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large whale tail breaching in the salish sea between vancouver and victoria

Is Whale Watching Better in Vancouver or Victoria?

British Columbia’s biggest cities often go toe-to-toe for tourist dough – especially when we’re talking about whale tours.

They’re not cheap either, so a legit comparison between whale watching tours in Vancouver or Victoria is in order.

Let’s break down what’s involved in both – and find out if whale watching is better in Vancouver or Victoria.

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

Is Whale Watching Better in Vancouver or Victoria?

First things first: in both cases we’re talking about whales from the same Pacific waters.

Basically, Vancouver and Victoria are on opposite sides of the same sea so don’t expect Free Willy in one location and nothing in the other.

There’s so much wildlife to discover that each individual tour ends up being very different, no matter where you depart from.

That’s why my instinct for my readers is to say to book whichever tour is most convenient for you.

➡️ Tip: Make sure to book free cancellation + no money down tickets with Viator to avoid sellouts.

In other words, you literally can’t go wrong with either one unless the boat gets struck by a rogue missile – and it hasn’t happened yet!

But, if I had a gun to my head and had to choose between Vancouver or Victoria whale tours, here’s what I’d look at:

humpback breaching on a vancouver whale watching tour

1) Location: Victoria

Whale watching tours offered from Vancouver and Victoria take place in the same waters.

In fact, in some instances, they’re even offered by the same companies.

However, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is much closer to the whale-watching grounds than Vancouver.

This eliminates the need to cross the Salish Sea and lessens the chance of rough weather.

In short, Victoria is a shorter, more pleasant experience out on the water.

2) Cost: Vancouver

When comparing costs between the best Vancouver whale watching tours and the best Victoria whale watching tours we get the following:



As you can see, surprisingly, Vancouver wins out for having cheaper tours than Victoria – if only by about 8 bucks.

That said, though it didn’t make my list of top tours there is a Victoria whale tour for just $139.00 if you’re really on a tight budget.


3) Convenience: Victoria

Victoria’s tours are offered from the heart of the city’s Inner Harbour. This means the Victoria departure point is just a 5-10 minute walk from the city centre.

On the other hand, Vancouver tours are usually offered from Granville Island or Steveston Village.

Although they’re not difficult to reach, they’re not as convenient for visitors staying at downtown Vancouver hotels.

That said, Vancouver’s Killer Whale Safari does offer hotel pickup, but it’ll cost you a bit more.

zodiac whale tour stopping in front of a lighthouse near victoria canada

4) Flexibility: Victoria

April to October is considered the peak whale-watching season in the Salish Sea, regardless of your port of departure.

This is due to the migratory patterns of whales and weather changes

Simply put, crossing the Salish Sea during the winter months gets super rough. As a result, Vancouver whale-watching tours are not offered between the months of October and April.

However, Victoria’s close proximity to the whale-watching grounds negates the need to cross these sometimes treacherous seas.

Because of this, Victoria whale-watching operators are able to offer tours year-round – unlike their Vancouver-based cousins.


Still Wondering if Whale Watching is Better in Vancouver or Victoria?

Again, you see the same whales from both cities, and it’ll be a home run no matter where you go from – but if you’re visiting both cities, I’m going with Victoria.

That said, an epic killer whale splash is the same on either side – and each city has whale spotting guarantees.

If you’re still on the fence about Victoria, you can’t go wrong booking any of the following Vancouver tours:

Still not sure whether whale watching is better in Vancouver or Victoria?

Don’t be afraid to fire your questions at me in the comments below.

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