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When is the Best Time to See Killer Whales in Vancouver?

Vancouver whale watching is one of the most stunning water activities in the world – and the region’s famed killer whales are the star of the show.

But when is the best time to see killer whales in Vancouver?

Let’s break things down.

The 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.

When are orcas in Vancouver? I’m gonna break it down right now.

Related: When is the Best Time to See Humpback Whales in Vancouver?

Vancouver Orca Watching Season

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

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.

⚠️ Warning! We are in high season (June-October 2023)

Tours tend to sell out in advance – I strongly suggest locking in your dates with buy now/pay later Vancouver whale watching tickets on Viator.

These tickets are fully refundable up to 24 hours before so there’s no risk in guaranteeing your spot.

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.

In addition to orcas, at various times throughout the year, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other species, including:

  • Humpback whales
  • Grey whales
  • Minke whales
  • Various species of porpoises and dolphins

Yes, the heart of whale watching season just happens to coincide with peak Vancouver summer weather – you may even get a tan!

Related: What to Wear Whale Watching Vancouver

Best Time to See Orcas in Vancouver: The Guarantee

On the fence about booking a Vancouver whale-watching tour?

Well, you should know that these tours come with a 95% success rate. In fact, most providers are so confident that you’ll see a whale that they now offer a year-round whale sighting guarantee.

If you don’t see a whale you’ll receive a free voyage on a future departure of your choosing.

This applies to all the Vancouver whale watching tours listed below:

With each of these tours you have the advantage of book now and pay later tickets.

*From mid-November-March Vancouver Whale watching tours are not available. You’ll need to book a Victoria whale-watching tour on nearby Vancouver Island if you wish to go whale watching during this period.

Related: Is Whale Watching in Vancouver Worth It?

Still Wondering When is the Best Time to See Orcas in Vancouver?

I’m trying to answer every Vancouver tourist question, but maybe you’ve got something a little more custom in mind.

Whether it’s the best time of year to see orcas in Vancouver or anything else, don’t be afraid to get in touch in the comments below for free advice.

Enjoy orca season in Vancouver ?

Related: How Much is Whale Watching in Vancouver?


I've lived in 5 countries and created content for travel websites like eDreams and Amex Essentials, but here I finally get to work my passion project - my hometown, Vancouver!

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