Orcas in BC

Whale Watching in Vancouver

It’s an activity that hadn’t really occurred to me – perhaps that’s part and parcel of living in a city and feeling more like a local than a tourist. But when my friend Alice came to visit Vancouver, she’d really expressed an interest in going whale watching for a day.

We booked our trip via Steveston Seabreeze Adventures and were picked up from downtown and taken to the adorable seaside town of Steveston. After grabbing lunch and coffee from a local bakery, we went to grab our boarding passes and waterproofs ready for the adventure ahead.



We started off by speeding south through the Pender Islands to meet up with a family of 9 Transient Killer Whales/Orcas, near Stuart Island in Washington State. When I say speeding, I mean speeding! I was pretty surprised by how quickly we zoomed through the water in the boat and it was super windy and kinda bumpy – all in need of catching up with the whales that had been spotted.

When we see them, our naturalist, Rhys, was pretty amazed by how social they were being including ‘tail slaps’ and ‘spyhops’ – as Transient Orcas stay quiet most of the time (for hunting), it was a pretty great show.

Sailing off Steveston, BC

Girl sailing through BC

Speaking to the captain onboard the boat

Braving the wind onboard Steveston Seabreeze Adventures

Spotting a seal on a buoy


Girl aboard the boat at Steveston Seabreeze Adventures, Vancouver


Foggy mountains and the ocean

Along the way, we saw more wildlife, and some beautiful houses. What do you think of this one?

Gorgeous house in BC


Once we’d finally chased after the orcas and successfully saw some – I stopped taking pictures. Partly to enjoy the moment, and partly because our naturalist took some that are far better than mine, so I’ve shared them below. Thanks, Rhys!

It was pretty cool to spot creatures you only really ever see on the TV.


Orcas in BC

Orcas playing with seaweed in BC

Next up – we were lucky enough to see Humpbacks too! We found two Humpback Whales just to the north, near South Pender Island. They were travelling slowly, most likely feeding as well – and we even got to see a locally famous female called ‘Big Mama’.

According to Rhys, the reason why ‘Big Mama’ is so special is that in 1997 she was the first Humpback Whale seen in these waters since the whaling industry drove the local population to extinction in 1908 – you can read more about Big Mama’s amazing story.

The fin of a Humpback Whale near Vancouver, BC

Humpback Whale near Vancouver, BC

The tail of a Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale - 'Niagara' BCY0057



Finally, as we made our way back along the Steveston rock wall, we got a long look at the colonies of Habour Seals, California Sea Lions and Steller’s Sea Lions. Who knew there were so many different species, sizes, and colours of sea lion!?


Steller's Sea Lion

White sea lion near Vancouver, BC

I loved that last one – so adorable!

We soon docked after a great day out. If you’re after a day trip with a difference – particularly for anyone new to Vancouver – it’s a great opportunity that I’d highly recommend!

Have you ever been whale watching before? Where did you do it?



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