Not typically the first bucket list item to come to mind, like Skydiving or Climbing Everest, however whale watching is totally doable regardless of your climbing skill or daredevil nature – you just need to get to an ocean I suppose!
In the beginning, I had my doubts about whale watching. I was nervous about whether or not we would see anything at all. The guarantee the Vancouver Whale Watch offers is that you have to see whales or else you can keep coming back for free. Which, at the time meant we might not see them, but luckily we did and it was awesome! Cedric the owner and his staff were super friendly and immediately put our worries to ease, it was the perfect day to see orcas!
Our boat the ExploraTHOR II was a custom designed whale watching vessel, locally built, and with great name! Their boats were very nice for the moments you are among the whales. While you are traveling their loud and fast, but when you’re with the whales, the windows lift up to reveal whales jumping everywhere around you.
It was a long boat ride, but well worth it. At first, we stopped to see the sea lions and bald eagles, however no whales for a while. Fun, but not whales! The length of the trip was nicely broken up with fun geography facts and such but we started to wish we had brought a deck of cards to help pass the time.
You travel a fair bit south and we were informed that we were actually down in the USA. In U.S waters with gorgeous Mt. Baker in the horizon we were soon in the mist of the J Pod – a pod of orca whales – where they jumped and played, twisting about like none other! Vancouver Whale Watch is a fantastic at identifying each orca and giving us a story. Andy our guide was extremely knowledgeable and taught me more about orcas than I ever thought I would know! For example, female orcas help others give birth by biting the tail of the baby and pulling it out. At times a bit T.M.I but interesting nonetheless.
Our Captain skillfully would match the orcas speed and we got to travel close beside the whales, which were surprisingly quick and agile. Then the Captain would position the boat and cut the engine, allowing the whales to come way closer and it was amazing. You have not lived until you see a baby orca playing alongside their mother up close (way too cute)! Or the massive male dorsal fin that is the size of NFL linebacker, substantially amazing!
Multiple times I found myself sitting next to a stranger who would gasp “AMAZING”… then take a million pictures… and repeat.
While among the whales our excitement was perfectly describe to one another with one smirk that kept up the entire trip! Sort of those “Yes” nods back and forth.
On the way back, we joked and laughed about this one keen photographer passenger who kept on taking photos of every island we passed. There are over 400 islands in the San Juans, it seemed as if she was determined to have a perfect photo for every one of them. Looking back on it, you can’t blame her the trip was beautiful!
Tips and Concerns
- Bring a deck of cards.
- Lots of Snacks- Vancouver Whale Watch gives out a coupon for the local deli and chewy bars during the trip, thoughtful.
- Clear your schedule for the day you are committing to an adventure, why not?
- Bring a camera you will definitely get some cool pictures.
- Wear warm clothes, out on the water it can get chilly.
- Make sure theirs space in your heart to fall in love with a baby orca.
PS: Big thanks to V.W.W