Often four to five days in advance is enough notice for the larger semi-enclosed vessels. The Lightship only has twelve seats and tends to book up quickly. If you know when you want to go, book your trip. You may cancel 48 hours prior to departure without penalty if your travel plans change.
Vancouver Whale Watch™ observes the guidelines established by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA). We are allowed to get within 200 meters from Transient Killer Whales and 100 meters for Humpback Whales. At this distance you get an excellent view of the whales.
The chance of seeing whales varies within the season. We work with a network of whale watching operators and share sighting information; this gives us a sighting success rate of 95%. We typically travel through the Canadian Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands. Passengers can see a variety of wildlife including Orcas, Humpback Whales, Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Porpoises, Bald Eagles and more.
Vancouver Whale Watch™ is located 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver, in Richmond, just south of the airport. If you have your own vehicle, parking is available. Driving directions can be found on the website. Another option is to make reservations on one of our three Orca Express shuttles, we pick up from nine locations in downtown Vancouver and from most Richmond hotels.
We recommend all guests dress warmly in layers as it is always colder on the water.
Pack a lunch or snack, remember you may be out on your trip for 5 hours.
Bring sunglasses, sunscreen and your camera.
If you are on the open zodiac wear at least three layers of clothing and running shoes or similar footwear flip flops not recommended. We provide you with a Cruiser suit, hat and gloves for the smaller vessel.
All our vessels are zodiac style which means they ride on top of the water rather than pounding through it offering a stable, comfortable ride. Both boats travel in relatively the same areas, travel at similar speeds and you view the whales from the same distance. Some passengers consider the smaller open zodiac to be a more thrilling, adventurous experience. We compare the Explorathor vessel to a Cadillac and the Lightship 1 to a Convertible. All our boats have washrooms onboard.
Whales are spotted equally in the mornings and afternoons.
We offer two trips daily to accommodate our guests travel schedules. In the spring and fall restricted daylight hours mean we can only take one trip per day.
Yes, definitely. It won’t get wet if you are on the Explorathor or Express. On the Lightship you can keep your camera in your suit pocket, under your suit or for larger cameras there is dry storage under your seat.