Skip to Content

Whale Watching with Orca Spirit Adventures

Bucket List Complete - Orca Spirit Whale Watching Carpe Diem OUR Way Family Travel Blog 15

Whale Watching with Orca Spirit Adventures

After being in Victoria just one day, I knew I had to get on the boat and go whale watching with… Orca Spirit Adventures. I just couldn’t wait. We had been invited by Tourism Vancouver and when I saw that they were located right next to our hotel, I walked into their storefront and surprisingly, found it still open despite it nearing 7pm! I inquired about heading out the following morning instead of our scheduled trip in 4 days. Their customer service staff was happy to be accommodating and were able to move our reservation without any trouble. All the while, my two kids ran for the stuffed animals in the gift shop and began to tear through them, in search of their favourites (I knew what I was buying after our tour!) I managed to wrangle them out of the store without any broken collectables, or any stuffed animals, and we continued our walk along the beautiful breakwater in Victoria. A long time “Bucket List” item would be ticked off the following morning, and I got to share it with my family.

If you are going to be in Port McNeill and Want to go Whale Watching, check out this post


If you are looking for more great outdoor and wildlife experiences in Vancouver, check out Waking up Wild

The next morning arrived and we packed warm clothes, snacks, and my camera (I shoot Canon if you are wondering). I could barely contain my excitement. I had amped up the boys, and they too were excited for the trip! Along with my mum, we headed over to the check in desk at Orca Spirit Adventures, only to find no one else waiting outside. A little confused, we walked inside, only to be told the boat was leaving from the inner harbour dock that day! Yikes, a 15 minute walk with a 4 and 2 year old and only 20 minutes to get there would be tight! We got our passes from the office, I threw Markus onto my shoulders and off we started running! I was not going to miss the boat! We didn’t get too far when Alex, one of the Orca Spirit Naturalists caught up to us! He told us that the boat was actually parked outside the storefront and he could give us a lift over to the other dock! WAHOOO!!

Patiently Waiting to Head out to find the Whales

Patiently Waiting to Head out to find the Whales

We climbed onto the boat with him and had it, and him, to ourselves before everyone else boarded. “Holy Cow! I’ve always wanted to go this fast!” Mattias cried to Alex, as the captain hit the throttle and we headed to the other dock to pick up the rest of the passengers! Alex suggested we sit inside, because everyone heads to the open upper deck, and ends up freezing! Since its often close to an hour before they get out to the whales in the Juan de Fuca Straight, we took his advice, took of our coats, and accepted a complementary hot chocolate, and coloring books (for the boys) and listened to him tell us a bit about the boat, the whales and the wildlife in the waters off the west coast of Canada.

Keeping busy heading out to the Juan de Fuca Straight

Keeping busy heading out to the Juan de Fuca Straight
One of our first glimpses of the pod

One of our first glimpses of the pod

In did in fact take just over an hour, but Captain Bill found a Transient Pod of orcas with a calf in their group. Just as we arrived, we were lucky enough to witness one of the orcas spy hopping right in front of us, but were unable to quickly snap a photo!

The Young Calf, breaching the surface

The Young Calf, breaching the surface

We watched the young calf at his mothers side, clumily spraying from his blowhole, as he had not quite figured out how to breach from the water and breathe at the same time.

A Mature Male in the Pod

A Mature Male in the Pod, Along with a Mother and her Calf

We saw a mature male, with a huge fluke, swim through the water with such speed and poise as he traveled with his pod through the waters of the Juan de Fuca Straight.

[su_quote]“This is totally amazing!” Mattias cried from the upper deck of the boat, “I”™m holding on so I don”™t fall out!”[/su_quote]

We watched the pod as it moved through the water to the “Ohhhh” and “Ahhhhh” of the other people on the vessel! We took some photos and enjoyed watching the excited faces of the boys, as the whales appeared from a 3 minute submergence. “This is totally amazing!” Mattias cried from the upper deck of the boat, “I’m holding on so I don’t fall out!” It was so cool to see the orca”™s in their natural habitat. I wish we could have followed the pod all day!

While we did not see a superpod, or a local K pod, it was amazing to see these beautiful creatures in the ocean. Whale watching with Orca Spirit Adventures was an unreal experience, and with their an amazing success rate at finding whales, they did not disappoint us today!

the Stinky Sea Lions

the Stinky Sea Lions

After spending about an hour following the pod, Captain Bill took us over to the Sea Lions to show us what the Orca’s dine on. They were HUGE! And STINKY! But it was interesting to see predator and then prey in their environment. The captain allowed us to sit at the helm of the vessel for the return trip to the harbour, Mattias was fascinated with the compass and Markus drifted off to sleep in Grannie”™s arms. What an amazing morning.


We thoroughly enjoyed our time whale watching with Orca Spirit Adventures; Alex and Sheena, the on-board naturalists for our tour, were very informative and were able to explain things to the boys so that they would understand!

Why Not Try a Thrilling Zodiac Ride

Why Not Try a Thrilling Zodiac Ride

When booking a tour with Orca Spirit Adventures you have the option of a thrilling zodiac ride or a covered vessel with more comforts (heat, washrooms, room to move about). Because we had small children, we were happy to ride on the Pacific Explorer I which seats up to 70 guests. On the day of our trip, there were less than 40 people onboard and there was plenty of room to move about in the heated, covered cabin, enjoy a coffee and gaze out the window. But most of the guests chose to sit in the open air deck above the cabin and keep their eyes peeled for the first orca sighting!

The Top Deck of the Pacific Explorer I

The Top Deck of the Pacific Explorer I
Enjoying the inside of the cabin while we head out of Victoria Harbor

Enjoying the inside of the cabin while we head out of Victoria Harbor

If you want my advice, stick to the cabin (unless of course it is a gorgeous, hot day), the captain will likely find the whales before you do, and will give you lots of time to get photos as the boat comes to a stop.

We had to get souvenirs of our adventure! Maths chose "Wally" the Sea Lion (but he isn't Stinky) and Markus chose "Whale"

We had to get souvenirs of our adventure! Maths chose “Wally” the Sea Lion (but he isn’t Stinky) and Markus chose “Whale”

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 829,828,827,826,825,824,820,819,817,816,815,814,813,812,811,810,809,808,807,806″ limit=”26″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”140″ height=”140″ title=”never”][su_custom_gallery source=”media: 564,579,585,582,581,580,579″ link=”image”][/su_custom_gallery]

Want More?

Things to do in Victoria in the Rain

40 Things to do in Vancouver

Weekend Getaways from Vancouver


[su_frame]If you found this page helpful, i would love it if you would pin, share or tweet it on whatever social media platforms you use! Every little bit will help us fund our travels and continue to bring great content to our site![/su_frame]


You can hover over these (or any image on my site) to quickly… pin it… !

Bucket List- Orca Spirit Whale Watching Carpe Diem OUR Way Family Travel Blog 14

Editors Disclosure: We received complementary passes for Orca Spirit Adventures from Tourism Vancouver. As always, all opinions are our own.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Therese says:

    This would have been really exciting. We occasionally get orcas down this end of the world in Australia but it’s mostly humpback whales so the whale-watching season between Aug – Oct is very popular. Hope one day to see one of these beautiful orcas on my travels.

  2. Nancy says:

    Whale watching is the best!

  3. Ollie says:

    Oh I envy you so much! 😉 I dream about whale watching and I would love to dive with them at least once! This summer I was in Sardinia where you can spot some of them but I was not lucky and weather conditions didn’t allow as even to take a cruise.

  4. Whale watching has always been a good activity for kids! Glad you guys enjoyed!

  5. Laura Lynch says:

    The orcas are so majestic. It’s one of the cool parts of living in the NW, we get to see them often, even from land. You got some really great shots.

  6. Really want to go whale watching!! It’s been one of those things where I’ve always been in the right place at the wrong time! Always missing whale-watching season! Looks like such an amazing time!

  7. Lesley says:

    This sounds amazing. I love that you can take small children. I want to book it for Athena and I! We would both be in heaven.

  8. Amélie says:

    Looks like an amazing experience for the whole family! I went irrawady dolphin watching in Cambodia a few months ago and I didn’t expect it to be as exciting as it was lol 🙂

  9. Gemma says:

    That’s it, we’ve decided to make our way to Vancouver Island after reading this post! The only orca i’ve managed to see is the Digital Orca in Van, it’s cool but not real deal. Awesome post, buzzing about our trip now.

  10. noel says:

    That looks like an amazing day out with the boys and all that wildlife, wonderful. I did something like this in Monterrey, CA and it was fun but no whales at that time.

  11. The whales look amazing but I would be very excited to see the sea lions too! Thanks for this great post!

  12. We recently went whale watching in Sydney. I did not expect to be so enthralled by the experience. Waiting for the whales and trying to predict where they would pop up was exhilarating.