Whale Watching In Tofino

“There are some humpies about a mile out,” were the words blaring out from the radio being held by our guide as he navigated the small high-speed cruiser in the choppy waters of the Pacific Ocean.

I was on a whale watching tour in Tofino, a gem on the western coast of Canada, with the award-winning Ocean Outfitters.

Besides surfing, biking and bear watching, whale watching is up there as one of the most popular activities to enjoy in this beyond beautiful part of the world.

And sightings of whales, along with other wildlife, are guaranteed between March and October.

Beginning in calm waters, it is not long before the boat is heading out at full speed towards the open ocean, where some humpback whales have been spotted.

The weather is grey and gloomy, but it is still picturesque.

Before reaching the sea, the scene is calm and peaceful, with tree-covered islands and mountains providing breathtaking views.

We suddenly slow down to have a look at an eagle’s nest on the waterside and some kayakers can be seen paddling away near the rocks.

When we reach the ocean, it becomes considerably more choppy and a humpback whale is soon spotted in the distance. I dive to the back of the boat to try to capture a picture.

It is too far away for my camera, but everybody gasps with excitement when some water can be seen shooting up in the air. Then I saw it elegantly jump up from the water in such a fast formation that is re-entered almost as quickly as it had appeared.

This first sighting gets everybody excited, eagerly anticipating when and where the whale would resurface.

There are a few more water spurts and distant flashes of fins, but before long we are on the trail for the next spot – a pod of orcas.

“Orcas, or killer whales, are not actually technically whales, they are more like big dolphins,” explained our guide.

Credit: Ocean Outfitters

I spot two of them jump up at the same time – a flash of black and white.

Then as everybody’s cameras were clicking away, I feel my stomach churn.

Why didn’t I pick up those sea sickness pills from the pharmacy this morning as planned?

Unfortunately I was ill for the rest of the journey. But, as somebody who is susceptible to sea sickness, I should have dosed myself up beforehand. It had been a hectic morning and I had grown complacent.

There are several more orca sightings and the others aboard seem to behaving loads of fun.

We also visit some rocks to view sea lions and I manage to pull my head up for enough time to have a glance at them.

Then I hear some words from the guide that, in my state, are music to my ears: “We’re now heading for calm waters.”

This was a fantastic tour that featured many whale sightings. I just wish I had prepared more for the possibility of the dreaded sea sickness striking.

Thank you very much to Ocean Outfitters for sponsoring my trip. All views are my own.


  1. garykeet
    July 27, 2012 / 17:14

    Lovely post Alison. Tofino is truly a magical gem on the Pacific Rim and you’ve captured it beautifully with your words and pictures. So sorry for the seasickness! Bad timing for sure. Perhaps you should give kayaking a go. Clayoquot Sound is beautiful at that pace. Over to Meares Island, you can get out and explore Big Tree Trail.

  2. July 29, 2012 / 20:03

    Nice post. There are also some whale sightings over here in the Baja peninsula but I’ve never been to any of them. Sorry you felt bad. I feel your pain. I even get carsick.

  3. July 30, 2012 / 02:09

    How super fun, excpet for the queasy part. Sorry.

  4. August 3, 2012 / 20:05

    That is pretty cool even to see what you got to see. It sucks when we know what we have to do to keep ourselves healthy and ok and skip it for one reason or another. I have real issues with flying and not sure where I would be without the little pills i got from the doctor.

    That one pic of the orca from the boat place is really amazing. Cool that they were able to see such a variety of stuff on the tour even if you had to be head’s down part of the time.

  5. August 8, 2012 / 11:27

    What a shame you got ill. I’m not good with sea sickness either. I bet it would be amazing to spot whales in calm waters!
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    • August 8, 2012 / 15:57

      Hi Andrea, yep it’s great when its calm. I got to see belugas in Churchill last week and it was calm so no problems. Although took sea sickness pills this time.