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a humpback whale breaches on a cowichan bay whale watching tour

4 Best Victoria Whale Watching Tours in 2024

Victoria whale watching tours are easily one of the best ways to enjoy Vancouver Island’s natural beauty.

Not to mention, they allow you to get up close with a killer whale or even feel the thunderous clap of a humpback whale’s jump – just minutes from your hotel room!

Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

  1. The Best Victoria Whale Tours
  2. Victoria Whale Watching Tour Prices
  3. How to Book
  4. Victoria Whale Watching Tips
  5. FAQs

Victoria Whale Watching Tours: How to Go on Whale Watching Tours in 2024

All of our Victoria whale watching tours take place in the sheltered waters of the Salish Sea and the Haro Strait. The area is renowned for its abundance of killer whales. But it’s also prime territory to spot humpbacks, greys, and minke whales.

The tours are offered year-round. However, the most popular time to set sail is between March and October.

Not only is this the peak season for most species of whales, but the mild Victoria weather will serve to enhance your experience even further. For these reasons and more, a tour is one of the top things to do in Victoria for visitors of all ages. Let’s learn more together:

⛴️ Visiting from the mainland? Check out our guide on how to get to Victoria from Vancouver.

The Best Victoria Whale Tours

Top operator: Prince of Whales Victoria

In my eyes, Prince of Whales is the operator that offers the best Victoria whale watching tours. Their use of air spotters increases your chances of encountering multiple whale species up close and personal.

Best of all, they offer a whale-spotting guarantee – if you don’t see a whale, you’ll get another tour for free! So what do you have to lose?

Here are a few more reasons that Price of Whales is our favourite Victoria whale watching provider:

  • Reputation: Prince of Whales has been the top whale watching tour company in British Columbia for over 25 years. Their reputation for safety, reliability, and customer service is unbeatable, as evidenced by thousands of glowing reviews on Viator.
  • Flexibility: With operations throughout the province, Prince of Whales has the largest fleet on the West Coast. Whether you’re looking for a heart-pumping adventure aboard a zodiac or a relaxing luxury cruise on a custom-built catamaran, they’ve got it all.
  • Variety: You can choose from half-day whale watching adventures, morning and sunset tours, and super-fast zodiac whale tours. This makes them the perfect choice for all travellers regardless of age, fitness, or budget.
  • Location: Prince of Whales’ central Wharf Street location is the most convenient of any provider. It’s just steps away from Victoria’s best hotels, popular attractions, and Victoria’s top restaurants. This makes it perfect for day trippers, cruise passengers, or anyone with limited time.

Here’s a look at their top Victoria whale watching tours:


Victoria Half-Day Whale Watching Tours

Duration: 5 hours | Departure Point: Wharf Street | Season: Apr-Oct | Cost: From CA$199.99

For the most comfortable and family-friendly option, I recommend Prince of Whales’ half-day tour aboard the Salish Sea Eclipse.

This 3+ hour fully-guided adventure aboard a partially enclosed catamaran is their most popular tour.

The custom-built catamaran is warm and dry, carrying up to 95 passengers in comfort. You’ll depart from the scenic Inner Harbour and cruise the Strait of Juan de Fuca in search of stunning orcas and humpback whales.

The knowledgeable crew of certified naturalists will also share their knowledge and wisdom about the animals and the ecosystem they call home.

Your Half-Day Victoria Whale Watching Tour Includes:

  • Full guided tour aboard purpose-built catamaran
  • Heated enclosed cabin with floor-ceiling windows
  • 22ft outdoor 360
  • washrooms
  • Year-round whale sighting guarantee
  • Crew of 3-4 certified naturalists
  • Complimentary coffee, tea, and hot cocoa
  • Free photo package

Heading up island? Check out our guide to Cowichan Bay whale-watching tours.




Victoria Zodiac Whale Watching Tours

Duration: 3 hours | Departure Point: Wharf Street | Season: Year-round | Cost: From CA$199.99

On the lookout for a little more of a thrill? Prince of Whales’ most heart-pounding whale adventure is a bit of a hat-holder, and I’m telling you from experience.

First, you’ll zip up your Mustang suit and jump aboard a purpose-built zodiac. You’ll then idle slowly through the Inner Harbour past Victoria’s famous harbour planes and pickle boats – a decent sight in itself. Then we get the party started. 

The captain opens up the Zodiac’s twin 300hp Mercury outboards and lets her rip! Now you’re on the hunt for orcas and humpbacks and other once-in-a-lifetime wildlife – as feel the refreshing sea spray cools your face – at speeds of up to 55 km/h

Zodiac tours are the only Victoria whale watching option available year-round. However, you’d be wise to keep your eyes on the weather forecast – as it can be a bumpy ride.

*Not recommended for children under 4 feet tall, pregnant women, seniors, those with limited mobility, people who have recently undergone surgery, or those with neck/back injuries.

Your Victoria Zodiac whale watching tour includes:

  • Fully guided tour aboard a 12-person open-air Zodiac
  • Ride up to 55 km/h through the Salish Sea
  • Accompanied by a certified captain/naturalist
  • Year-round whale sighting guarantee
  • Mustang suits, gloves, hats, and goggles provided

Related: Best Victoria Bike Tours




Victoria Sunset Whale Watching Tour

Duration: 3 hours | Departure Point: Wharf Street | Season: Apr-Oct | Cost: From CA$179.99

If you’re looking for an unforgettable way to end your day in Victoria, then the Sunset Whale Watching Tour is the way to go.

Picture this: you’re on a partially enclosed catamaran, cruising the beautiful waters of the Salish Sea while watching the sun go down in a blaze of red and orange. It’s a photographer’s dream come true! And that’s not even the best part.

You’ll get to see the same amazing marine life as you would on the half-day tour, including orcas, humpbacks, greys, and more.

Your Sunset Victoria Whale Watching Tour Includes:

  • Full guided tour aboard purpose-built catamaran
  • Heated enclosed cabin with floor-ceiling windows
  • 22ft outdoor 360-degree viewing platform
  • 2 washrooms
  • Year-round whale sighting guarantee
  • Crew of 3-4 certified naturalists
  • Complimentary coffee, tea, and hot cocoa
  • Free photo package

Related: Best Victoria City Tours



a vessel embarks on a Fisherman's Wharf Victoria whale watching tour.

Victoria Fisherman’s Wharf Whale Watching Tours

Duration: 3 hours | Departure Point: Fisherman’s Wharf | Season: Apr-Oct | Cost: From CA$171.15

We’ve waxed lyrical about Prince of Whales being our favourite provider, and that remains the case. But one thing that they can’t offer is departures from Victoria Fisherman’s Wharf.

Situated on the fringes of the Inner Harbour near the cruise terminal, this picturesque area is a great spot to grab some fish and chips, partake in a Victoria kayaking tour, or go whale watching!

Though Prince of Whales doesn’t operate in the area, Orca Spirit Adventures is there to pick up the slack. They provide the same level of safety and flexibility, not to mention the coveted whale sighting guarantee.

Their covered vessels all offer comfortable seating, full washroom facilities, and elevated outdoor 360-degree panoramic viewing decks. So you’re guaranteed a safe, comfortable, and thrilling experience on your Fisherman’s Wharf whale watching adventure.

Your Fisherman’s Wharf Whale Watching Tour includes:

  • Guided 3-hr Salish Sea whale watching tour
  • Luxury covered vessel with heated indoor cabins and outdoor viewing area
  • Certified marine biologist onboard
  • Hot beverage and snacks
  • Hotel or cruise port pickup
  • Whale sighting guarantee

Related: The Best Day Trips from Victoria: Gateway to an Eco-tourism Paradise


Victoria Whale Watching Prices

Half-day TourWharf StreetCA$199.99 More Info
Zodiac TourWharf StreetCA$199.99 More Info
Sunset TourWharf StreetCA$179.99 More Info
Orca Spirit AdventuresFisherman’s WharfCA$171.15More Info

Related: Nanaimo Whale Watching: Experience the Marine Majesty

How to Book Your Victoria Whale Watching Tour

Warning: For environmental reasons, tours run at limited capacities. Make sure to book your tickets well in advance, or you may wind up being left at the dock.

Booking tickets for Victoria orca tours is as simple as shopping on Amazon – in fact, it’s even faster.

We’ll take a quick walkthrough of the process using our most popular option: the Victoria Half-day Whale Watching Tour.

But remember, the same steps apply to all of our links.

1. Open the Victoria Whale Tour of Your Choice

  • Head to the Half-day Whale Watch portal on Viator.
  • Here, you’re booking with a publicly traded company (Tripadvisor) with a $3 billion market cap.
  • Booking with Viator gets you to book-now-pay-later killer whale tours, which helps a lot with budgeting.
  • You’re also locking in Viator’s lowest price guarantee to help you save money.

2. Select Your Departure Time

  • Click the green ‘Check Availability’ button on the tour page
  • Select a date on the calendar (between April 1st – October 31st)
  • Choose the number of people and click ‘Apply’
  • Select your time and click ‘Reserve Now & Pay Later’ or ‘Book Now’

FYI: If you choose ‘Reserve Now & Pay Later,’ you’ll have the option to pay for the tickets at any point up to 48 hours before the whale tour.

Change your mind? Either way, you can cancel your tickets free of charge up to 24 hours before.

Voila! You can lock in your killer whale tour of Victoria dates in less than 2 minutes.



Related: Campbell River Whale Watching: An Insider’s Guide

Victoria Whale Watching Tips

Head out early in your trip

It’s always a good idea to plan your whale watching tour early on during your visit to Victoria. Not only will you have the chance to spot some amazing marine life, but you’ll also have the opportunity to take advantage of the whale sighting guarantee if needed.

Although the chances of not spotting any whales are quite low, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Plus, having a free trip aboard a future journey to look forward to can give you the peace of mind you need to fully enjoy the rest of your trip.

Planning on spending two days in Victoria? Check out my Victoria weekend itinerary.

Dress appropriately

First things first, always dress for the season and pack at least a light jacket – even if you’re visiting Victoria in summer. And don’t be fooled by the sunshine; out on the water, the mercury always takes a dip, and the breeze tends to kick it up a few notches. 

  • Gloves and beanies/toques are a must in cooler months but will likely be supplied
  • Long pants will be preferable to skirts or shorts unless at the peak of Summer
  • If you’re departing in the summer, don’t forget a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Most importantly, dress in layers, i.e. a thin over your skin, a light hoodie or sweatshirt and a light jacket

*Check to see what items are included in your tour beforehand. You’ll likely be provided with hats, gloves and floater jackets if you opt for a zodiac tour.

Grab your tickets online

Booking your whale watching tour in advance is the easiest way to secure the best possible rate. By comparing rates for various packages, you can choose the tour that best fits your needs.

And the best part? You can do it all from the comfort of your own home! Plus, booking online often comes with added benefits such as easy cancellation and rescheduling options.

Monitor the weather

Most Victoria whale watching tours take place in the Salish Sea’s relatively sheltered waters.

In spite of this fact, you should still keep your eye on the weather – particularly if you’re predisposed to seasickness. Tour operators are mindful not to operate during windy conditions. Nevertheless, choppy seas can still appear – even when the sun is shining.

If you’re worried, you can always check with your operator to be sure that the conditions are suitable for your needs. Warm, calm and clear days are ideal for both comfort and whale visibility. So, if possible, do your best to book when the forecast is looking peachy.

Worried that your trip will be cancelled due to inclement weather? You can rest easy knowing that you will be refunded or compensated with tickets on a future date.

Pop a gravol

Sea sickness is never fun, but it’s important to note that it can happen even on calm days. To prevent it, we recommend taking motion sickness medication prior to your tour and eating a light, non-greasy meal beforehand. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol, as it can exacerbate symptoms.

If you do start feeling queasy, try to focus on the horizon and take deep breaths of fresh air. Many boats also have ginger candies or tea on board, which can help settle your stomach.

Additionally, if you’re particularly concerned about motion sickness, we suggest opting for a larger semi-enclosed vessel rather than a zodiac tour. This can provide a more stable experience and minimize any potential discomfort.

Looking to explore Victoria in a flash? Consider the Victoria Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour as well.

Don’t forget your camera

Don’t let a lacklustre camera ruin your whale watching experience! While smartphones are handy for many things, they simply don’t cut it when it comes to capturing the majesty of these incredible creatures.

To truly capture the moment, we recommend investing in a camera with a zoom lens. With the required 100-meter distance between vessels and the whales, a zoom lens is the only way to get up close and personal with these amazing animals.

Investing in a quality camera will allow you to take stunning photos and videos that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. So why settle for subpar smartphone photos when you can have the real deal? Don’t miss out on capturing the awe-inspiring beauty of these gentle giants. Upgrade your camera and elevate your whale watching experience to the next level!

⛴️ Coming from Vancouver? Check out the best Vancouver to Victoria tours


Victoria Whale Watching Tour FAQs

What species of whales can you see on a Victoria whale watching tour?

You can look forward to encountering a variety of majestic whales, including Southern resident and transient killer whales, humpback whales, grey whales, and minke whales.

These magnificent creatures are a sight to behold and are sure to leave you in awe. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness these giants of the sea in their natural habitat!

Where do Victoria whale watching tours leave from?

Tours depart from various locations around the Inner Harbour. However, we highly recommend Prince of Whales’ Wharf Street location as the ideal departure point for your Victoria whale watching tour. Not only is it located right in the heart of the city, but it also offers the most convenient meeting point for most travellers.

With easy access to public transportation and nearby parking, getting to and from the departure point couldn’t be simpler. You’ll also find tours offered from Fisherman’s Wharf if you find yourself in the area.

When is the best time to go whale watching in Victoria?

If you’re looking to maximize your chances of seeing whales during your visit to Victoria, we recommend booking your whale watching tour during the peak season from April to October. While whales can be found in the local waters throughout the year, demand for tours may be lower due to weather conditions outside of this period.

However, if you’re still keen on a thrilling Zodiac Tour, Prince of Whales offers these tours year-round. Just be sure to keep an eye on the weather and dress appropriately for the conditions.

Related: Telegraph Cove Whale Watching: An Unforgettable Experience

All geared up and ready for a Victoria whale watching tour?

Embarking on a Victoria whale watching tour is an experience like no other. The thrill of spotting these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a memory that will last a lifetime.

From the stunning scenery to the expert guides, everything about these tours is designed to make your journey unforgettable.

So why wait? Book your Victoria whale watching tour today and get ready to be swept away by the breathtaking beauty of the ocean and the majestic whales that call it home.

Enjoy whale watching in Victoria 🙂

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