Whale Watching in Richmond, BC
Whale watching in BC is an extraordinary experience. There is something magical about seeing whales roam the waters of the wild.
Orcas (sometimes referred to as killer whales) are often the main attraction, but depending on the time of year, many species pass through local waters including humpback whales, gray whales, and minke whales. The area is best known for the "Orcas of the Salish Sea"- three pods (families) of resident Orcas that live and play in the waters off the coasts of British Columbia and Washington State.
Whale watching tours set off from the historic village of Steveston, in Richmond, BC. They are offered from April to October, when whales are migrating through the waters just off of British Columbia's coastline.
Richmond's tour operators utilize state-of-the-art boats that are Coast Guard certified and even include washroom facilities. Professional guides and naturalists are on board each trip to provide passengers with knowledge about local marine life and ecosystems, and hydrophones are used to hear the whales vocalizing.
Expeditions often head through the Strait of Georgia towards the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands. Tour operators maintain a distance of 100 yards (approximately 100 metres) from the whales, according to guidelines established by the Pacific Whale Watch Association, giving you excellent views while also respecting the wild habitat of the whales. Be sure to bring along a camera because there can be some fantastic photo opportunities!
Sea Lions, Eagles, and More
Whales aren't the only wildlife you'll have a chance to spot while out on a whale watching tour. Keep an eye out for sea lions, seals, porpoises, otters, eagles and other birds.
Every year, thousands of male sea lions migrate to BC waters from California. They are called the "California Bachelors" and they hang out at the Steveston jetty from March through May before heading home. Along with whale watching tours, both Steveston Seabreeze Adventures and Vancouver Whale Watch offer sea lion tours from April to approximately mid-May.
Did You Know?
- Many Richmond whale watching tour operators offer an unbeatable guarantee: although there is a 90% whale sighting success rate, if whales are not spotted you will be offered a return pass for free.
- If you're staying in Vancouver, it's just a 40-minute drive to Steveston! Be sure to ask about shuttles from downtown Vancouver (and Richmond, too).
- Granny, also known as J2, is a resident orca estimated by some whale researchers to be over 100 years old!