Whale Watching in Vancouver

Whale Watching in Vancouver

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

Boarding the boat

We booked our trip via Steveston Seabreeze Adventures. We 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 fetch our whale watching boarding passes. We also needed waterproofs ready for the adventure ahead.

Ready to go whale watching at Steveston
Boarding pass for Steveston Seabreeze Adventures

We started off our whale watching adventure by speeding south through the Pender Islands. This was 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. It was super windy and kinda bumpy – all in need of catching up with the whales that had been spotted.

When we saw them, our naturalist, Rhys, was pretty amazed by how social the whales were being including ‘tail slaps’ and ‘spyhops’. Transient Orcas usually stay quiet most of the time (for hunting), so 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
On a boat off Vancouver
Girl aboard the boat at Steveston Seabreeze Adventures, Vancouver
Girls whale watching in Vancouver
Foggy mountains and the ocean in Vancouver

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

Gorgeous house in BC
Sailing off Vancouver in search of whales

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 far better than mine, so I’ve shared them below. Thanks, Rhys!

Whale watching in Vancouver

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

Whales in Vancouver
Orcas in BC
Orcas playing with seaweed in BC

Next up – we were lucky enough to see Humpbacks on our whale watching trip too! We found two Humpback Whales just to the north, near South Pender Island. They were travelling slowly, most likely feeding as well. 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 1908. This was when the whaling industry drove the local population to extinction. 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 near Vancouver
The sea and sky off Vancouver
Girls going whale watching

Spotting sea lions

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!?

Sea lions in Vancouver
Steller's Sea Lion near Vancouver
White sea lion near Vancouver, BC

I loved that last one – so adorable!

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

Have you ever been whale watching in Vancouver before? Or anywhere else in the world? What did you see?


I’m Laura, a roaming blonde who recently made the leap from my home in the Cotswolds, UK to be based across the pond in Vancouver, BC for a brand new job and plenty of adventures.

Find me on: Web


  1. December 28, 2018 / 3:20 am

    I have been whale watching twice in Vancouver. We received free return tickets as we didn’t see any whales. We live in the UK. But will be coming again as we love Vancouver.

    • Laura
      December 28, 2018 / 7:20 am

      Oh no, that’s such a shame you didn’t get to see any! Definitely come back and hopefully you will next time! 🙂

  2. January 2, 2019 / 8:35 am

    Oh wow, what an amazing experience! Whale watching has been on my bucket list for so long… We had hoped we would get the chance to do it in Puerto Lopez Ecuador but sadly we were out of season. Just need to pencil in the next trip now!

    • Laura
      January 2, 2019 / 10:36 pm

      Whale watching in Ecuador sounds incredible, I’d love to give it a go in another place. Definitely come to BC one day and see it here – nothing quite like the mountain-ocean backdrop 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.