, more relaxing wooden boat while enjoying the beautiful day and nature's bounty. Our four hour tour costs $89 per person plus tax (children 6-12, $69; under 6, $49). Visit the website for more information and schedules. Various ecotours are available year-round.