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frequently asked questions

With close to 20 years experience & a reputation as a leader for whale watching in BC, West Coast Aquatic Safaris can answer your questions.

What is the best time of year to see whales in Tofino?

March through November. Tofino starts to see large numbers of whales starting at the beginning of March as over 22,000 Grey Whales flow along the coast line as they migrate north. After the migration feeding Grey Whales stop and feed in the local waters around Tofino throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. On top of that, feeding Humpback Whales and Bigg’s (transient) Killer Whales frequent our waters throughout the year.

Where is the best place for whale watching in BC?

Feeding zones are the best places to see whales in BC.  The Clayoquot Sound / Long Beach (Tofino) is an enormous feeding area that provides some of the most consistent whale watching in BC.

What types of wildlife will I see while whale watching in Tofino?

On our tours we commonly see:

Harbour Seals, Sea Otters, California Sea Lions, Steller Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, Grey Whales, Vancouver Island Black Bear, Humpback Whales, Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales

Will we be able to touch the whales?

You will not be able to touch as per Canadian law.

How close do you get to the whales?

We are required as per Canadian law to maintain at least 100m distance from whales with exception of Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales where we must maintain 200m.

What should I wear for whale watching in BC?

Layer up – Windbreaker / rain jacket as outer layer, closed toed boots or shoes, sun screen, hat, toque (beanie) .

Does West Coast Aquatic Safaris have a Whale Guarantee?

Yes we do! Please see our Booking Policies for more details.

Do you serve lunch on the whale watching tours?

No. We encourage guests to eat after tours. For Hot Springs Tours we suggest that a packed lunch is brought by guests.

Where do you recommend I stay in Tofino?

When it comes to being close to West Coast Aquatic Safaris and great restaurants in Tofino there is no better place to stay than Tofino Harbour House.  



Adventure With Us. Stay With Us.

For a home away from home close to your whale safari meeting place and Tofino’s top restaurants stay at the Tofino Harbour House.

Park your car and enjoy Tofino by foot from this central location. Wake up and turn in to stunning views of Strawberry Island and the Tofino Inlet.

Where can we get breakfast before the tour?

Hotels, Wolf in the Fog, Rhino Coffee

Where can I find the best whale watching reviews for Tofino?

Google reviews or Tripadvisor. West Coast Aquatic Safaris has a 4.5 to 4.8 rating on both platforms.

Is the whale watching tour / boat appropriate for small children?

Yes, people of all ages are welcome to tour aboard. In the past 4 generations of one family have toured with us many times.

whale watching in bc reviews image

Are there accessible ♿ whale watching / boat tours in Tofino, BC?

Yes, West Coast Aquatic Safaris is proud to offer our vessel NANUQ – the only accessible ♿ boat in Tofino. NANUQ gives people with mobility challenges the opportunity to get out on the water for accessible whale and wildlife watching.

What has WCAS implemented to make your tours more accessible?

West Coast Aquatic Safaris has a ramp to provide access to the office. We also have a ramp to load aboard NANUQ, priority accessible parking at the harbour and pre-loading protocol.

What types of boats do you use for your whale watching tours?

Our boats are custom built for the waters around Tofino and to maximize your whale watching experience. All boats have inside seating for all as well as multiple outside viewing decks.

NANUQ our large vessel is a catamaran for stability and fuel efficiency.

What camera equipment is the best for whale watching?

A variety of lens with stability option if possible. Most people have a phone to do selfies and family shots. 

Can I charge my phone on the boat?

No. We highly suggest you pre-charge your phone or bring a battery pack to charge along the way.

What happens if it rains on the whale watching tour?

It is the “wet coast” – so we go out. WCAS provides rain jackets to use while touring and the boat has inside seating for all.

How long are the Tofino wildlife tours?

Whale Watch – 2.5 hours

Bear Watch – 2 hours

Hot Springs Cove – 6 hours

Cultural Tour – 2.5 hours

Will we get wet on the whale watching tour?

There is a small chance that you could get salt water on you while out at sea.

Is there a bathroom on the whale watching tour boat?

Yes, all boats are equipped with a restroom – sink and toilet. However, we encourage guests to use our office restroom prior to departure and/or returning from the tour.

How many people will be on our boat tour?

All vessels have more seats than passengers.

WASCO – 12 passengers with 20 seats onboard

NANUQ – 37 passenger with 52 seats onboard

Can we do a whale watching tour in one day from Nanaimo?

Yes. It takes about 3hrs to travel to Tofino and 3 hours to return. Please note road closures.

What else is there to do in Tofino besides a wildlife tour?

Surf, hike, beach walk, dine, visit our local galleries and shops.

What is there to do in Tofino when it rains?

A whale or bear watching adventure is a great way to spend a rainy day in Tofino. When the weather requires that you pack away your beach towels for the day our warm and dry covered craft are ready to transport you to the wild without getting wet!

Could I get seasick on the tour?

Very unlikely on a Bear Watching tour as we hug the coastline to see bears on the beaches of the various islands near Tofino.

Unlikely on a Whale Watching tour. However, everyone has their own abilities to handle motion sickness. We suggest you take precautions if you are prone to motion sickness, such as non-drowsy ginger pills or Gravol.

How long do we stay at the Tofino hot springs? Due to Covid19 hot springs tours are not available for the moment.

2.5 hrs to 3hrs you visit Maquinna Provincial Park which is where the Hot Springs are located. You do need to hike about 2km to the springs from the dock where the boat moors.


If this page did not answer your question please contact Keith