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Things to do in Vancouver Island

Our most recommended things to do in Vancouver Island

Victoria: 3-Hour Zodiac Whale-Watching Tour

1. Victoria: 3-Hour Zodiac Whale-Watching Tour

Experience the awe and inspiration of seeing whales in their natural environment on this unique whale-watching excursion from Victoria. Cruise along in an open zodiac boat on the Salish Sea, and get the chance to spot orcas, humpback, minke, and gray whales, as well as porpoises and seals. After being collected from your downtown accommodation in a comfortable shuttle bus, you will venture down to the harbor where you will meet with your boat. After meeting your guides for the day, you will then depart from Victoria, setting off on your 3-hour whale-watching tour. Between April and October, you will have a greater than 95% success rate of spotting whales, including both transient and resident orcas, humpback, minke, and gray whales. Other wildlife you may encounter include Dall’s and harbor porpoises, harbor and elephant seals, and otters and marine birds such as cormorants and bald eagles. The zodiac vessels used on your tour are definitely recommended for the wild-at-heart. You can let the wind blow in your hair and be exposed to the true west-coast elements in an open-style, 12-passenger vessel. At the conclusion of your exhilarating tour, you will be returned back to the harbor, at which point you will be driven back to your accommodation in downtown Victoria.

Telegraph Cove: 3-Hour Whale Watching Tour in a Zodiac Boat

2. Telegraph Cove: 3-Hour Whale Watching Tour in a Zodiac Boat

After meeting your skipper at the dock, get suited up in a cozy cruiser suit, ensuring your comfort and safety for the duration of the trip. This 3-hour whale-watching tour boasts sightings of just about everything there is to see, from wolves roaming nearby islands to groups of predatory transient orcas and breaching humpback calves. Your ride on one of the zipping Zodiac-style boats will be nearly as exciting as seeing the whales.  Each of the boats seats 12, and there are great views from every seat. Once out of the former fishing village of Telegraph Cove, you’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of species of sea life, including orcas, humpback whales, grey whales, minke whales, porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, elephant seals, otters, and bald eagles. Every tour is guided by a Transport Canada-approved skipper, who will provide information and commentary on all of the wildlife you see. If you don’t see a whale on your trip, you’ll be entitled to a free tour until you have a successful sighting.

Campbell River: Whales, Wildlife & Culture Tour

3. Campbell River: Whales, Wildlife & Culture Tour

Go in search of a variety of fascinating wildlife species which can be found off the coast of Vancouver Island, including humpback whales, orcas (killer whales), porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, and a variety of marine birds. The tour vessel includes both indoor and outdoor seating options. Take the outdoor adventure seats that allow for wind-in-your-face exploring and wildlife watching. Inside the warm and protected cabin, find comfortable seats with large windows and a bathroom. As you explore the area, learn more about the rich history of the First Nations of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands. Learn about the tribes who have resided in the region for centuries including the Homalco, Klahoose, Tla’amin, K’ómoks, Wei Wai Kum, We Wai Kai, and more. The guides and skippers will share their expert knowledge of history, legends, stories, and culturally significant sites throughout the excursion.

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

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

Join certified marine naturalists on a cruise from Victoria to spot whales, including both transient and resident orcas, humpbacks, minke, and gray whales. Benefit from hotel pickup and drop-off and relax with guaranteed whale sightings and a conservation fee included in the tour price. After meeting at the pier, begin your carbon-neutral tour led by certified marine naturalists who will share their knowledge and passion for Vancouver Island’s marine wildlife with you. Whilst on the boat, enjoy complimentary coffee and tea, onboard bathrooms, and indoor and outdoor viewing areas.  You may also encounter Dall’s and harbor porpoises, harbor and elephant seals, otters, and marine birds such as cormorants and bald eagles.  Make the best of peak whale watching season in Victoria which runs from April through October. In the event of an unlucky tour, you will be invited to join again for a complimentary second whale-watching tour to bring your dreams of seeing these magnificent animals to life.

Vancouver: Victoria, Gulf Islands Cruise, & Butchart Gardens

5. Vancouver: Victoria, Gulf Islands Cruise, & Butchart Gardens

Experience the Pacific Coast and Vancouver Island by land and ship on a guided day trip from Vancouver with hotel transfers included. View the British Columbia coastline from a sightseeing cruise, followed by a stop at Butchart Gardens en route to the British-inspired city of Victoria. Board a BC Ferries vessel at Tsawwassen terminal for a 90-minute sail through the serene beauty of the Gulf Islands. On the way, look out for marine wildlife from the outdoor ship decks, especially eagles, sea lions, and whales. Arrive at Swartz Bay terminal on Vancouver Island and continue to the enchanting botanical paradise of Butchart Gardens. Wander through a series of themed gardens, highlighted by the massive Sunken Garden complete with a dancing fountain. Marvel at the architectural wonders of the city of Victoria boasts, including the iconic Parliament Buildings and the waterfront Fairmont Empress Hotel. Visit the shops and cafes of Government Street and Chinatown. Stroll along the Inner Harbour for prime ocean views, and enjoy some free time to take in this culturally significant city. Return on the bus to Vancouver by ferry to conclude this diverse tour.

Campbell River: Whale & Wildlife Discovery Cruise

6. Campbell River: Whale & Wildlife Discovery Cruise

Spend a day on the water and discover local wildlife on this Campbell River cruise. Visit the Salish Sea, Discovery Passage, and Johnstone Strait. With an abundance of wildlife in the area, you are likely to encounter many animals both on land and at sea. Choose from two vessel options for your cruise. A covered vessel with indoor seating offers a good option for families. Alternatively, a zodiac-style vessel offers a good option for those who like being outdoors and want to feel the wind through their hair. Hop aboard your chosen vessel, then sit back and relax. Keep an eye out for humpback whales, killer whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, bears, Steller sea lions, and more. Learn from an on-board naturalist and listen to the sounds of whales through hydrophones. While it might not be possible to guarantee you’ll see all of these animals on your tour, this tour offers a great opportunity to see everything that is possible.

Victoria Panoramic Seaplane Tour

7. Victoria Panoramic Seaplane Tour

Fly high above scenic Victoria BC and explore its beautiful scenery by seaplane. This thrill-a-minute tour will reveal a spectacular landscape and unforgettable aerial views. The Panoramic Seaplane Tour of Victoria will glide over the Olympic Mountains and along the Victoria waterfront to the white sand beaches of James and Sydney Islands. From here the tour heads north to the Saanich Peninsular and over the famous Butchart Gardens before returning back to Victoria Harbor. It is an experience not to be missed, especially if time is limited in Victoria and the photo opportunities just cannot be bettered. A fantastic day out for aviation lovers.

Whale Watching Tour in Victoria, BC

8. Whale Watching Tour in Victoria, BC

Have the chance to witness the area's diversity of whale species including humpback whales, Bigg's orcas, minke whales, and gray whales. The spotting network and years of experience in locating the whales ensure a high success rate for tours. The area of operations in the water surrounding Southern Vancouver Island, Victoria, the Gulf Islands, and Juan de Fuca Strait is a critical area for multiple species of whales, including other marine animals like seals, sea lions, sea otters, and marine birds. You may even spot more rare species such as elephant seals and dolphins. Listen as your crew introduces you to these magnificent animals and share with you the myriad of other natural wonders abundant in this pristine marine environment. The Salish Sea, the water off Victoria, is home to an abundance of marine wildlife. During the tour, explore various feeding areas that attract whales to local waters. Have the opportunity to see orcas and humpback whales in their natural habitat.  Other possible encounters include minke and gray whales. The Salish Sea is also home to seals, sea lions, porpoises, otters, and many more sea animals. Let five-star whale watching introduce you to the wonders of the Salish Sea.

Victoria, BC: 3-Hour Ultimate Whale & Marine Wildlife Tour

9. Victoria, BC: 3-Hour Ultimate Whale & Marine Wildlife Tour

The waters off Victoria, British Columbia are known as the Salish Sea. Discover its wonders and rich marine environment with this ultimate whale and marine wildlife tour. Board a brand new high-speed coastal explorer boat and set sail to look for orcas (also known as killer whales), humpbacks, harbor seals, California sea lions, and over 127 species of marine birds!  Take a tour of the west coast aboard a luxurious coastal explorer, with two outside viewing areas and a fully heated cabin. Enjoy complimentary coffee and hot chocolate as you set off on an adventure to learn all about the local marine wildlife and important landmarks. From playful orcas to giant humpbacks, your experience is sure to be memorable. Discover the marine wildlife in the waters off Victoria with the help of marine biologists and learn about efforts to establish Victoria as a world-renowned whale watching destination. 

Victoria: Whale Watching Cruise by Covered Boat

10. Victoria: Whale Watching Cruise by Covered Boat

Experience the majesty of the Salish Sea and its wildlife, from whales surfacing in unison to bald eagles soaring overhead. Cut through the Strait of Juan de Fuca’s currents in search of orcas and humpback whales, and listen to our marine mammal experts bring the animals’ stories to life. Climb aboard the new Salish Sea catamaran-style boat, custom-designed for whale watching. Push through the waves with ease as you search for whales and other marine species. Stop at different 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. Learn more about the wildlife from up to 3 top marine naturalists. Enjoy the heated indoor cabin and 2 open air sundecks that are ideal for photography, or immerse yourself in this experience while we take free high-resolution photos of the wildlife, the landscape. and your loved ones.

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What people are saying about Vancouver Island

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,840 reviews

The tour was so interesting and informative. It was a really great way to experience many different types of food while seeing so many hidden gems in Victoria. I was traveling alone and this was a great way to see some sites, eat some amazing local food (which I went back to later!) and meet really cool travellers at the same time!

Our guide was really friendly and attentive, and we saw four pods of whales! Which is apparently very rare. An amazing day.

We had an amazing time on whale watching tour, seen many hump backs, a pod of orcas and a ton of sea lions. A great time!

We have a great drive with this app and the quiz was alot of fun.

Great experience! Knowledgeable staff. Very enjoyable.