Whale Watching Out Of Nowhere!

Did this just happen? Did I just see a pod of whales swim by in my friends backyard? The day we had a whale watching trip out of nowhere was unbelievable.

Written By: Jay Kennedy, Traveling Islanders

Living on Vancouver Island definitely has its surprise West Coast adventures. You know… a black bear staring back at you from the woods as you drive up Island, your babysitter picking your kids up by boat, or the typical pod of orca whales swimming by in the backyard…

WHAT??? TYPICAL?? There is nothing typical about ANY of that.

I was sitting at a friend’s house in their backyard relaxing and enjoying the ocean view when it happened.

Whale Watching Maple Bay

At the time I was looking down at my new camera trying to figure out some of the features when my friend’s 4 year old casually says “I see whale”.

Whale? What? I look up and see a pod of orcas swimming by RIGHT IN FRONT of us.

I couldn’t even speak. I had never experienced anything like that in my life! Since when do I hang out in a friend’s backyard and a pod of whales swim by? Never!

Surreal none the less… there they were and we had to get closer! But how?

I bolted into ACTION and ran upstairs and yelled “WHALE!” Similar to the same way someone would scream out a warning of impending doom by yelling “FIRE!”

The kids all screamed. Gretta and her friend turned off the dinner they were cooking and we all darted to the awaiting boat at the end of the dock. I use the word “darted” loosely as it was really a mad scramble down the embankment almost an acre. But we all survived and with lifejackets being thrown on the kids, we were ready to go!

4 adults, 7 kids and 1 dog, whale watching out of nowhere! Absolutely Incredible.

We are no whale watching tour professionals, but my friend Skipper Phil skillfully maneuvered the boat to get ahead of the pod in the direction they were swimming. We looked back and they were gone! Did we miss our chance? How long do orca whales stay under water anyway? We all stared out of the water and waited…

Maple Bay Whale Watching 3

SPALOOOSH! The Orca whales surfaced and they were headed right for us!

I grabbed my camera quickly and OH NO! With all the tinkering I was doing earlier, I ran the battery down to zero. I thought to myself, “how am I going to share it with all our Traveling Islander friends?”

Enter the iPhone to save the day once again. I was able to get a few good shots, but I promise everyone, next time I will have my extra battery with me to share some close up’s!

Maple Bay Whale Watching

Maple Bay Whale Watching close

I took it all in… the kids giggling and exclaiming, enjoying the moment with friends, and the realization that we just all had a surprise whale watching trip in a friend’s backyard…

These are the moments when I remember how fortunate we are to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Beautiful Vancouver Island.

If you are in Tofino and you are looking for a quality whale watching tour be sure to our Tofino Whale Watching adventure. 


  • Wow! Just wow!!!! This is amazing, you are so lucky. This life sounds like the stuff dreams are made of. I mean I went to Iceland specifically to see whales, and didn't see a single one, and here you are chilling at a friends and manage to see a Pod of Orcas!!!!!! Brilliant post, your writing really conveys the franticness of the moment and the seer enjoyment you all must of experienced. - Reply

    • Hi Paul! Yes, it was totally unexpected! Such a great memory with the kids and good friends. Come to Vancouver Island and all whale watching companies guarantee whale sightings or a voucher for a free trip! I was actually on BC Ferries today and the announcement came over the intercom that there was a pod of whales off the side of the ferry. No where near as this adventure, but still very cool every time. - Reply