Saddle up for an adventure. The whale watching zodiac tours at Prince of Whales are one part thrill and two parts beauty.

With a low profile and twin, two-hundred horsepower Mercury engines, these vessels expertly maneuver over ocean waves and around islands.

Tours depart from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and cruise the surrounding waterways. Captains are intimately familiar with the local wildlife – especially the orcas. Don’t be surprised if the boat stops – in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca – because the captain has spotted a transient orca on the hunt.

Each stop comes with a bit of wisdom. You’ll learn tidbits about local lore, transient orcas, resident pods, and habitat protection. Captains will share insider tips about identifying marks and how they’re used like fingerprints to track individual orcas. 

You might see a group of residents just off the San Juan Island coast. The resident pods are fish eaters. They like to use the deep sea cliffs near the Lim Kiln Lighthouse to herd salmon.

Your boat could stop hundreds of miles from a male orca, only to have him dive and seemingly disappearing before his massive dorsal fin breaks through the water’s surface just feet from your boat.  

This is up close and personal whale watching. It’s a suit up and hold on adventure ride. You’re not going to bask leisurely in the sun on one of these tours. (But if that’s your thing, they have a tour that will fit the bill.)

Those looking for the biggest thrill will want to sit up front. And, if you’re carrying anything with you, make sure to hold onto it tightly while the boat is moving. It’s not uncommon for the captain to change direction rather abruptly.

Tours last a minimum of three hours. Beyond spotting orcas and the occasional humpback whale, they offer stunning views of the Victoria coastline and a variety of marine wildlife. You’ll see shorebirds and seals. You might even spot a sea otter or dolphin.

Each passenger is equipped with a ‘Mustang Survival’ suit. Not only are these bright red babies flotation devices – they keep you warm. Because even if it’s sunny and hot in the city, it can be chilly out on the water.

 

Insider Tip: Tour departures are located just a one-minute walk from the Victoria Inner Harbour Terminal. If you’re looking to grab a bite nearby, both Flying Otter Grill and Red Fish Blue Fish offer exceptional seafood inspired menus.