Vancouver: Bear and Whale Watching Tour
Bear and Whale Watching with The Whale Centre Tofino
Get There: Right on the main street at 411 Cambell Street Tofino, or check out their website
Cost: Whale watching tour- $85, Bear watching tour- $85, Hike to Lone Cone- $40
Tofino is a tiny town on Vancouver island, largely visited by surfers looking to ride its legendary break however, if you’re like me and the thought of jumping in the Pacific when it’s 8 degrees out doesn’t quite sound like your idea of a good time, there’s a bunch of other things worth doing one of which includes getting acquainted with the local wildlife.
First thing on the cards for me was to try and spot some whales. Tofino is known for hosting various species of whale throughout the year so regardless of season, you’re likely to be lucky enough to encounter one of the ocean’s largest creatures.
After clambering into some fairly unflattering yet thankfully very warm survival suits, the eight of us jumped in the boat and headed out into the open water in search of whales. The comfortable yet small boat and small group made for an intimate experience when we did find our whales, courtesy of our skilled skipper. I was pleasantly surprised at how close the whales do surface to the boat, and happy to see a real respect from the company in regards to giving the whales space to breach without disruption.
Next up was the bear tour which took place in the same small boat and thankfully still intimate group. While searching for bears, our boat passed through the scattering of islands that make up Clayoquot Sounds, allowing us to take in some of the most supremely beautiful scenery I’ve seen in Canada. In each direction are small, mountainous islands where pine trees meet the beach and bears come to feed at low tide. We were lucky enough to have long close encounters with the bears, offering up perfect photo opportunities in the picturesque scenery.
After traveling through Clayoquot Sounds by boat, I decided to hike to one of the highest points of the islands Lone Cone. The Whale Centre runs boat trips out to the start of the hike and from there organize a pick up time for later that afternoon, leaving you to enjoy the hike at your own pace. The hike, while super difficult considering I had exchanged my daily exercise for wine and cigarettes for the last few months, was breathtaking once you reach the top. If you manage to tear through the hike you can always call the office and they will do their best to send a boat out earlier for you.
Obviously I had a good time with the guys at The Whale Centre since I kept going back. Everyone did their best to help me make the most of my time in Tofino so I highly recommend dropping by when you’re in town and having a chat about what activities are on. The Whale Centre Tofino run tours based on demand, which ends up being practically daily considering how popular their tours are but your best bet would be to get in contact via email or go in and chat to the staff there about when tours are scheduled. The Whale Centre is affiliated with the local hostels which makes things easy and slightly cheaper if you’re crashing in one.