Tours From Port Renfrew

 

Whale & Wildlife Watching Adventures Off The Beaten Track

Go off grid on a west coast wildlife tour around one of the few communities still (relatively) untouched by commercialization – Port Renfrew, British Columbia.

Known worldwide for its whale watching and marine wildlife viewing opportunities, the small village of Port Renfrew is perfectly placed for eco-tourism, at the junction of the famous West Coast and Juan de Fuca Trails.

“Renny”, as it’s known to locals, offers the simple necessities of life – library, post office, school and general store. There’s also a pub, small selection of eateries and accommodation for those wanting to tuck in for a night far away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

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Tour Highlights

LIGHTHOUSE AT CARMANAH

BC’s Carmanah Point Light Station was established in 1891. The original wooden light casing, attached to the keeper’s housing, was used to guide mariners tackling strong currents and dense fog.

SEA LION ROCK

Hundreds of barking sea lions soak up the sun on Sea Lion Rock. These pinnipeds (flipper footed mammals) fatten up on salmon and herring, eating as much as 77 lbs (35 kg) a day.

WESTCOAST TRAIL

The 75 km (46.6 mile) backpacking trail, made up of a system of telegraph lines and cabins, follows the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island.

Locations

17293 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew

Vessel Types

Covered, Open - Zodiac

Minimum Age

6 years and up

Tour Duration

3 Hours

Frequency

Daily Tours

Departures - Covered

Daily at 1pm, contact for additional departures

Level of Difficulty

Easy, suitable for all ages

Availability

June 1st - September 30th

Departures - Zodiac

N/A

Tour Information

Join Orca Spirit for an unhurried adventure along the glacier-carved shoreline of the Juan de Fuca Strait, BC. In addition to whale and wildlife watching, we’ll cruise by the Lighthouse at Carmanah, Sea Lion Rock, Hole in the Wall and the West Coast & Juan de Fuca Trails.

Keep your eyes peeled for telltale blows off in the distance and black bears, deer, bald eagles and other wildlife playing hide and seek in the majestic old growth forests nearby. Routes may vary depending on whale sightings and weather. When whale sighting reports come in, we typically alter course towards whales within range of the boat. Round trip distance is usually 50 to 80 km.

How old do you have to be to go on a tour?

Our covered vessel tours welcome people of all ages, but the zodiacs are restricted to those that are 6 years old and above.

Can you pick me up from my hotel?

Yes! Orca Spirit Adventures offers a courtesy shuttle service for all guests. We’ll pick you up at your downtown Victoria hotel—and when your whale watching adventure is over, we’ll drop you back at the hotel, or if you prefer, anywhere in the Victoria city core.

How far in advance of my tour does the shuttle arrive?

The day before your tour we prepare our shuttle schedule and will contact you directly to provide you with a time frame in which the shuttle will get you from your hotel. Pickups are anywhere from and hour and half to thirty minutes before the schedule tour departure time depending on the hotel location.

Is there parking near the departure dock?

Wharf Street Departures

Yes, there are pay parking lots at this office as well as street parking.

Coast Hotel & Marina by APA Departures

There is a parking lot at the corner of the Quebec Street and Montreal Street about a half block from our office. As well, there is another lot at the corner of Kingston Street and Menzie Street.

What is the boat ride like?

Exciting and sometimes quite adventurous. Depending on the weather and conditions on the water, the experience can be wild and wet, smooth and dry, or any combination of the two. A typical zodiac trip experiences more ocean spray, and passengers can be splashed at some point along the route. Morning tours and those on covered vessels are usually the calmest.

What is the best time of year to see whales?

While it is possible to see whales at any time of the year, there is a peak season from May through October. During this peak season our sighting success rate is at 95-98% for viewing resident Orca pods near Victoria. In addition to Orcas, see the other wildlife that we view in the Victoria area.

Will we really see whales?

Southern Vancouver Island is the best place to see whales in the wild! There is a chance of seeing a number of different species of whales including resident and transient orcas, humpback whales, Minke whales, and gray whales in addition to other wildlife including but not limited to seals, sea lions, bald eagles, cormorants, and the Race Rocks Lighthouse resident sea otter – Ollie! All of this being said, these are wild animals that we are viewing and so there is the chance of them being a little more elusive some days, which is why we offer our Whale Guarantee. In the event of a no-whale trip, you are invited back with us for a complimentary tour. No rush, this is a life-time guarantee as we want to bring all of our guests’ whale watching dreams to life.

Where do I board the boat?

Depending on which tour you’re on, boarding will take place at one of our two locations. You’ll be notified in advance of the departure location at either:

  • Our private dock, approximately 70 yards from the Orca Spirit Adventures office in the Coast Victoria Hotel & Marina by APA, at 146 Kingston Street in Victoria, BC
  • At the Harbour Air Seaplane terminal at 950 Wharf Street in Victoria, BC
  • Wild Renfrew Guest Services at 17310 Parkinson Road, Port Renfrew BC

What should I wear?

During the summer (June through August), light summer tops and pants or shorts are fine, but it’s a good idea to bring layers such as a fleece jacket or sweater. It is surprisingly cool traveling quickly over the ocean. On cool days, evening trips and during the spring (April – May) and fall (September – October), long pants, sweaters, snug fitting hats and warm footwear is recommended.

Can I bring a camera?

Yes! If you are joining us on a zodiac tour, we recommend talking to captain before your tour as he may recommend that you put it in the dry storage beneath your seat depending on the wind, weather, and sea conditions on the day of tour. Onboard covered vessel tours, if we experience inclement weather you can leave it in the heated indoor cabin, protected from the elements.

Are there bathrooms on the boat?

There is a bathroom onboard all covered vessel tours.

Are there snacks and beverages available for purchase on board?

Snacks and pop available for purchase for $2 on board during covered vessel tours.

What is your cancellation policy?

24 hour cancellation policy

  • Guests must check in at least 30 minutes prior to departure time at their specific check in location
  • Passenger boarding begins 15 minutes prior to departure time
  • Tour departures and packages can be subject to time change and are weather dependent.
  • The Zodiac is not recommended for those with neck or back injuries, expectant mothers, or children under the age of 6
  • Cancellation Policy for all tours and packages: 24 hours
  • Disclaimer: Tour departures and packages can be subject to time change and are weather dependent

What's Included
  • 3 hour, 100% carbon neutral whale watching tour
  • Full length cruiser suits (XS to XXL) for protection from ocean spray and cool air (Zodiac tours only)
  • A hydrophone (underwater microphone) for listening to whales
  • Certified Marine Naturalist/Biologist on board each tour
  • Wildlife identification kits
  • $2 donation towards restoration of the salmon in the Salish Sea
  • A safe and comfortable experience backed by our perfect safety record

*NOTE: Zodiac is not recommended for those with neck or back injuries, expectant mothers, or children under the age of 6

What to Bring

Sunglasses, camera, tight fitting hat, sunscreen and a sense of adventure!

What Might You See
Tour Rates
Adults 15+ $149
Children 6-14 $99

Tour Map

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Responsible Whale Watching

We believe that it’s possible to provide an educational experience to guests while respecting the whale’s natural habitat. Orca Spirit has always taken special care to practice respectful whale watching by following strict guidelines around vessel speed, viewing distance, and radio and engine usage.

Full Guidelines

  • Maintain a distance of 200 meters from killer whales and 100 meters from all other whales in Canadian and US waters
  • Operate at no more than 7 knots when within 1 km (0.65 mile) of a whale
  • Travel at the same or slower speed as the whale’s speed, and travel parallel to the direction whales are traveling
  • Limit time in the vicinity of a particular group of whales to 60 minutes
  • Respect marine protected areas by adhering to Go Slow Zones and minimum distance guidelines around rocks, landmasses, historic sites and wildlife
  • Turn off sonar, depth sounders, fish finders and other underwater transducers when in the vicinity of whales
  • Get closer without disturbing marine life by using a camera with a zoom lens

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