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!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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Editors Disclosure: We received complementary passes for Orca Spirit Adventures from Tourism Vancouver. As always, all opinions are our own.
Lindsay is the founder and editor of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She is passionate about sharing her experiences of traveling with children on adventurous family holidays around the world! She resides in the suburbs of Vancouver when not jet setting abroad.