North Vancouver Island Whale Watching

North Vancouver Island offers up some of the best whale watching in the world. Seeing something so magnificent, so mesmerizing, it’ll stay with you forever.


Nestled in the beautiful boardwalk community of Telegraph Cove sits Stubbs Island Whale Watching.

Telegraph Cove is on the northeastern side of Vancouver Island just 40 minutes south of Port Hardy. It’s a must visit when touring the North Island.

As your Stubbs Island Whale Watching boat leaves the cove, the beauty of the surrounding islands begins to seep into your bones. It’s a profound picturesque scene that regardless of whether you ever see ocean wildlife, you will love the natural rugged untouched beauty of this region.

Before stepping onto the boat for our whale watching adventure, our group met our captain and two Stubbs Island naturalists that accompanied us for our three hour excursion. If you happen to be nervous about heading out to sea in a boat, you needn’t worry with the staff at Stubbs Island Whale Watching.

They are professional and passionately knowledgeable, not to mention, incredibly seasoned.

After a safety briefing, we boarded our vessel and found our spots. The boat was big and spacious to walk around comfortably. Just some steep steps to get upstairs and a little bathroom (hey, it’s a boat!), but other than that, there was plenty of room for the 40+ people we had.

And with seating both inside and out, we were happy rain or shine.

Our particular day we had some of the most gorgeous sunshine the north island ever sees. So all of us were outside as we left the harbour.

We were told there was much wildlife to see, but I wasn’t prepared for how quickly we would enjoy the animals. As the boat moved through the waters, an eagle perched himself (or herself…I really can’t tell the difference) atop a tree for our enjoyment.

And not to be outdone, we sailed near a harbour seal-filled island.

These cute and curious ocean creatures watched us as much as we watched them. And a few even slinked into the water to get a closer look.

But I don’t think I was prepared for the awe-ness (yes, I just made that word up) of what we saw a few minutes later.

My eyes scanned the horizon and my suspicions were confirmed by our on-board naturalists. The unmistakeable large dorsal fins gave them away.

Orca whales were close.

A local pod of about 7 were swimming through the channel including one mama and her new calf! The excitement in the boat was high, but everyone was silent. And not because we had to be silent, but because when seeing something so magnificent, sometimes words just don’t work.

Time stood still.

The engine stopped and we just sat in the water watching the beauty of these special mammals.

I don’t know how long we watched the orcas. I’m glad I wasn’t in charge of keeping to the schedule. Because wildlife is unpredictable. And whales are mesmerizing. Our watchful captain, however, saw something more for us and started up the engines once again.

Our day wasn’t over and I think we were all glad to stay out longer to see more.

As the boat meandered, it was humpbacks that chose to entertain us. Now these guys are really huge. But I think, secretly, they toy with us.

With next to no dorsal fin, their backs barely come out of the water. But if you’re patient enough, they will occasionally reward you with a peek at their tail.

And it’s no less awe-inspiring than the beauty of the orca.

They swam all around us. At one point we were completely surrounded and treated to the dance of the whales.

I didn’t want it to end.

They were everywhere and it was simply magical to be surrounded by these giant ocean dwellers that we don’t get to see in the wild every day.

I suppose that’s how it is when watching these creatures. They are mysterious, but we are learning more about them every year. And by “we,” I mean humanity.

All good things must come to an end. But before our tour ended, we were treated to yet another species of wildlife. Towards the end of the summer, stellar sea lions make their way to the area. Their loud “growls” sound more like a bear than anything else and their agility is surprising.

They look completely fat, but somehow they manage to flop their way up the rock for a comfortable perch. You can’t help but smile.

Before our boat entered the Telegraph Cove Harbour, we stopped in a quiet, wind-protected area, and learned from one of our on-board naturalists.

Her genuine love and passion for these whales definitely shone through. Because of the markings behind each orca’s dorsal fin and every humpback’s tail, she knew their names. As she spoke, I realized our boat had seamlessly turned into an ocean classroom. Never before had we experienced such in-depth learning about all the wildlife we had just witnessed.

Only it didn’t feel like we were in school.

Rather, the joy transferred from our naturalist to us and we couldn’t help but realize how special these animals are. It was an incredible experience.

Every whale watching trip with Stubbs Island is a chance to learn about the incredible wildlife here.

Telegraph Cove, Killer Whale Cafe, Killer Whale Restaurant, North Island

Entering Telegraph Cove Harbour was just a beautiful as when we ventured out.

This oceanside town steeped in history is gorgeous. We said our goodbyes and then made our way to Killer Whale Cafe for the best bbq smoked salmon ever. The day was perfect from start to finish.

We highly recommend including North Vancouver Island in your plans when you come visit the Island. And when you do, whale watching is an absolute must.

For more Vancouver Island vacation tips and Vancouver Island travel tips try our interactive activity map!


Stubbs Island Whale Watching (North Vancouver Island)

Website: stubbs-sightings.com
Phone: 1-800-665-3066
Cost for Whale Watching Tour:  Current rates

Stubbs Island Whale Watching is British Columbia’s 1st whale watching company: Founded in 1980, Stubbs Island was the first company to offer tours that were specifically designed to educate guests about killer whales in the wild. As leaders in ethical wildlife viewing, education and conservation, Stubbs Island takes pride in setting the standard for responsible, educational and ethical wildlife tours.

Google Map Directions To Stubbs Island Whale Watching In Telegraph Cove, North Vancouver Island:

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