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 BC?

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 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 Trip Advisor. West Coast Aquatic Safaris has a +4.5 rating on both platforms.

Is the 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.

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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 gets people with mobility challenges out on the water safely and in comfort.

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?

Our boats are custom built for the waters around Tofino and to maximize your whale watching experience. All or 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 tours?

Whale Watch – 2.5 hours

Bear Watch – 2 hours

Hot Springs Cove – 6 hours

Hot Springs with Fly Back – 5 hours

Cultural Tour – 2.5 hours

Will we get wet on the whale watching tour?

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

Is there a bathroom on the 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 – 36 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 neat 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

How long so we stay at the hot springs? Due to Covid19 for Summer 2020 hot springs tours are not available.


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.


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Can you socially distance on a whale tour?

Yes, as our vessels have more seats than people, social distancing is possible.

Should we wear masks on our whale tour?

Non-medical mask wearing recommended for all guests and masks available for those who did not bring one.

How are the boat and other surfaces cleaned between boat tours?

West Coast Aquatic Safaris have new health and safety protocols in place for our staff and guests, some of these include:
  • We have increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting washrooms both in the office and on vessels. Also ensuring that soap dispensers are filled up.
  • Hand sanitizer station at designated at separate one-way entry and exit doors.
  • Hand sanitizer on vessels and inside onboard restrooms.
  • Encouragement of physical distancing while onboard – we are fortunate that our vessels have ample outdoor viewing decks and space to allow for physical distancing between parties.

Will you be testing guests for Covid-19?

Yes. Prior to boarding all guests must verbally confirm no symptoms related to COVID-19 and receive a non-touch forehead temperature check.

Do you test your staff for Covid19?

Yes. Upon commencing a shift, each staff member must verbally confirm no symptoms related to COVID-19 and receive a non-touch forehead temperature check. West Coast Aquatic Safaris continue to monitor staff for signs of COVID-19.

If this page did not answer your question please contact Keith [email protected]