On my last day in Tofino before taking a quick trip home to Ontario this past week, I went on my first-ever whale watching tour! Going on one of these tours has been on my Tofino bucket-list since I moved there last May. Some of the whale-watching tour providers will offer a bit of a locals discount, which was something I was super keen to take advantage of!
I went on the tour with some friends in town, and the tour provider we went with was: Jamie’s Whaling Station. Jamie’s is in their 40th year of operating and running tours, and they offer whale-watching, wildlife, bear, and private tours.
Booking the tour was super easy – we simply called an hour before, showed up 15 minutes before the tour, paid, and then were guided down to the dock. Once down at the dock we were given an informational safety chat about our PFD’s, where and how to stand on the boat, and what to do if you start to get seasick.
Once on the boat, we started heading out of town towards Long Beach to look for some sea lions hanging out on the rocks. However, when heading over there we saw some whale spouts in the distance. We followed the spouts and watched 3 or 4 grey whales dive down to the bottom of the ocean – and we got to see their tails as they dove! We stayed watching these whales swim and dive for quite a while before heading elsewhere to find more wildlife.
All of the whale-tour operators communicate over their radios to share where the whales are. So as we were driving away from the grey whales, the captain got a call that there were humpback whales not that far away! We went the directions of the humpback and saw two of them dive down to the bottom. The humpback whales had a really beautiful tail which was super cool to see in the middle of the ocean. These were all the whales that we saw during the tour – but apparently it was more than they have seen in quite a while!
We also saw a little island COVERED in sea-lions lounging. This was super cute and I got some really neat photos of them. However, this area reeked of fish. As we were heading back to the dock to finish the tour, we saw a group of about 70 sea otters swimming past – this was probably my favourite part of the tour!
The crew on our boat were awesome and they did a fantastic job of providing us with information on the local area, the wildlife we saw, and they even threw in some really corny dad jokes! I would recommend doing a tour with Jamie’s Whaling Station if you are looking for a good way to spend a day in Tofino.
I would recommend dressing in layers and being prepared for any type of weather…I definitely didn’t wear warm enough shoes and my toes were chilly after – but I did remember to bring a hat and some mitts and they were much needed.
Another tip I would suggest is that if you are prone to getting seasick (like I am) do not, and I repeat, do not stand at the front of the boat!! Sitting at the back of the boat is much calmer and better on your stomach. I was standing at the front of the boat taking it all in, but then we stopped moving to watch the whales, so the boat was being rocked by the swell. My stomach was not loving that feeling, so I had to sit at the back to take everything in. Jamie’s Whaling Station also sells some ginger candies at their reception – I recommend picking some of these up as a natural way to combat seasickness.
Overall, this was a fantastic tour and a way to sea some of the magnificent wildlife that Tofino has to offer!