We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Which Tofino hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Birmingham, United...
8 posts
1 review
Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Hi All,

We're staying in Tofino for 4 days in mid June and are planning on taking a whale watching tour. I just wanted to check whether there was much difference in the tours going out of Tofino compared to those from Ucluelet? Given that they are only half an hours drive away, do they essentially cover the same area?

I only ask as from looking at a few of the tour companies in Ucluelet they seem to suggest you may also see a more varied selection of other wildlife as part of the trip. Is that the case or am I just falling for the sales pitch?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
45,116 posts
54 reviews
1. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Hi mikehutchy ~

The whale watching companies head out to the same waters, it doesn't matter. On the following webpage you will see a good explanation of the whale types and when they show up. You might very well see Sea Lions, porpoises, bald eagles, marine birds with whichever tour you take . There's a great aquarium in Ucluelet and inter tidal creatures on the beach.


Birmingham, United...
8 posts
1 review
2. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Thanks for the quick response! I thought that would be the case, just wanted to check we wouldn't be missing out on anything. Jamie's seem to be recommended a lot and has good reviews, so I think we'll book to go with them from Tofino.

Thanks again for your help!

Level Contributor
159 posts
3. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Both communities offer Whale watching trips. Some unique options can be had with either town. For example, Jamies does tours out of BOTH Ucluelet and Tofino, however in Tofino they also offer a Hot Springs tour and a flight seeing tour. The hot springs tour is not a whale watching trip (although you may see some), but a neat option never the less. In Ucluelet, some companies offer tours featuring whale and wildlife watching in the Broken Group Islands, which one of the 3 units of Pacific Rim National Park (Long Beach unit is between Ucluelet and Tofino, Broken Group Islands is boat access only located betweeen Ucluelet and Tofino and the West Coast Trail, which is not accessible from either Tofino or Ucluelet). There is also a more luxury option available through Archipelago Cruises in Ucluelet (they do go to the Broken Group). Keep in mind that Ucluelet and Tofino are only 1/2 hour drive apart and one must drive through Long Beach to get from one town to the other. The wildlife will be the same, but the scenery is someone different. ALL the tour operators here on the West Coast are professional and very good at what they do. Pick a trip that meets your expections for length of time, price range and scenery and you will be happy, whichever town you choose. None of the companies advertise that you will see different wildlife than the other - they are all touring the same ocean. Some will also try to incorporate bear watching with their packages, as well. Since you are viewing wildlife, no one can guarantee a sighting. Jamies will offer to take you again, if you don't see a whale, for free (their guarantee). Hope this helps.

2 posts
4. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Either is great. But it is a must to drive to Ucluelet to go see the Aquarium. It's a catch and release aquarium, catching new things every spring and letting them go in the fall.

The naturalists in the aquarium wander around and can tell you way more than reading a sign ever can.

Birmingham, United...
8 posts
1 review
5. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Thanks for your advice. We'll definitely be spending some time in Ucluelet whilst we're there, so we'll make sure we get to the Aquarium if we can.

Just to check, does the same apply with the Bear tours. Is it a pretty similar experience from both Tofino and Ucluelet, or would you favour one over the other (either based on the amount of sightings or a preference for the scenery etc). If we're doing a whale and a bear tour on different days we may consider taking one out of Tofino and one out of Ucluelet just for some variety.

Thanks again!

Level Contributor
159 posts
6. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

Bears are down at certain beaches at low tide. (no guarantee here, but it is common). The bear watching guides know this. If you are coming in the fall, bears can also be seen at the Thornton Creek Hatchery just outside of Ucluelet. We do advise, if viewing bears at the hatchery or at the side of the road, the worst thing people can do is get near them and habituate the bears to human presence. Once they become comfortable with our presence, they become comfortable to come into the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet and then they get into dumpsters (which should be locked) and food left out on porches and campsites (food that should have been secured). Unfortunately, we lose quite a few bears each year because people are careless with their attitude. Either town will offer whale or bear watching tours. Subtidal Adventures in Ucluelet offers an "Islands, Bears and Whales" trip for $95 per person. This trip aims to view bears AND whales AND the Broken Group Islands in one trip. It's an excellent tour. See www.subtidaladventures.com. You can take a zodiac or a regular boat - your choice.

Ucluelet is also home to the Wild Pacific Trail - see www.wildpacifictrail.com.

Enjoy your trip.

7. Re: Whale Watching Tofino vs Ucluelet

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 1:17 am, May 21, 2014