Victoria whale watching offers up some of the best orca whale viewing experiences in the world. You are guaranteed to see whales or you get a free trip!
Whales. Mighty. Majestic. Magnificent. and Massive
Living on Vancouver Island where some of the world’s most beautiful sea creatures call home sure has its perks. My parents were visiting from way out of town, we hadn’t seen them in nearly a year and we wanted to do something extra special with them.
Going on a Victoria whale watching trip with grandma and grandpa is memorable and certainly special, to say the least.
People come from all over the world to Vancouver Island to go whale watching.
The Gulf Islands off the coast of Vancouver Island boasts one of the best locations in the world to see orca whales in the wild.
When we heard that from our tour guide we were once again reminded of how fortunate we are to be local islanders who get to share our super natural backyard with you!
Grandpa and the boys!
I used to think that going out to see whales would be something to do once, cross it off my bucket list, and move on to the next thing.
But seeing whales, whether just their dorsal fin sticking out of the water or their entire body shooting out of the water and crashing back down into it, is continually a spectacular experience.
Every time it’s a bit different.
There are many ways to see whales off the coast of Vancouver Island and numerous companies to choose from. For this Victoria whale watching excursion, we chose Orca Spirit Adventures. The original Victoria whale watching company.
We were going to see orcas, after all. Seemed fitting.
Our trip started with a simple “what to expect” talk and then a “safety” talk once on the boat and on our way. The journey only took about 45 minutes to get to where the resident orca pod was.
Considerably shorter than whale watching from Vancouver which we have heard can be up to one and half hours before viewing whales.
Speeding along the coastline, wind blasting in our hair and a few salt water splashes on the kids’ faces as they looked over the side of the boat…we were already having fun.
But seriously, look around, it’s stunning here out on the water and the laughter from my middle child was enough to put the whole boat in a good mood.
As the boat came to a stop, we were told about the importance of patience when whale watching. Without it, one might miss the splendour of these mammals.
We were all preparing ourselves for the long haul when I spotted the first fin, just 200 yards off the side of the boat!
Seriously, we hadn’t been there for 30 seconds before we saw it. Immediately, every passenger shifted to the side and many sucked in air in excitement and giddy anticipation.
It was beautiful.
Whale after gorgeous whale popped their fin up, waved their tail, and even breached repeatedly for those of us waiting with binoculars and camera.
The display never seemed to slow down from all angles of the boat.
For over an hour we watched. We squealed. We learned.
We saw the newest orca known to the Vancouver Island area, born just three weeks prior. At one point I even said “oh, how tiny!”
HA! If you call over 400 pounds and 8 feet long “tiny.” That “tiny” bay orca will continue to grow to nearly 27 ft. long and weigh nearly 7 tons!
This resident pod, meaning it lives year round near Vancouver Island and its surround islands, stayed close to us for the entire morning. Our captain dropped a device in the water so we could hear the chatter of these mammoth creatures.
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Our two guides shared a wealth of information and even took pictures for us so we could enjoy the experience with our own eyes.
Orca Fact: They are among the fastest marine mammals, able to reach speeds up to 35 mph.
The boat was large enough to walk around and view from many different spots. Inside we found soft comfy benches with tables, and even a coffee, tea and hot chocolate station.
The room inside was surrounded by windows for the viewing pleasure of many, though I’m pretty sure every passenger was outside enjoying the orcas and sun.
It has a bathroom on board, however you’ll want to empty your bladder before your trip or you may miss a whale swimming right. next. to. the. boat.
Like Jay did because he just couldn’t hold it any longer.
Though the day was beautiful, it’s good to know that it can be a bit chilly as the boat jets along the water to and from the harbour.
We should have brought a bit warmer jackets, but thankfully the Orca Spirit has a few available to those who would like a bit more warmth.
Orca Fact: Many orcas live with their mothers their entire lives.
Our Victoria whale watching experience was incredible and one we won’t soon forget. Well worth it pulling the kids from school for the day for their own family school trip. Big believer in doing that by the way.
On the way back to the harbour, the captain brought each of our kids into her captain’s room (or whatever you call that place from where she drives the boat).
She allowed them to see what she sees, touch the wheel (with her in control, of course) and my daughter even got to radio into the office our position and estimated time of arrival.
How cool is that?
It made me want to be 9 years old for a minute there too.
The staff were fantastic. Knowledgeable and friendly and really added to our overall positive experience.
They understood the balance of sharing information and then just being quiet and letting the passenger enjoy the moment for themselves. It was wonderful.
Our 3 hour tour brought us back to Victoria’s gorgeous harbour. We said our goodbyes and walked over to one of our favourite places for an oceanside picnic lunch – Fisherman’s Wharf.
Orca Spirt Adventures
Rates: $110 for an adult, $90 youth ages 12-17, $80 4-11 years old.
Schedule: 2-3 departure times every day. Click here for times.
Check out their selection of vessels: Zodiacs to comfy covered vessels
Free Shuttle: Orca Spirit Adventures offers a courtesy shuttle service for all guests. They’ll pick you up at your downtown Victoria hotel—and when your whale watching adventure is over, drop you back at the hotel, or if you prefer, anywhere in the Victoria city core.
Location and directions to one of Victoria’s Orca Spirit Adventures departure locations:
While our trip with Orca Spirit Adventures was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.