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steveston whale watching tour boat approaching a pod of orcas

Best Steveston Whale Watching Tours in 2023

One of the most spectacular things to do in the Lower Mainland is go on a Steveston whale watching tour.

The breathtaking scenery, the wind in your hair, the crazy creatures you’ve only seen on TV – it’s all there.

Let’s take a look at how to see orcas, humpback whales, and other amazing animals in their natural habitat.

Here’s how to go whale watching in Steveston.

Whale Watching in Richmond (Steveston)

First things first.

If you’re looking for Richmond whale watching tours you won’t find them in Richmond proper.

They all depart from Steveston Village, which is to the south on the same island as Richmond.

This historic fishing village offers the perfect starting point for your tour and is packed with seaside activities and delicious seafood.

Not sure how to get there? There’s also hotel pickup/drop off from your downtown Vancouver hotel, so it’s actually quite simple to do.

Fishing boats sit in the harbour at dusk, Steveston BC

Why Steveston Village is Perfect for Whale Watching

  • Ideal Location: Steveston Village is conveniently located just 30 minutes south of downtown Vancouver, making it an easy and accessible starting point for your whale-watching adventure. You can pair your tour with a day spent exploring the area’s sites, attractions and museums.
  • The Abundance of Wildlife: Steveston is located at the mouth of the Fraser River, which is known for its abundance of wildlife – more rural than Vancouver harbour. This makes it easier to spot seals, sea lions, and bald eagles.
  • Accessibility to the Grounds: Steveston is an hour closer to the area’s most bountiful whale-watching grounds (as opposed to top Vancouver whale watching tours from Granville Island). This means more time spent at sea looking for whales than commuting.
  • Experienced Guides: Steveston is home to Vancouver Whale Watch, an experienced tour operator that knows the area and the wildlife like the back of their hand. They will provide you with all the information you need to fully appreciate the whales and the other wildlife you encounter on your tour.

What You’ll See on Steveston Whale Watching Tours

Let’s get to the fun part: what you can expect to see while whale watching in Richmond/Steveston.

With this Steveston whale watching tour you’ll board a semi-enclosed boat called the Explorathor II, a massive zodiac that’s built for speed and comfort.

Here, you’ll have the chance to see the whales from the upper observation deck or stay low with their floor-to-ceiling windows.

This 3 to 5 hour tour sets out with the goal to see orcas and humpbacks in the wild. Along the way you’ll also see dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and more.

You’re also riding with tour guides and naturists who will answer any questions you have.

All of the boats are certified by Transport Canada and are regulated to be safe for the environment, animals included.

They also give you a 100% whale sighting guarantee. Don’t see one? You get free tickets to come back another day.

Whale Watching Ticket Prices

  • Adults: $177.75
  • Seniors: $156.25
  • Student: $156.25
  • Child: $114.25
  • Infant: $4.00

Hotel drop-off and pick up can be added for an additional $21.00 per person.

Related: Is Whale Watching Worth It?

Tour Departure Times

Tours run once a day in low season (March-May) at noon, and twice a day during high season (June-October) at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm.

With only about 30 people per tour, these whale watching tours in Steveston sell out very quickly.

Especially if you’re visiting in summer it’s recommended to book as far in advance as possible to not be left at the dock.

You can book Steveston whale watching tickets with the button below:

How to Book your Steveston Whale Watching Tour

Our recommended method of booking your exciting Richmond whale-watching excursion is through our partners at Viator.

In creating this Vancouver travel resource, we’ve had the option to work with a variety of different providers. In this instance, we opted to partner with Viator for the following reasons:

  • Choice: They offer the widest breadth of whale watching tours from Steveston, including the less commonly encountered options offered from Steveston Village.
  • Trust: As part of the Trip Advisor family, Viator offers over 300,000 travel experiences across the globe. Add in millions of reviews, and you can be assured of the highest level of quality and security.
  • Support: New price? New plan? No problem. Viator is there with 24/7 support.
  • Flexibility: They offer free cancellation and reserve now, pay later options to ease your concerns if plans change.
  • Lowest Price Guarantee: They guarantee the lowest price on all the experiences they sell. If you find the same product cheaper within three days of booking, you’ll be refunded the difference.

Related: When is the Best time for Whale Watching?

Richmond Whale Watching Tour FAQ

What is the best time of year to go whale watching in Richmond?

Whale-watching tours are typically offered from April to October, with the best chances of spotting whales during peak season in June and July. However, the Salish Sea is home to numerous species of whales throughout the year, so the sightings guarantee remains in force all season long.

Related: Best Time to See Killer Whales

Related: Best Time to See Humpback Whales

What should I bring with me on my Richmond whale watching tour?

It’s recommended to dress in layers and bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the experience. Keep in mind that it is always cooler and breezier out on the water, so dress accordingly. If you’re taking a zodiac tour, a floater jacket and gloves, and a toque will be provided.

Related: What to Wear While Whale Watching

Is whale watching in Steveston safe?

Yes, whale-watching tours are safe when conducted by experienced professionals who follow safety guidelines and regulations. Vancouver Whale Watch has over two decades of experience and ensures that all guides have completed courses in Marine Emergency Training and First Aid.

How do you get to Steveston Village to go whale watching?

First off, most Steveston whale-watching tours offer convenient pickup from select Richmond and downtown Vancouver hotels. Alternatively, you can rent a car or take public transportation, with the Skytrain’s Canada Line providing service to Richmond.

However, keep in mind you’ll have to jump on the #406 Steveston bus outside Richmond-Brighouse Station to reach your destination.

Related: How Much is Whale Watching in Steveston?

A Vancouver Whale Watch boat passes in front of Mt. Baker

Ready to Go Whale Watching in Richmond?

Going on a Richmond whale watching tour from Steveston Village is an unforgettable experience.

That said, maybe I’ve missed something here. If you’ve got any questions about Richmond whale watching tours (well, Steveston, technically) then get at me in the comments!

Enjoy your whale watching tour 🐳


I've used online guides on five continents to find the world's greatest travel spots and this is my chance to give back - with insider info on my home, the mighty Vancouver BC!

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