Why People Choose Us…
- 90 – 95% success rate during peak season (May – October)
- Our office is centrally located at the head of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, directly below Tourism Victoria, and our boats depart from right outside our front doors
- We are at the heart of the shopping and attractions area of downtown and an easy walking distance from most hotels in Victoria
- Two purpose built OCEAN MAGIC class vessels with environmentally friendly propeller system designed to minimize noise pollution and maximize hydrodynamics
- Washrooms on the Ocean Magic style vessels
- Ten ZODIAC-STYLE boats (also known as “Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats” or “RHIBs”; this style of vessel is used by the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, being the highest standard for sea-worthiness and safety)
- Expert wildlife guides: our staff can boast a PhD in Zoology, a PhD in Geochemistry, two Masters in Sciences, one Bachelor of Science, and several Biology students working at the Undergraduate level.
- Spotting network: Over 20 years of networking has been forged with residents of the San Juan and Gulf Islands, fishermen, ferry boat captains, seaplane pilots and more to provide a comprehensive coverage of our range and ensure that we have the most up to date information on whale sightings
- Office hours extend from 7am – 11pm in peak season
- British Columbia’s largest fleet of whale touring vessels, so that we can provide an optimally flexible schedule
- On-line secure reservation booking system
- Hydrophones to listen in on whale communication
- World famous reputation (check out our Trip Advisor reviews!)
Do you really see whales?
Yes! Prince of Whales Whale Watching has a success rate of 90 – 95% in the peak season (May – October).
When is the best time of year for watching whales?
Our success rates vary throughout the year. Southern Resident Killer Whales are consistently sighted April through November. Humpbacks sightings have increased steadily over the last 10 years and now we enjoy the opportunity to spot them at almost any time of the year (although the vast majority of sightings occur in August through to December). Gray Whales are occasional visitors throughout the year as they transit seasonally, with a small number that take up residence in our waters. Transient Orcas can be sighted at any time during the year as they come to our waters to hunt marine mammals, particularly seals and sea lions. Most summer days we also know where to find Minke Whales.
Between November and May we spend time looking for Killer Whales, seals, sea lions & porpoises. We have a 50-75% success rate of finding whales in the winter months.
How close will we get to the whales?
There are strict guidelines when it comes to watching whales in Canadian and US waters. We take these regulations very seriously so as not to influence the behaviour of marine mammals in any way. We want to respect the fact that these are wild animals and remain impartial observers. We can get as close as 100m to marine wildlife.
What else will I see on my trip?
In addition to Minke, Humpback and Gray whales, you may see Harbour Seals, Elephant Seals, Dall’s Porpoise, Harbour Porpoise, California Sea Lions, Stellar Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, Common Murres, Rhinocerous Auklets, and Cormorants.
What happens if we don’t see a whale?
At Prince of Whales, our team of dedicated professionals try their hardest to ensure that your experience with us fully exceeds your expectations. However, due to the unpredictable nature of wildlife behaviour, neither we nor any other whale watching company can guarantee 100% that you will see whales on any given tour. In order to give you the best possible value for your money, we are pleased to offer each of our guests a lifetime no whales guarantee.
If you come out with us during our peak season, from early May through the end of October, and do not see whales on your first attempt, we guarantee you a free trip on board one of our larger Ocean Magic vessels – either a pre-booked reservation on a 9:00am or 3:30pm sailing, or a stand-by seat for the 12:15pm sailing. Additionally, if you do not see whales on your second tour, you are free to continue to come back as many times as you like until you see whales! This offer is a lifetime guarantee, but is non-transferable.
To redeem your no whales guarantee, simply take note of the name you made your initial reservation under, the confirmation number, as well as the date and time of your tour. Then call our reservations line (1-888-383-4884) with this information and one of our friendly team members will be able to help you arrange your second departure. Guests must present valid photo identification when checking in.
All of our guests who would like to take advantage of this offer are welcome to do so on either our Victoria or Vancouver-based tours. Vancouver departures are available only on a standby basis and guests may incur additional charges when choosing options that involve a third party.
What should we wear?
Please dress very warmly and wear flat closed-toed shoes (strappy high heels are not ideal for marine travel). We will be travelling at more than 30 miles per hour (55km/h) and temperatures are at least 10 degrees C cooler on the water, so a windbreaker or jacket will help you to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. Zodiac passengers are required to wear our stylish red cruiser suits, which serve the dual purpose of keeping you warm and acting as a life preserver. Cruiser suits are required by Transport Canada to ride aboard the Zodiac. Ocean Magic passengers are encouraged to dress extremely warmly for their tour, but we are happy to lend them cruiser suits if they need them!
Don’t forget sunscreen, sun glasses (even if it’s cloudy, they help keep wind out of your eyes), binoculars, and an extra layer, just in case.
Can I bring my camera?
Yes, bring your camera and/or video camera. We also recommend that you bring a plastic bag to keep your camera safe and dry during transit. The boat will come to a complete stop for photo opportunities. Don’t forget your batteries!
How long are the trips?
We offer many different types of trips of varying lengths. Please see the specific page for individual departure times and lengths.
Can I bring luggage on board?
You may bring luggage on the Ocean Magic crossings between Vancouver and Victoria. Our luggage weight restrictions are the same as you would find on any major airline; one 50lb (~22kg) bag and one carry-on item per guest. For our 3-3.5hr whale watching tours in Victoria, we have a locked storage room in our office where you may leave your bags while out on the water.
Are there bathrooms on the boats?
We have two airline-style washrooms on the Ocean Magic Express Cruiser. The open Zodiac-style boats are equipped with a chemical toilet for emergency purposes only. We recommend that you use the public washrooms (located next to our office) before your departure. If anyone has a concern about washrooms then they should choose to ride in style on the Ocean Magic. It is also wise to avoid drinking a large coffee right before your tour.
Do we need a reservation?
Reservations are definitely recommended so that we can offer you the best departure time to fit your schedule. Trips often sell out and we don’t want you to be disappointed. Also, if you reserve in advance we can alert you to any possible changes in our schedule.
How early should we check in?
Thirty minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.
What is the Prince of Whales cancellation policy?
Cancellation Policy is 24 hours before trip time unless agreed upon in advance with the office staff. All cancellations made after 24 hours or “no-shows” will be subject to the full charge of the fare. We save your seats for you up until the last possible moment, which doesn’t allow us the opportunity to resell it.
Are there snacks or beverages on board?
The Ocean Magic sells packaged snacks and both hot and cold beverages on the boat. You are welcome to bring your own food onboard. There are no snacks or beverages on the zodiac-style boats.