A guide wearing a yellow rain jacket and a blue cap on a Prince of Whales tour scans the water through a pair of binoculars

Top Places to Spot Whales in BC

Share  Facebook Twitter pinterest logoPinterest
A guide on a Prince of Whales tour

Looking for a great way to connect with BC’s wild? Our coastal waters are a rich marine environment, home to orcas, humpbacks, grey whales, and minkes, as well as dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters, and more. Whale-watching tour operators know the best places to look, and they make sure interactions are enjoyable and informative, as well as safe for both humans and mammals.

Here are some of the best places to spot whales in BC.

Vancouver Island

Off the coast of Vancouver Island | Reuben Krabbe

Victoria & Sooke

When to go: Peak season is May through October

What to expect: Right from Victoria’s scenic Inner Harbour, board a comfortable cruiser complete with washrooms and on-board snacks. The more adventurous can don a floatation suit and opt for a rougher ride on a high-speed zodiac to be closer to the water. Vessels generally head to the Gulf Islands, and Washington State’s San Juan Islands. An hour northwest, in Sooke, tours seek out marine life in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Find Operators
Humpback whale | Eagle Wing Tours/Clint Rivers

Tofino & Ucluelet

When to go: Peak season is March through October

What to expect: Explore the pristine waters of Clayoquot Sound from Tofino, or Barkley Sound from Ucluelet. This stunning coastline is home to thick rainforest and soft, sandy beaches that stretch for miles. The most commonly spotted whale in this area is the grey whale, but occasional humpbacks and orcas make an appearance, too. The area is also popular for bear watching. 

Find Operators
Humpback tail near Campbell River | Boomer Jerritt

Campbell River

When to go: Peak season is April through October

What to expect: Located at the mouth of the Discovery Passage, Campbell River is home to several whale watching tour operators, and it’s easy to see why. The narrow channels and strong currents in this region create nutrient rich waters that attract abundant marine life. In addition to the orcas and humpbacks that pass through regularly, you may also spot dolphins, sea lions, seals, bears, eagles, and more.

Find Operators
Telegraph Cove | Northern Vancouver Island Tourism/Cassandra Casley

Telegraph Cove

When to go: Peak season is May through September

What to expect: Located along Vancouver Island’s northeast coast, Telegraph Cove is one of the best places in the world to see orcas. The protected waters of Johnstone Strait and the Broughton Archipelago are home to around 200 whales each summer. Most of these are orcas, but humpback whales can also be seen here. One of the most memorable ways to encounter these gentle giants is on a kayaking tour. While you’re in the area, visit Telegraph Cove’s Whale Interpretive Centre to see its impressive collection of marine mammal skeletons.

Find Operators

Other Coastal BC Communities

Whale watching tour vessel | Destination Vancouver/Prince of Whales Whale Watching

Vancouver & Richmond

When to go: Peak season is May through October

What to expect: Tours leave from Granville Island in Vancouver and from Steveston Village in the city of Richmond, south of Vancouver. These operators work together, along with companies based in Victoria, to locate whales near the Southern Gulf and San Juan islands. Their success rate finding whales, usually orcas and humpbacks, is typically around 90 per cent.

Find Operators
Prince Rupert marina | Northern BC Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Prince Rupert

When to go: Peak season is mid-July through September

What to expect: This remote section of BC’s north coast is home to some spectacular wildlife. Giant kelp beds attract feeding grey whales, migrating salmon attract orcas, and humpbacks are frequently seen on the surface as they dive and feed. Another popular boat tour out of Prince Rupert is to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary north of the city. 

Find Operators

Learn more about marine mammal viewing best practices.


Originally published in February, 2018.


See what's happening now with these recent posts.

Plan Your Adventure Now

Know Before You Go

Learn about the latest travel updates in BC.

Travel Updates

Always check trail conditions before you head out, and no matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared.

Plan Your Route

Learn the proper protocols so you know what to do if you encounter wildlife.

Learn More
Book Your Experience

Find places to stay, experience providers, and special offers.

Book Now

The Camper's Code has nine rules that are really easy to follow. When all campers follow them, good things happen.

Take the Pledge
Travel Responsibly

Follow these tips to travel safely and responsibly in BC.

See the Tips