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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, BC mamas, we're heading your way. Our son's kindergarten teacher did an incredible segment on whales this year and we want to see them. Can any of you locals suggest the best tour companies, best places to leave from, best campgrounds, and any other tidbits of knowledge that will help us have a great experience? Many thanks for your time!
 

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Which part of BC are you heading to?

The best way to see the whales is to take a whale watching tour from the west coast of Vancouver Island. You may get lucky and see some orcas on the ferry on the way over to the island, too. We went to Tofino for our honeymoon and went on a zodiac whale watching tour. It was SUPER fun, and we saw lots of grey whales (they even rubbed under the boat), seals, otters, and eagles. Lots of tour companies in Tofino also offer trips to a small island that has a hot spring you can swim in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cool! Thanks for the info. I got online last night and found a lot about north island stuff, like tours out of Alert Bay/Telegraph Cove/Port McNeill. But Tofino sounds nice. Is it pretty calm waters? My hubby thinks he'll get seasick. Off to research Tofino now...
 

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Tofino's not what I'd call "calm" waters. If it's not too windy and rainy it'll be nice. The other great benefit of Tofino is Long Beach and the National Park all around it. Loads of interpretive trails. Loads of beaches. The interpretative center at Wickanninnish is pretty cool, too. Long Beach is literally MILES long. And beautiful.
 

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As a former North Islander, I have have to add a rave and a vote for the north island. Lots of pristine wilderness, trails, and waaaaay less tourists than Tofino. A longer trip, though. Strathcona park has lots of great camping (though on lakes, not on the ocean), and there are lots of smaller forestry campsites all over the north island.

The waters are generally a bit calmer on the east coast of the island (more protected), though there can be crazy currents and no guarantee of avoiding sea sickness. Oh yeah, and lots of whales and other marine wildlife.

Sorry to confuse things with opposite advice! One thing to know is that both Tofino/Uclulet and the North Island are prone to lots of rain. Most whale watching companies will help outfit you for this. If you want (more) predictable weather, I'd go for Victoria- but then you lose out on a lot of the wilderness element.

Good luck & enjoy!
 

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DH and I took a small sea plane trip (beaver? otter? something like that...like a 6 or 8 seater) from Tofino last summer. (Just a half hour- hour trip) We were able to see tons of whales as well as incredible landscape & beach scenery. I would also recommend Tofino. It is absolutely stunning there!
 

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Sorry to be a downer, but I've read some very sobering stuff on the negative effects of commercial whale-watching on whales - the Zodiacs have an especially bad rep for harassing whales. You may want to do a search on this before supporting it. Don't know about whale-watching by seaplane, as someone mentioned, maybe that would be less harmful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
mammastar2, I am aware of this situation, and did some research before we left. We chose a good company. The owner is a conservation marshall. I'm glad you brought this up, though, because many people aren't aware of the issue.

For those who want to go, let me tell you my experience. We went to Port McNeill, in the north island. We stayed at a funky little Inn. I think it had 6 rooms. We chose to go out with the MacKay company. It is family owned and operated. They are very nice people. The owner/captain has been involved in conservation efforts on the island for 30+ years. He and his son took us out. We saw orcas, humpbacks, a few kinds of seals, bald eagles, and other wildlife. (We also heard some scary tales about the cougars and bears around the area!) It was a fantastic trip and totally worth the week we spent in the car to get there.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mammastar2
Sorry to be a downer, but I've read some very sobering stuff on the negative effects of commercial whale-watching on whales - the Zodiacs have an especially bad rep for harassing whales. You may want to do a search on this before supporting it. Don't know about whale-watching by seaplane, as someone mentioned, maybe that would be less harmful.
I used to work for a company called Bluewater Adventures, they do awesome trips on a sailboat. www.bluewateradventures.ca they have a naturalist onboard all trips, and often a biologist too, and are very careful not to disturb the whales.
 
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