Things to do in
Vancouver Island

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Our most recommended things to do in Vancouver Island

Victoria: 3-Hour Zodiac Whale-Watching Tour

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

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 more 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.

Victoria: The Butchart Gardens Tour

2. Victoria: The Butchart Gardens Tour

The famous Butchart Gardens exist on the site of an exhausted limestone quarry. The first garden, the Sunken Garden, was built when the Butcharts hired a Japanese landscape architect to transform the quarry space into something beautiful. On the 35-minute bus ride from Victoria, your experienced driver will provide an overview of Victoria’s history past, present & future. Once the bus gets you to Butchart Gardens, you will have the opportunity to explore the enchanting grounds for yourself. The gardens span 55 acres and provide a total sensory experience. The flowers and scents transform with the seasons, and you will have a spectacular experience no matter what time of year! As you wander the gardens, we encourage you to enjoy the view while sipping from a cup of coffee at one of the restaurants or seasonal cafés scattered across the grounds. The gardens have become a major attraction on Vancouver Island, and have been honored as a National Historic Site of Canada because of their international popularity.

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

3. 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. 

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

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

After meeting at the pier or being collected from your Victoria hotel or accommodation, you will begin your carbon-neutral tour led by certified marine naturalists whose knowledge and passion for Vancouver Island’s marine wildlife is unequaled in the industry. Come aboard to experience the wild! All tours are three hours in length and peak whale watching season is April through October. In this peak season, there is a greater than 95% success rate of spotting whales, including both transient and resident orcas, humpbacks, minke, and gray whales. Other wildlife you may encounter include Dall’s and harbor porpoises, harbor and elephant seals, otters and marine birds such as cormorants and bald eagles. Whilst onboard the boat you will also be offered complimentary coffee and tea, onboard bathrooms, certified marine naturalists, and indoor and outdoor viewing areas. 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.

Victoria Panoramic Seaplane Tour

5. 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.

Victoria Day Trip by Seaplane from Vancouver

6. Victoria Day Trip by Seaplane from Vancouver

On this full-day excursion you’ll depart Vancouver Harbor by seaplane for an exciting flight over the Gulf Islands to beautiful Victoria. After you arrive in Victoria you’ll enjoy a coach tour that take you to the famous Butchart Gardens. In Victoria the shops, a museum, and several other attractions are just steps away. You’ll return to Vancouver by seaplane on a scheduled afternoon flight of your choice. With more than 50 aircraft, Harbour Air and Westcoast Air operate the largest all-seaplane fleet in the world. DeHavilland DHC-3 Turbine Single Otters and Twin Otters service regularly scheduled flights between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. DHC-2 Beavers service the Gulf Islands. Cessna 185 aircraft are available for charter.

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

7. 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.

Nanaimo: Panoramic Seaplane Tour

8. Nanaimo: Panoramic Seaplane Tour

Experience the excitement of seaplane flying with this 20-minute flight. Depart from Nanaimo’s historic waterfront on this ideal introduction to seaplane aviation. Explore your surroundings from a new perspective and take in panoramic views of Harbour City with Mount Benson as its backdrop. Enjoy aerial vistas of some of the southern Gulf Islands including Newcastle Island Provincial Park located right offshore. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for wildlife such as seals and sea lions on the rocky coastlines along the Strait of Georgia.

Vancouver: Victoria, Gulf Islands Cruise, & Butchart Gardens

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

View the spectacular British Columbia coastline by land and ship, 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. Marine wildlife sightings from the outdoor ship decks are common, 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 dancing fountain. The city of Victoria boasts many impressive architectural wonders, including the iconic Parliament Buildings and the waterfront Fairmont Empress Hotel. Visit the unique 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. Packed with ever-changing experiences of the Pacific Coast and Vancouver Island, this tour is a must-do for those who have not yet visited Victoria.

Campbell River: Whales, Wildlife & Culture Tour

10. 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.

Other Sightseeing Options in Vancouver Island

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What people are saying about Vancouver Island

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 910 reviews

We traveled comfortably by bus and water transport for the bus. Our bus driver was very informative about what we would see and do. We enjoyed a lovely walk through the Butchart gardens, then time in Victoria to explore.

Captain Jordon was awesome- saw a lotwhales; super knowledgeable but not overwhelming with chatter- appreciated

Evan was a great skipper - fun ride, very knowledgeable about the area, the whales and other local wildlife.

Highly recommend! Delicious vegetarian options and Andy was an entertaining and knowledgeable guide.

Tim our tour guide was entertaining and very knowledgeable.