Port Renfrew Whale Watching
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.
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.
17293 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew
6 years and up
Departures - Covered
Level of Difficulty
Easy, suitable for all ages
June 1st - September 15th
Departures - Zodiac
9am & 2pm
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.
Looking for a place to stay while you’re visiting Port Renfrew? Check out our package deal with Wild Renfrew and book a seaside cottage for the weekend!
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?
No, we do not offer shuttle pick up for Port Renfrew tour departures.
Is there parking near the departure dock?
Yes, there is parking near the Renfrew Pub with additional options just beyond the entrance to the parking lot.
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?
There is a chance of seeing humpback whales and resident and transient orcas, in addition to other wildlife including but not limited to seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and cormorants. 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.
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
- 3.5 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)
- Certified Marine Naturalist/Biologist on board each tour
- Wildlife identification kits
- $4 Wildlife Conservation Fee that contributes to the 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
“We had the most amazing day on the water. We went out with Greg who was great. He was fun, knowledgeable and informative. We were on the fast Zodiac boat and it was such fun. We were fortunate enough to see Orcas, a humpback whale, seals and sealions. This was the best way to spend half a day ever.”
Lisa S, UK
“This experience was definitely on my bucket list and it did not disappoint. We went with Captain Mick on a zodiac boat. He was very educative and funny. We were lucky enough to spot a mom Humpback whale and her calf and 2 orca families. Next to that we saw seals. The zodiac experience made it so much more fun!”
Wieke00, The Netherlands
“Superlatives galore! No doubt aided by the most fabulous weather and a calm sea, today my family and I had an unforgettable day out sighting Orca, Seal, Sealion and Humpback with Greg and his crew. Beautiful scenery and the crew’s humour and local natural history knowledge really enhanced our experience.”
Top Rated Packages
After a morning on the water, we shuttle over to the tropical Butterfly Gardens, and beautifully manicured grounds at Butchart Gardens.
Cruise over snow-capped mountains in a seaplane from Vancouver, then join a 3 hour tour on one of our luxurious covered vessels or open air zodiacs.
Bundle your accommodation with a 3.5 hour exhilarating zodiac whale watching tour in a location where it is just you, the open Pacific Ocean and its abundance of marine wildlife.
Leaders in responsible Eco-Tourism