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11 Best Whale Watching Tours in Victoria BC (for 2024)

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The capital city of British Columbia, Victoria, is a perfect destination for whale-watching enthusiasts, and there are countless opportunities to have an unforgettable experience. From the spectacular shorelines of the Gulf Islands to the breathtaking views of Johnstone Strait, we bring you the best whale watching tours in Victoria BC. 

Whale watching in Victoria BC

These handpicked excursions provide a front-row seat to the beauty and grandeur of marine wildlife in their natural habitat. 

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran, the wide array of tour operators in Victoria BC will ensure that your experience is something you won’t forget.

11 Best Whale Watching Tours in Victoria, BC

Whale Watching Victoria BC

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BEST WHALE WATCHING TOUR IN VICTORIA BC

Our pick is the Half Day Whale Watching Tour from Victoria because it provides an in-depth excursion with knowledgeable naturalists on board and a FREE photography package (which is a great souvenir). Plus they have frequent departures every day to fit your itinerary and schedule.

From zodiac boats to luxury cruises, whale-watching tours come in all shapes and sizes. Each tour typically lasts between two and four hours, depending on the specific operator you choose. 

Most tours can accommodate up to twelve passengers, making it easy for groups of all sizes to enjoy the experience together. 

Floatation suit for whale watching in Victoria BC
Floatation suit for whale watching in Victoria BC

During the trip, knowledgeable naturalists will share fascinating facts about local wildlife and point out interesting sights along the way.

We will go over all the amazing whale-watching tours that depart from Victoria BC below, 

1. Half-Day Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria (3 – 4 hours)

Humpback whale breaching off the coast of Victoria British Columbia.JPG
Humpback whale breaching off the coast of Victoria British Columbia

BOOK this half-day whale watching adventure from Victoria 

♡ RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars – with more than 1200 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Prince of Whales Whale Watching
  • ☑ Winner of the Viator Experience Award 2023
  • ☑ Expert guide – knowledgeable naturalists on board
  • ☑ Multiple departures throughout the day
  • ☑ Free photo package of your trip 
  • ☑ Duration: 3 to 4 hours

Why choose this tour?

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking splendor of Canada’s marine wildlife during this captivating 3-hour whale-watching expedition in Victoria – one of the highly rated and popular tours! 

You will enjoy the views from a specially designed semi-covered vessel, which is optimal for whale-watching as you sail along the breathtaking Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

There is ample space to soak in the sun or cozy up indoors…..and there are two washrooms on board. 

What we love about this tour is that you get a free photo package included which will be a great reminder for your trip and a perfect Canada souvenir. 

With the guidance of knowledgeable naturalists, you can learn about the fascinating creatures that inhabit these waters and get up close with some of nature’s most majestic marine wildlife. 

🛒 Click to book this half-day whale watching adventure from Victoria

2. Victoria: 3-Hour Zodiac Whale-Watching Tour (3 hours)

Zodiac whale watching tours
Zodiac whale watching tours

BOOK this 3-hour zodiac whale-watching tour from Victoria

♡ RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars – with more than 235 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Orca Spirit Adventures Whale Watching
  • ☑ Certified marine naturalist Zodiac driver on board
  • ☑ Hydrophones to listen to whale calls
  • ☑ Full flotation cruiser suits
  • ☑ Multiple tours throughout the day
  • Duration: 3 hours

Why choose this tour?

Zodiac tours are extremely popular when it comes to whale watching. You will be cruising along in an open boat on the Salish Sea, and see many marine animals like orcas, humpback, minke, and gray whales, as well as porpoises and seals.

For your safety, you will be provided with a flotation suit. Keep in mind there are no washrooms or covers over your heads. 

Each zodiac boat has some storage box for your belongings, and it can accommodate up to 12 passengers at a given time. 

I took a zodiac boat tour in the evening and it was so much fun and thrilling at the same time! 

The operator was a trained marine naturalist, and he shared many informative details about the sea and its inhabitants. 

The chances of spotting whales on such a tour are very high, so this is a great option to consider! 

🛒 Click to book this 3-hour zodiac whale-watching tour from Victoria

3. From Victoria: Whale Watching 3-Hour Trip on Covered Boat

BOOK this 3-hour whale-watching tour on a covered boat from Victoria

♡ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars – with more than 135 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Orca Spirit Adventures Whale Watching
  • ☑ Hotel pickup and drop-off from downtown Victoria
  • ☑ Enjoy complimentary hot beverages 
  • ☑ Indoor (covered) and outdoor viewing areas (and bathrooms)
  • ☑ Whale watching guarantee (or a complimentary second-time tour)
  • Duration: 3 hours

Why choose this tour?

Prefer the comfort of a covered vessel? Then pick this 3-hour whale-watching tour. 

This tour is spacious to fit larger groups and offers modern amenities for a comfortable 3-hour trip sailing the Pacific Ocean around Vancouver Island. 

Plus you also get complimentary hot beverages and both indoor and outdoor viewing areas!

You will be guided by certified marine naturalists who will share their knowledge and passion for Vancouver Island’s marine wildlife with you. 

Along the way, you will spot porpoises, harbor and elephant seals, otters, and marine birds such as cormorants and bald eagles. 

Enjoy the complimentary hotel pickup and drop-off and relax with guaranteed whale sightings and a conservation fee included in the tour price.

In the event of an unlucky tour, you will be invited to join again for a complimentary second whale-watching tour. Note that this is a carbon-neutral tour. 

🛒 Click to book this 3-hour whale-watching tour on a covered boat from Victoria

4. Victoria, BC: 3-Hour Ultimate Whale & Marine Wildlife Tour (3 hour)

Best whale watching tours in Victoria BC
Wild Killer Whale Watching at Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Broughton Archipelago

BOOK this 3-hour whale and marine wildlife tour from Victoria 

♡ RATING: 4.6 Out of 5 stars – with more than 84 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Five Star Whale Watching
  • ☑ Whale and marine life watching
  • ☑ High-speed coastal explorer boat with a heated cabin
  • ☑ Complimentary coffee and hot chocolate 
  • ☑ Marine biologist on board
  • Duration: 3 hours

Why choose this tour?

Step into a high-speed coastal explorer boat and enjoy a 3-hour tour of the West Coast with a marine biologist onboard. 

Sail to see orcas, humpbacks, harbor seals, California sea lions, and over 127 species of marine birds! There are indoor and outdoor seating areas, and a heated cabin, in case you are cold. 

Also included in your tour price is complimentary coffee and hot chocolate, and the use of jackets on board. 

🛒 Click to book this 3-hour whale and marine wildlife tour from Victoria

5. Victoria: Whale and Wildlife Semi-Covered Boating Tour (4 hours)

Orca Whale Watching, Victoria, BC, Canada.
Orca Whale Watching, Victoria, BC, Canada

BOOK this whale and wildlife semi-covered boating tour

♡ RATING: 4.9 out of 5 stars – with more than 12 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Tours
  • ☑ Luxurious catamaran
  • ☑ Naturalist onboard
  • Duration: 4 hours

Why choose this tour?

Enjoy a luxurious 4 hour excursion into the seas by sailing on a semi-covered catamaran with multiple outdoor and inside viewing options, two washrooms, comfortable leather seating, and much more.

You will have ample time to look out for whales, seals, and eagles, among other residents of the region, and in the presence of a naturalist guide, you will get to learn more about the West Coast, marine history, and wildlife!

🛒 Click to book this whale and wildlife semi-covered boating tour

6. Victoria: Whale Watching Cruise by Covered Boat (4 hours)

Southern resident killer whale (Orca) off the coast of Victoria
Southern resident killer whale (Orca) off the coast of Victoria

BOOK this whale-watching cruise by covered boat

♡ RATING: 4.7 out of 5 stars – with more than 110 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Prince of Whales
  • ☑ Free photo package
  • ☑ Complimentary hot drinks (and snacks available for purchase)
  • ☑ Downloadable guides (in many languages, as well as books for kids)
  • Duration: 4 hours

Why choose this tour?

Head to the seas in the presence of not one but three marine naturalists who will share their knowledge of the Salish Sea, and its wildlife, from whales to bald eagles.

The tour is a 4 hour sightseeing excursion that is conducted in a covered boat which is custom designed for the purposes of whale watching. You can enjoy the heated indoor cabin and the open sundecks which are perfect for spotting wildlife. 

The tour stops at various points of interest within the protected waters of the Haro Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca, where your captain will position the boat parallel to the animals for great photo opportunities.

As part of the tour, you will also receive free high-resolution photos of the wildlife, and the landscape, and also have your pictures taken. You will also receive downloadable guides and coloring books for little ones!

🛒 Click to book this whale-watching cruise by covered boat

7. Victoria: Guided Wildlife-Watching Tour by Catamaran (3 hours)

Killer Whales pod in Vancouver Island
Killer Whales pod in Vancouver Island, British Columbia

BOOK this guided wildlife-watching tour by Catamaran 

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Tours
  • ☑ Marine wildlife excursion
  • ☑ Pick up and drop off from all hotels/accommodation
  • Duration: 3 hours

Why choose this tour?

This is one of the newest offerings on GetYourGuide. On this 3-hour tour, you will be out sailing on a catamaran and sighting wintering birds, seals, sea lions, and playful porpoises. 

The chances of whale sightseeing on this excursion are 50-70% – this tour is worth it if you wish to learn about wildlife through identification kits and learn about the region’s residents from a naturalist guide. If you spot a whale, you will be provided with a hydrophone.

🛒 Click to book this guided wildlife-watching tour by Catamaran

8. Victoria: Sunset Whale Watching Tour

Killer whale swimming at sunset time
Killer whale swimming next to a boat at sunset time

BOOK this sunset whale-watching tour from Victoria

♡ RATING: 4.6 out of 5 stars – with more than 27 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Five Star Whale Watching
  • ☑ Sunset tour
  • ☑ Complimentary beverages offered
  • ☑ Expert guide on site
  • ☑ Sail on a 12-passenger coastal explorer
  • Duration: 3 hours

Why choose this tour?

Heading to the seas in the evening under the sunset glow is so mesmerizing! You can soak in the amazing golden hue on this 3-hour guided tour of whale watching and marine wildlife sighting. 

The excursions take off on a 12-passenger vessel called the Salish Shadow – a High-Speed Coastal Explorer. 

During the 3-hour tour, search for orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, and gray whales, that visit the Salish Sea in search of food. As part of the tour, you will be offered hot beverages as well as jackets onboard. 

🛒 Click to book this sunset whale-watching tour from Victoria

9. Sunset Whale Watching Adventure from Victoria (4 hours)

Sunset views from boat tour
Sunset views from a boat tour

BOOK this sunset whale-watching adventure from Victoria

♡ RATING: 4.9 out of 5 stars – with more than 334 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Prince of Whales Whale & Marine Wildlife Adventures
  • ☑  Luxury catamaran – Salish Sea Eclipse
  • ☑ Free photography package
  • ☑ Sunset tour
  • Duration: 4 hours

Why choose this tour?

This sunset tour is a photographer’s delight, and perfect for those who wish to explore in comfort. The cruise takes off in a covered vessel with a heated cabin (Salish Sea Eclipse), and three viewing decks. 

The tour takes you along the Strait of Juan de Fuca in search of orcas and humpback whales. You have a knowledgeable guide on board who will be answering all of your marine wildlife-related queries. 

The best part of this tour is a free sunset photography package (high-resolution photos of the wildlife, sunset, and yourself)! 

🛒 Click to book this sunset whale-watching adventure from Victoria

10. Private Zodiac Whale Watching Tour from Victoria (3 hours)

Humpback whale  in Victoria
Humpback whale in Victoria

BOOK this private zodiac whale watching tour from Victoria

Why choose this tour?

This is a private whale watching tour which can be booked for yourself and your party. The tour is led by a trained and certified zodiac operator and naturalist. Full flotation suits are provided for your safety.

The tour lasts 3 hours, and previous guests have loved this experience!

🛒 Click to book this private zodiac whale watching tour from Victoria

11. From Vancouver: Victoria Whale Watching Adventure (8 hours)

BOOK this Victoria whale watching tour from Vancouver + seaplane ride 

♡ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars – with more than 40 positive reviews

Tour Highlights

  • Tour Provider: Harbour Air Seaplanes
  • ☑ Seaplane transfer from Vancouver to Victoria
  • ☑ 3 hour whale watching safari
  • ☑ Best of 2 tours and cities on a single day
  • Duration: 8 hours

Why choose this tour?

Enjoy the best of 2 cities, a seaplane ride, and whale watching on this single full-day tour.

The tour takes off from Vancouver downtown to Victoria (Vancouver Seaplane Terminal). You will arrive at the Inner Harbour Airport. 

On this seaplane ride, you will have the opportunity to see the mesmerizing views of the Gulf Islands from above. From here, you head out to the seas on a marine safari adventure for 3 hours. 

The tour is led by expert guides which will give you the opportunity to learn about the area and the whales that inhabit it. You can also spot seals, birds, and the spectacular vistas of Southern Vancouver Island. 

After whale watching you will return to Vancouver from Victoria! 

🛒 Click to book a of seaplane ride whale watching Victoria from Vancouver

What to expect on a whale watching tour in Victoria BC: Our experience

When it comes to whale watching, there’s no better spot than Victoria BC. With its stunning coastline and abundant wildlife, this area is sure to provide a memorable experience for any nature lover. 

Victoria whale-watching zodiac tours

Plus, the wide array of tour operators offer plenty of options for all kinds of travelers, from novice to experienced whale watchers. So when I booked my tour, I didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely LOVED it!

I initially chose an afternoon tour in a covered boat or catamaran, but due to some cancelations, I later had to join a sunset zodiac tour! Both the whale watching tours departed from Victoria’s scenic inner harbor (downtown Victoria). 

Evening tour at the seas

Our tour was set for 3 hours, but we ended up spending 4 hours at sea sailing all the way to the San Juan Islands. Prior to the excursion, all the passengers (there were 5 of us) had to suit up (flotation suits) and were briefed on safety, and tour-related inputs were provided. 

First half hour or so, we enjoyed the sailing and it was AMAZING – the speed, the wind, and the VIEWS ~ Once the captain spotted some areas, he slowed down and we all patiently waited…. 

Victoria whale watching zodiac tour

During this time the captain also shared details about whales and other marine life….he pointed whenever whales were sighted! 

Before we left, we had a delightful show of 25 minutes where humpback whales were spouting and playing – what a beautiful sight it was! 

Victoria at night

After this, we reached the inner harbor and were amazed to see the Parliament Building all lit up in its glory ~ it was a wonderful welcome back 🙂

Read: Things to do in Victoria BC such as the Parliament Building, afternoon tea experience, and Butchart Gardens

Travel Tips for Victoria BC: FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

How to choose a whale-watching company that works for you and your schedule?

For the best and most responsible whale-watching experience in Victoria BC, you’ll want to head out on a tour with an experienced operator. All the tours listed in this guide will have a certified naturalist or marine biologist on board. 

When choosing a tour, pay attention to the vessel used – some prefer covered boats with washrooms, drink options, and big decks to admire the sea and the whales. But some prefer adventure on a cool zodiac boat with full floatation suits.

Floatation suits at the Victoria Harbour
Floatation suits at the Victoria Harbour

Although zodiacs are fun, their maximum passenger capacity is 12, and it has some limitations (mobility, people with back issues, etc.). 

Also check the time of the tour, daytime is great, but sunset is magical! 

Most tour operators also provide a whale sighting guarantee on their expeditions. 

Excursions last 3 to 4 hours, and some include marine wildlife watching tours as well.

Inner Harbour and Harbour Airport area

Tours typically depart from the Inner Harbor, Sidney, Oak Bay Marina, and Fisherman’s Wharf and take visitors into the Strait of Juan de Fuca or Haro Strait. 

Popular tour companies include Five Star Whale Watching, Prince of Wales Whale Watching, SpringTide Whale Watching & Eco Tours, and Eagle Wing Tours. Many operators offer gift certificates as well, which is a great way to support local businesses and guides. 

When is the best time for whale watching in Victoria BC?

Whale-watching season is from June through October. This is the time when chances of sighting whales are over 95% but marine wildlife can be spotted in the area year-round.

What types of whales are found in Victoria?

The most common type of whale you’ll encounter on a tour is the humpback, which can grow up to 50 feet in length and weigh over 40 tons. Other species that are frequently seen include grey whales, minke whales, and killer whales (or orcas). Both transient and resident orcas are found here. 

There’s also an abundance of other marine life to view, from harbor and elephant seals, and marine birds such as cormorants and bald eagles to seabirds and sea lions.

Safety: What to wear on a whale-watching tour

Safety should always be a top priority when whale watching in Victoria BC. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions and make sure you have enough snacks and water on board. 

If you’re traveling with children, make sure they are wearing life jackets at all times and are supervised by an adult. It’s also important to stay a safe distance away from the whales and follow any instructions given by the tour guide.

When it comes to packing for a whale-watching tour, you should always bring along a few essentials. 

  • Sunscreen is essential during the summer months, so be sure to apply plenty before you head out. 
  • You should also bring a hat, sunglasses, and a sweater in case it gets cold out on the water. 
  • Binoculars are great for spotting marine wildlife from far away, and 
  • don’t forget to pack your camera so that you can capture your experience forever.

All in all, whale watching tours in Victoria BC are an incredible way to connect with the ocean and its inhabitants. These tours give visitors a chance to observe amazing animals in their natural environment, while also providing an educational and memorable experience. 

No matter which tour you decide to take, you’re sure to have a unique and memorable experience in Victoria BC. 

From the majestic humpback whales to playful sea lions, you never know what amazing wildlife you’ll encounter on a whale-watching tour. 

So if you’re looking for an adventure that will stay with you for years to come, book your trip today and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!

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Whale Watching Victoria Tours

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