CANADA NORTH AMERICA

A Guide To Whale Watching In Canada: Orca In The Wild!

Orca Whales braching in Vancouver Island, Canada

Since watching Free Willy as a little girl I always dreamt of seeing Orca/Killer Whales in the wild. Whilst Orca can be found in all of the worlds oceans it is widely accepted that Canada is the best place in the world to see them, and in particular Vancouver Island.

As we started planning our travels around Western Canada we knew that our number one priority was a whale watching tour, in hope of seeing these beautiful creature with our own eyes. We decided that this would be a super fun activity to do to celebrate our two year anniversary, so we decided to book a tour for that specific date. I researched all of the tour companies and despite their being many reputable ones to choose from I kept reading fantastic things over and over about a little tour company called Ocean EcoVentures.

 

Whale Watching, Orca In The Wild of Canada!

 

Ocean EcoVentures departs from Cowichan Bay, about an hour north of Victoria. Whilst there is a small amount of public transport available on the island it was quite hard finding accurate timetables and availability, so we decided to hire a car (which would also give us a way to get to the rest of the island).
This small, family operated company guarantee a Whale sighting in their tours, particularly between May 15th and September 15th when the Whales are more commonly sighted. If you don’t see a sighting the website says that you will receive a complimentary tour for another day. They also firmly stick to the 100ft rule, which means boats are not supposed to get closer than 100ft from the whales so as to not interfere with their natural movement and to not create trauma for them (though at one point some of the pod had disappeared and we were at a standstill waiting to see where they had gone when they jumped out mere metres from our boats, which gave us great photo oppurtunities as well as the ability to watch them up close for a few minutes).

 

Whale Watching, Orca In The Wild of Canada!

 

We were so pleased that we chose this tour. The boat can only hold 12 people so it’s a really nice and intimate sized group and it means that you are able to ask your guide more questions and not have to hold your camera above a sea of heads.
We went on a super hot day and were dreading have to put on the mandatory floatation outfit, but as the captain said it would, by time we got out to sea the temperature dropped drastically and we were all very grateful for the warmth of the gear. If you are going on a day that isn’t particularly warm I do recommend taking a jacket as well.

 

Whale Watching, Orca In The Wild of Canada!

 

We didn’t want to get our hopes too high in seeing Orca but we need not worry, within thirty minutes we stumbled upon a pod of almost 30 Orca Whales. These Whales belonged to the ‘J Pod’ family, made famous in the movie Free Willy as the family that he was from (in real life the Whale that played Willy, Keiko, was captured from Iceland and not apart of the J Pod). We were so lucky to see this incredible pod, which even had two calf’s (baby whales). They were sleeping for majority of the trip, which simply put means they are just swimming around calmly (which was exciting enough) but luckily for us they ended up waking towards the end of our tour resulting in seeing incredible jumps (spyhopping and breaching in technical words). It sure looks like fun being a whale, especially an Orca (which by the way have now become my favourite animal).

 

Whale Watching, Orca In The Wild of Canada!

 

We also briefly followed two Humpback Whales, but we were all less excited about them.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Orca spend their whole lives with their family, isn’t that so lovely?
Fun Fact #2 Did you know there are two types of Orca, resident and transient. Resident Orca only eat fish, and in particular Salmon, whilst Transient Orca eat any kind of mammals including Seals and Dolphins and even other small whales. Transiest and Resident Orcas never mate or interact with each other.

The tour is supposed to run for 3-4 hours but luckily for us the tour ran close to 5 hours as the captain/guides just love their job so much they couldn’t bring themselves to drive away from the Orca.

It was an absolutely amazing day and we feel so lucky to have seen them so active and playful. I highly recommend Ocean EcoVentures tours (but I’m sure you’d enjoy it no matter who you go with).

 

Check out this little video I created of our experience!

Note: I was not paid for this recommendation in any way or form and all opinions are my own. 

 

Have you ever been lucky enough to see Orca in the wild?
If not is this something you would like to experience?
Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply Panda 16/11/2016 at 6:08 pm

    This seems to be a fun experience.. would love doing it 🙂

  • Reply Kassie 11/11/2016 at 1:37 am

    This seems like such a cool experience. I always prefer to see beautiful creatures like this in their natural habitat. I would love to do this tour one day, so I will keep this company in mind 🙂

  • Reply Kreete 11/11/2016 at 12:09 am

    Omg, this is awesome! I love that video! Hiring a car is always a good idea to get around! Can’t wait to be over 25 so I wouldn’t have to pay stupid extra fees for that ha! And isn’t it weird how the temperature drops as soon as you get out i the water? Love these photos!! So cute!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 22/11/2016 at 2:55 pm

      Oh yes, the extra fees when you are under 25 is a killer isn’t it! Thanks so much for reading.

  • Reply Love from scotland 10/11/2016 at 5:09 pm

    This is so cool. We were in BC in September and I really do wish we’d taken a whale watching trip whilst we were there. I just kept seeing these huge boats go out and it put me off. So nice to hear of this company.

  • Reply Lydia@LifeUntraveled 10/11/2016 at 4:42 pm

    Wow – I can’t believe how close you were able to get to the whales and how close they are to shore! You have some great pictures – it must have been quite an experience.

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 22/11/2016 at 2:58 pm

      Thank you. We got so lucky that the whales came to us. Such an incredible experience indeed. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply Leah 10/11/2016 at 3:50 am

    I haven’t been lucky enough to see orcas in the wild like this! Gosh, I’d love to do this one day though. Your pictures make it seems definitely worth it.

  • Reply Taylor 10/11/2016 at 12:02 am

    i’ve always wanted to see a whale in the wild!! I loved free willy as a kid too! awesome post

  • Reply Katie 09/11/2016 at 11:18 pm

    I am dying to go whale watching and am so jealous of you! Your video is great too 🙂

  • Reply Stacey 09/11/2016 at 8:45 pm

    Oh my God. This looks amazing. Orcas are one whale I’ve been dying to see. I think I will have to book a whale watching tour somewhere next time or just head up here and do the same as you!

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