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a vancouver boat tour boat underway outside of stanley park

Best Vancouver Boat Tours: Sightseeing Boat Cruises in Vancouver

Taking Vancouver boat tours is a special and fun way to enjoy the beautiful views that make the city one of the prettiest in the world.

If you’re a visitor or a resident seeking fresh ways to explore the city, giving serious thought to boat tours is a great idea.

However, what’s available, and is it worthwhile? I’ll streamline the Vancouver boat tour options to bring you up to date.

Best Boat Tours in Vancouver (2024)

If you’re reading this it’s clear you’re looking for some unique ways to discover the city – so we’re off to a good start.

And excuse me for being presumptuous, but based on my own preferences you’re probably also looking for:

  • A great price-quality ratio to keep things cheerful
  • Convenient departure points in top Vancouver areas
  • The ability to see stunning scenery and top city landmarks
  • Unique local wildlife thrown in for good measure
  • Quick-book smartphone tickets with free cancellation for flexibility

Using this criteria I’ve narrowed down a list of dozens into what I consider the top boat trips from Vancouver.

Let’s take a look!

Choosing the Best Vancouver Boat Tours

vancouver eco safari boat tour along the shoresHowe Sound Eco Safari – Best Vancouver Boat Tour for Wildlife

Departure: Sewell’s Marina (West Vancouver) | Length: 2 hours | Cost: From $109.20

If you’re taking this boat tour it’s because you want less cityscapes and more wild west coast fjord scenery.

Expect some bumps and splashes aboard this thrilling zodiac trip, but don’t worry – they kit you out with gloves, goggles, and a life vest.

This Canadian Signature Experience involves exploring unspoiled wilderness in nearby Howe Sound, with full captain narration on the history and culture of Vancouver.

What you’ll see: granite cliffs, bald eagle nesting spots, hidden waterfalls, sunbathing seals, fir and cedar forests, and more.

In booking with the button above you can get free cancellation tickets up to 24 hours before departure.

a vancouver whale watching tour group observing a killer whale off the coast of vancouver

Half Day Whale Watching Tour – Best Whale Watching Boat Tour in Vancouver

Departure: 1516 Duranleau St. (Granville Island) | Length: 5 hours | Cost: From $235.99

This is the Vancouver boat tour that offers a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it’s for people that couldn’t care less about cookie cutter day cruises and want a unique experience.

Vancouver whale watching tours are the easiest way to do this, particularly via a custom-built, high-speed luxury catamaran that’ll have you exploring local killer whale grounds in a flash.

These are the biggest boats in the fleet, meaning it’s perfect if you don’t have your sea legs.

Each tour comes with 3 naturalist guides, a wide variety of educational material, free drinks, and even a complimentary photo souvenir package.

What you’ll see: killer whales, humpback whales, grey whales, minke whales, bald eagles, seals, sealions, and more.

In booking with the button above you can get free cancellation tickets up to 24 hours before departure.

Curious? Read 1600+ Half Day Whale Watching Tour reviews from recent ticket buyers.

two tourists taking a photograph of the setting sun from a vancouver sunset boat tour

Vancouver Harbor Sunset Dinner Cruise – Best Sunset Boat Tour in Vancouver

Departure: 501 Denman St. (downtown) | Length: 2.5 hours | Cost: From $269.00

If you’re looking for dramatic sunset photography opportunities, a west coast themed dinner, and even live music then this is the Vancouver harbour boat tour for you.

Leaving at 7:00 pm from Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver, you’ll get great views of the glowing city skyline and stunning Pacific horizon aboard this double-decker paddle wheeler.

This is the most leisurely boat tour you’ll find, and it’s great for couples looking for unique ways to celebrate.

What you’ll see: Vancouver harbour, Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, the North Shore Mountains, and more.

vancouver boat tour passing under the lions gate bridgeBowen Island Boat Cruise and Dinner – Best All in One Boat Tour

Departure: Boat Lift Lane (Granville Island) | Length: 3.5 hours | Cost: From $171.00

If you’re looking for an elevated boat tour experience, perhaps for a special occasion, then this boat tour with a dinner that can rival Vancouver’s best restaurants is a great shout.

This tour departs at 5:30 pm from legendary Granville Island – passing by many top city landmarks with fact-filled Vancouver commentary that’ll have you an expert in no time.

You’ll head to Bowen Island (one of the city’s cutest rural sea escape towns), where you’ll have dinner and drinks before heading back to Vancouver during sunset. Yes, this is a sunset boat tour, a dinner cruise, and a harbour tour all in one ticket!

What you’ll see: Vancouver harbour, a rural British Columbia town, local wildlife, Vancouver at sunset.

In booking with the button above you can get free cancellation and reserve now & pay later tickets.

Curious? Read Bowen Island Cruise and Dinner reviews from recent ticket buyers.

group of people getting ready on a vancouver city and seals scenic boat tour wearing their life jackets

Vancouver City and Seals Scenic Boat Tour by Vancouver Water Adventures

Departure: Mast Tower | Length: 1 hour and 30 minutes | Cost: From $85.00

Explore the beauty of Vancouver, Canada, on a 90-minute boat tour Vancouver.

A local boat tour guide will show you around the coastline of English Bay, taking you to popular spots like Lighthouse Park, the Seal Colony, and False Creek. You’ll see famous places like Stanley Park, English Bay Beach, the Lions Gate Bridge, and the homes of West Vancouver.

The boat tour kicks off at Granville Island’s shopping district, heading towards Vancouver Harbour. Cruise along the English Bay coastline, reach Lighthouse Park, visit the Seal Colony, and finally, enter False Creek in the city center.

To stay around the area longer after your Vancouver boat tour, book on any best hotels near Granville Island in Vancouver.

group of people in the middle of sea vancouver city and harbour tour with one woman raising her hand as she is amaze by the scenic beauty of nature

Sea Vancouver City and Harbour Tour

Departure: Duranleau St.| Length: 1 hour and 30 minutes | Cost: From $106.99

Enjoy the view from Sea Vancouver City and Harbour Tour with Vancouver’s tall buildings from the water on a small boat that fits 12 people.

This Vancouver boat tour takes you through Vancouver Harbour, Burrard Inlet, English Bay, and False Creek, where you’ll see important places in the city.

Keep your camera ready because there are bald eagles, seals, and dolphins in Vancouver Harbour. The boat can go up to 30 mph (48 kph).

amazing view on the granite falls zodiac tour showing from the blue boat carrying couple of people with their life jackets on

Granite Falls Zodiac Tour by Vancouver Water Adventures

Departure: Mast Tower | Length: 3 hours | Cost: From $139.00

Discover Vancouver from the water on this 3-hour zodiac boat tour starting from Granville Island. See Siwash Rock and the Lion’s Gate Bridge as you cross False Creek.

Learn about Vancouver’s landmarks in the harbor. Explore Deep Cove and the Indian Arm glacial fjord for amazing views of cliffs only visible by boat.

Don’t forget to capture the beauty of Granite Falls and Silver Falls before heading back.

Are Vancouver BC Boat Cruises Worth It?

Not everybody has $199.99 to go big or go home with a five-hour whale watching tour, and that’s understandable.

If these prices seem a little high you may want to consider the Vancouver Hop on Hop Off bus tour, which is equally educational though it won’t have the same scenic element.

You can also get a $15.00 day pass to ride the Aquabus between some of Vancouver’s top attractions, though this is generally for commuters and tends to hug the shoreline on the non-mountain side of downtown. 

capilano suspension bridge and grouse mountain tour banner for 2024

That said, how many times in life can you take a Vancouver BC boat tours of one of the most beautiful cities on earth?

As a splurge or celebratory activity for locals, or a way for tourists to learn the city, this is a unique and stunning way to discover Vancouver.

With basic boat tours of Vancouver starting at $51.40 per person (the price of a dinner out) it’s something to really consider.


Boat Tours of Vancouver FAQ

How much do Vancouver boat tours cost?

The typical Vancouver boat tours cost around $50.00 while the prices can rise exponentially for wildlife tours ($100.00), sunset dinner cruises ($150.00), and whale-watching tours ($200.00).

What are the best day cruises in Vancouver?

The best day cruise in Vancouver is the One Hour Harbour Tour, which is ideal for sightseeing and educational commentary. On the other hand, for those looking to explore typical BC coastal life the Howe Sound Eco Safari is the best bet.

What day cruises in Vancouver are good for avoiding crowds?

The best day-in cruises in Vancouver that are good for avoiding crowds are simply to book cruises that roll out with smaller boats, and this would include the Howe Sound Eco Safari, the Half Day Whale Watching Tour, and the Bowen Island Boat Cruise.

What will I see on Vancouver boat cruises?

Things to see on Vancouver boat cruises are the iconic sails of Canada Place. Expect views of the city skyline, mountains, Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge. From there on it’s dependent on the tour company, and you could be out exploring islands, whales, eagle nesting grounds etc.

What do I need to bring with me on my boat tour?

Things I need to bring with me on my boat tour are weather-suitable clothing. Lifejacks and goggles etc. are handled by the company. For all tours though every guest will need to bring photo ID (passport or ID card) to board.

Ready for a Vancouver Boat Tour?

I aim to address all inquiries regarding living and traveling in Vancouver, and I hope I’ve accomplished that in this discussion.

Nevertheless, if you still have questions about Vancouver boat tours or anything else, feel free to drop a comment below.

Regardless of whether you choose to go on these tours or not, we encourage you to rely on us for all your Vancouver planning needs.

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