whale watching vessels ait in front of the Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC

The Best Whale Watching Tours in Victoria BC in 2022

Taking a Victoria whale watching tour is easily one of the best ways to enjoy your stay in the Garden City.

After all, there aren’t many cities that can park you under the mist of a killer whale breath – or get you splashed by the thundering clap of a humpback whale jump – and all just minutes from your hotel room!

Of course, these are all just empty promises unless we get the best whale watching tour in Victoria on the case.

Let’s take a look at our selection.

a humback leaps out of the water near Victoria BC
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Victoria Whale Watching Tours

Victoria whale watching tours take place in the sheltered waters of the nearby Salish Sea.

While this area is renowned for its abundance of killer whales, it also contains numerous other species like humpbacks, greys, and minke whales.

You’ll also almost always see other marine mammals like sea lions, harbour seals, and bald eagles.

The great thing about whale watching tours in Victoria is that they’re offered year round – though as sunny as Victoria is, you may want to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

I’ve taken multiple tours over the years (not to mention, I’m a former commercial fisherman) and consider myself an expert on this subject – so let me show you my number one pick for the best whale watching tour in Victoria:

The Best Victoria Whale Watching Tour: Prince of Whales Victoria

In our eyes, Prince of Whales is the operator that offers the best Victoria whale watching tours, hands down.

They provide the best combination of safety, flexibility, and convenience to ensure you have the best whale watching trip possible.

By employing the use of air spotters, they offer the best chance to get up close and personal with multiple whale species.

Best of all, they offer all customers a whale-spotting guarantee. That’s right, you’re guaranteed to see a whale, or you’ll receive another tour free!

Company Reputation

Prince of Whales has been the number one whale watching tour company in British Columbia for over 25 years. In addition to operating in Victoria, the company is the number one provider of Vancouver whale watching tours

This means that the company has the top reputation in the province for safety, reliability and customer service. In fact, at our partner-site Viator they receive 5 star reviews virtually across the board – just click the link and scroll down to read them.

Here’s how they fared elsewhere on the internet:

prince of whales reviews victoria whale watching

Flexibility

Having operations throughout the province also means that Prince of Whales has the largest fleet on the West coast.

Whether you’re looking for a heart-pounding outdoor adventure aboard a zodiac or a relaxing luxury cruise away from the elements on a custom-built catamaran – they’ve got it.

You’ll have more options with them than with other providers:

This makes them the perfect choice for all travellers regardless of age, fitness, or budget.

Easy to Reach Location

Their central Wharf Street location is easily the most convenient of any provider.

Just follow the city’s heartbeat right to the Inner Harbour; only steps away from Victoria’s best hotels, fabulous restaurants, and the city’s top attractions.

This makes them perfect for day trippers, cruise passengers or any time-efficient travellers.

An orca surface in front of a whale watching vessel, Victoria BC
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Victoria Half-Day Whale Watching Tours

Vessel: Partially-enclosed Catamaran | Dates: April 15 – Nov 6 | From: $152.00 CAD

Prince of Whales’ most popular Victoria whale watching tour is a 3+ hour fully-guided adventure aboard the Salish Sea Eclipse.

This purpose-built high-speed, luxury, custom-built catamaran carries up to 95 passengers in its warm and dry cabin. This makes it the preferred option for families, seniors, and – well nearly everyone if it’s cold and/or raining!

You’ll depart from the scenic Inner Harbour with only one task at hand. Cruising the Strait of Juan de Fuca in search of stunning orcas and humpback whales – and don’t forget about that guarantee!

The knowledgeable Prince of Whales crew also ensures you’ll be aboard a floating classroom. These marine mammal experts will share their knowledge and wisdom on the animals and the eco-system they call home.

Each Half Day Victoria Whale Watching Tour Includes:

  • Full guided tour aboard purpose-built catamaran
  • Heated enclosed cabin with floor-ceiling windows
  • 22ft outdoor 360-degree viewing platform
  • 2 washrooms
  • Year-round whale sighting guarantee
  • Crew of 3-4 certified naturalists
  • Complimentary coffee, tea, and hot cocoa
  • Free photo package

Book Your 1/2 Day Whale Watching Tour Now

A Victoria whale watching tour at sunset
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Victoria Sunset Whale Watching Tours

Vessel: Partially-enclosed Catamaran | Dates: May-Oct | From: $165.99 CAD

This exciting Victoria whale-watching tour offers the same great experience as Prince of Whales’ half-day tour. Only it comes with a scenic golden-hour twist!

You’ll gain an entirely different perspective on BC’s stunning coastal landscape as you depart Victoria’s Inner Harbour. On your 4-hour tour aboard the Salish Sea Eclipse, you’ll encounter the same fantastic marine mammals-orcas, humpbacks, greys and much more.

Only you’ll do so with a beautiful red-skied backdrop. A favourite with photographers, this relaxing Victoria whale watching tour is the perfect way to end your evening.

Each Sunset Victoria Whale Watching Tour Includes:

  • Full guided tour aboard purpose-built catamaran
  • Heated enclosed cabin with floor-ceiling windows
  • 22ft outdoor 360-degree viewing platform
  • 2 washrooms
  • Year-round whale sighting guarantee
  • Crew of 3-4 certified naturalists
  • Complimentary coffee, tea, and hot cocoa
  • Free photo package

Book Your Sunset Whale Watching Tour Now

A Victoria whale watching tour returns to port
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Victoria Zodiac Whale Watching Tours

Vessel: Open-air Zodiac | Dates: Year Round | From: $147.00 CAD

On the lookout for a little more of a thrill? Prince of Whales’ most heart-pounding whale adventure is a bit of a hat-holder, and I’m telling you from experience.

First, you’ll zip up your Mustang suit and jump aboard a purpose-built zodiac. You’ll then idle slowly through the Inner Harbour past Victoria’s famous harbour planes and pickle boats – a decent sight in itself.

Then we get the party started.  The captain opens up the zodiac’s twin 300hp Mercury outboards and lets her rip!

Now you’re on the hunt for orcas and humpbacks and other once-in-a-lifetime wildlife – as feel the refreshing sea spray cools your face – at speeds of up to 55 km/h! 

Zodiac tours are the only Victoria whale watching option available year-round. However, you’d be wise to keep your eyes on the weather forecast – as it can be a bumpy ride.

*Not recommended for children under 4ft tall, pregnant women, seniors, those with limited mobility, people who have recently undergone surgery, or those with neck/back injuries.

This Zodiac whale watching tour includes:

  • Fully guided tour aboard a 12-person open-air Zodiac
  • Ride up to 55 km/h through the Salish Sea
  • Accompanied by 1 certified captain/naturalist
  • Year-round whale sighting guarantee
  • Mustang suits, gloves, hats, and goggles provided

Book Your Zodiac Tour Now

a Victoria whale watching tour prepares to depart the Inner Harbour
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Tips for the Best Whale Watching in Victoria 

Monitor Weather Conditions

The majority of your tour will be spent amongst the sheltered waters of the Gulf and the San Juan Islands.

Nevertheless, if you’re particularly prone to sea sickness to may want to keep an eye on the weather.

While operators are careful not to operate during windy conditions, choppy seas can appear – even during sunny weather. Check with your tour operator to ensure that weather conditions are to your satisfaction.

It goes without saying that warm, calm and clear days are ideal for both comfort and whale visibility. Try your best to book your tour during these conditions if possible.

If your trip is cancelled due to weather you will be refunded or compensated with tickets aboard a future journey.

 

Take a Motion Sickness Tablet

While providers are careful to avoid operating in inclement weather - and the tours occur in sheltered waters. Some passengers can still experience motion sickness. If you’re prone to this condition we recommend taking a Gravol or generic motion sickness tablet one hour prior to departure.

Travellers concerned about motion sickness will likely find a tour trip aboard a larger semi-enclosed vessel more to their satisfaction. So if this sounds like you, we'd recommend avoiding the Zodiac tours.

Dress For the Occasion

For starters, you should always dress for the season. But keep in mind that it's almost always cooler and breezier out on the water. 

The following wardrobe tips should help you dress accordingly:

  • Dress in layers, with a thin layer covering your skin, an intermediate layer and a light jacket
  • Long pants will be preferable to skirts or shorts unless at the peak of Summer
  • Beanies/toques and gloves are recommended for early and late season departures
  • Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must in the Summertime

*Check with your company to see what items are included on your tour. Prince of Whales' Zodiac tours provide guests with hats, gloves and floater jackets, so you should be good.

Go Early in Your Trip

As stated earlier, most providers guarantee that if you don’t see any whales, you’ll receive a free trip aboard a future journey.

While such occurrences are rare, we recommend placing a whale watching tour near the beginning of your Victoria travel itinerary to take advantage of this guarantee.

Bring a Camera

While smartphone cameras have improved significantly in recent years, whale watching trips are one instance that serves to highlight their shortcomings.

Vessels are required to remain 100 meters away from whales by the Pacific Whale Watching Association (PWWA). Unfortunately, this is just enough to render your smartphone's zoom function largely useless.

As a result, a camera with a zoom lens is highly recommended to document your experience.

Purchase Your Tickets Online in Advance

In order to secure your lowest price guarantee, we recommended you purchase your whale watching tickets online via our partners at Viator.

This will allow you to compare rates from the various providers, as well as give you an idea of the various packages on offer.

A pod of orcas swims in front of a whale watching boat, Victoria BC
Instagram: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching

Whale Watching Tours in Victoria BC FAQ

When is Victoria whale watching season?

The peak season for whale watching in Victoria is typically between April and October. While whales can be found in local waters year round, weather concerns serve to reduce demand.

Nevertheless, some providers do offer Zodiac Tours year-round, including Prince of Whales.

Where do whale watching trips depart from in Victoria?

There are Victoria whale watching tours that leave from Fisherman's Wharf and various other spots around the Inner Harbour. However, we feel that our recommended provider Prince of Whales' Wharf Street location offers the most convenient meeting and departure points for most travellers.

What kind of whales will you see when whale watching in Victoria?

While whale watching in the waters around Victoria you can expect to encounter Southern resident and transient killer whales, humpback whales, grey whales and minke whales.

What other kind of marine wildlife will I see on my tour?

You can expect to see Pacific white-sided dolphins, stellar sea lions, California sea lions, elephant seals, river otters, bald eagles, and other marine mammals and birds.

What's the best whale watching tour for families in Victoria?

The Prince of Whales half-day tour aboard the Salish Sea Eclipse is the best option for families. It is the largest and most comfortable boat in the industry. Making it perfect for visitors who may not have sea legs or be physically capable of withstanding the chop on a smaller boats.

Furthermore, they also provide educational materials, more naturists aboard than other companies, and the biggest pricing discount for children. 

How to Book Your Victoria Whale Watching Tour

While we had the choice of steering you to several online booking platforms, in this article we opted to partner with Viator.

Not only do they provide a selection of several different Victoria whale watching tours. But most importantly, they offer you a low price guarantee.

On whale-watching tours, they also grant you the option of reserving your spot and paying at a later date - up to two days prior to departure. This makes date changes and cancellation a breeze, while providing you with the maximum in flexibility.

  1. Click on the orange buttons in the article above or follow our Viator whale watching link
  2. Select your date of departure and # of passengers in the box on the right. Then click "check availability" 
  3. Select your desired time of departure and choose "reserve now and pay later" or "book now"
  4. Fill out your personal information and choose your method of payment
  5. You're good to go!
  6. If you find the tour cheaper they'll refund you the difference!

*Full disclosure, we receive compensation for our partnership with Viator. We put thousands of hours into this website, so if you could do us a solid and book via our links we'll be one step closer to our goal of making this our full-time job.

Thank you so much 🙏

Still Looking for the Top Whale Watching Tours in Victoria?

I hope I’ve done everything I can to find you the best whale watching tour in Victoria. But if I've missed anything, don’t be afraid to hit me up on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

As always, I’ll do my best to address them as soon as possible.

Julian

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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