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When is the Best Time to Go Whale Watching in Vancouver?

So, when is the best time to go whale watching in Vancouver?

With such spectacular wildlife, I could give you a snarky answer and say whenever you feel like it – but that’s no help is it?

Let’s break down whale season in Vancouver and find the right time for you.

  1. Best time for whale watching
  2. Best time for killer whales
  3. Best time for humpback whales
a killer whale jumping out of the water along the vancouver bc coast

When is the Best Time to Visit Vancouver for Whale Watching?

Carving out the best time to whale watch in Vancouver BC depends on two crucial factors:

The Real 3 W’s: Whale Watching Weather

First off, there’s no better way to spend summer in Vancouver than out on the water.

Vancouver whale watching tours are no exception, and the warm and dry Vancouver weather between May and September is the perfect time to get out there.

You’re much more likely to encounter the city’s famed cold, wet and breezy weather between October and April.

Warning: Whale season in Vancouver (April-October 2024) is in full swing. With limited seats, tours usually sell out in advance – so you’ll need to book your tickets online in advance. Using the following links, you can get free cancellation tickets with no money down: Vancouver Whale Watch (Steveston: cheapest whale tour) Prince of Whales (Granville Island: close to downtown + luxury catamaran)

Whale Migratory Patterns

Secondly, climate naturally has a dramatic effect on the migratory patterns of local whales.

Luckily, the whales happen to be most present while the weather is at its best.

The area’s famed killer whales are most visible between May and October. You can also expect to see the most humpback whales between April to November.

The slightly less common gray whales hang around from April to July, while when the elusive minke whale also shows up at the same time – staying until November.

Related: Is Whale Watching Better in Vancouver or Victoria?

info graphic on the best time to see whales in vancouver by month

So When is the Best Time to Visit Vancouver for Whale Watching?

OK, so based on my little weather-migration formula + the infographic above, I’m gonna say the best time to see whales in Vancouver is between late May and early September.

Don’t let anything above fool you though: Vancouver whale-watching tours have a 95% success rate – and the tours offer whale guarantees.

Here’s a list of the best ones:

No whales? You’ll be provided with a free ticket to come back the next day!

All the links above also offer buy now, pay later tickets.

Is high season not the best time of year to see whales for you?

For November-March you’ll need to go on a Victoria whale-watching tour or go whale watching in Nanaimo on nearby Vancouver Island, which takes advantage of more open waters.


Best Time to See Killer Whales in Vancouver

Killer whales are closely intertwined in the fabric of the city of Vancouver.

They feature prominently in the mythology of local indigenous cultures, and an orca named Fin even serves as the mascot for our Vancouver Canucks!

So it comes as no surprise then that the best whale watching tours in Vancouver rank highly on our list of best things to do in Vancouver – but you’ve gotta know when to see them.

But when can you see orcas in Vancouver? Let’s break it down further.

Vancouver Orca Watching Season

These beautiful apex predators can be spotted year-round in the waters surrounding Vancouver.

That said, the best time to see orcas in Vancouver is between late spring and early fall.

During this time, the whales migrate to the nutrient-rich waters of the Salish Sea. Here they pursue salmon and other sea mammals that also prey on this keystone species.

The period between May and October is considered to be the best time to see killer whales, and it’s the best time to go whale watching in Vancouver overall.

Related: What to Wear Whale Watching Vancouver

humpback breaching on a vancouver whale watching tour

Best Time to See Humpback Whales in Vancouver

The best time to see humpback whales in Vancouver depends on the time of year and the whales’ migration patterns.

Technically, humpback whales can be seen in the waters around Vancouver throughout the year – but they are most commonly sighted from April to October.

During this time, the whales migrate from their wintering grounds in Mexico and California to their summer feeding grounds in British Columbia and Alaska.

May to September is peak whale season in Vancouver for humpback whales.

Not only are your chances of seeing a humpback whale in Vancouver higher, but you’ve also thankfully got great Vancouver summer weather on your side.

Vancouver Whale Season FAQ

What is the best month to see whales in Vancouver?

The best month to see whales in Vancouver is in August. Not only are there plenty of orcas and humpbacks around, but it’s also the hottest/driest weather.

Is it better to see whales in the morning or afternoon?

It is better to see whales in the afternoon in Vancouver – sunset tours are scheduled to coincide with golden hour light, making the view better.

What’s the best time of day to see whales in Vancouver?

The best time of day to see whales in Vancouver is during golden hour, which is seasonally dependent but generally between 4 pm and 7 pm.

What is the best month to see whales in Vancouver?

The best months to see whales in Vancouver is in July and August.

Still Wondering When Whale Watching Season is in Vancouver?

Again, the best time of year for whale watching in Vancouver really depends on you and your needs.

That said, if you’re in town at any point during whale season in Vancouver you can’t go wrong with a trip.

Got any more questions? Just ask me in the comments below! 🙂

Related: Is Whale Watching in Vancouver Worth It?

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