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Recommended experiences in and around Nanaimo
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Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

We can highly recommend this whale watching tour! We‘ve done the open boat one and it was an amazing experience:) great team, the naturalist was so nice and we would join them anytime again!

Date of experience: September 2019
Thank Jana13009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Islan... C, Marine Naturalist at Vancouver Island Whale Watch, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Hi Jana, Thank you for the 5-star review! Sounds like you had a great trip out with us, hopefully we will have you on a tour again soon!

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Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

I went with my husband and father during our vacation, and we had an amazing experience. We saw hump back whales within 20 mins of our departure. The guide was very knowledgeable and and some very interesting facts to share with us.
Would definitely recommend them

Date of experience: September 2019
Thank Amber Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Islan... C, Marine Naturalist at Vancouver Island Whale Watch, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Hi Amber, thank you for leaving us a review! Sounds like you had a great trip and didn't have to go too far from Nanaimo to spot the whales! Getting to watch these beautiful animals in their natural habitat while learning a bit more about them is an experience we love providing. Thanks again for the recommendation!

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Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Despite rainy conditions, the tour was an exciting adventure. No Orcas to be seen this trip but a cow/calf Humpback whale pair, Sea Lions, Osprey. We appreciated being able to observe for as long as time would allow. Our guide and the boat captain were very knowledgable & while we consider ourselves nature lovers we learned a lot more than we expected.

Date of experience: September 2019
Thank D C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Islan... C, Marine Naturalist at Vancouver Island Whale Watch, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Thank you for your review! It sounds like you got to experience the "humpback comeback"! We always love seeing the mother calf pairs travelling together in our area since it really means that the population is increasing. All the other wildlife along the way also adds a lot to the experience, especially getting to see an osprey! We pride ourselves on having a tour led by a marine scientist since they have so much information that they love sharing with our guests. it's great to hear you enjoyed that aspect of the trip as well! Thanks again for the great review!

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Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Fantastic trip! Very knowledgable staff. Saw two pods orcas, the blow from a humpback whale, seals and sessions. Highly recommend this company.

Date of experience: September 2019
Thank Kirsty C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Islan... C, Marine Naturalist at Vancouver Island Whale Watch, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Hi Kristy, thank you for the 5-star review! It sounds like you had a great trip and got to see a ton of wildlife! Hopefully we can have you out with us again some day!

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Reviewed 3 weeks ago

We were a little skeptical at the outset. It was raining quite hard and while we were warmly dressed in the cozy suits provided, the trip didn’t seem like it was going to match a glorious orca watching trip we’d done from Victoria a few years ago and were hoping to replicate. Things were pleasant enough at first, with an eagle’s nest and seals to see and good information shared by our naturalist, but it soon became apparent that we were going to be making a very long journey to see the sought after whales.

This tour company is the only one operating out of Nanaimo. What that means practically - since the reputable whale watching tour operators share whale sitings with each other - is that most sitings will be from the Victoria-based operators with whom they collaborate. That’s how it transpired on this day. There weren’t any reports of orcas and so as to give our tour a successful trip, we ended up heading a very long way south chasing reports of a couple of humpbacks. South of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal!

I’ve forgotten how long this took - well over an hour - at high speed on a zodiac with rain lashing us almost the whole way. We were provided with goggles and it was possible to pull the drawstring close enough around the goggles to avoid the stinging on exposed skin. But the roar of the wind, flapping suit bits, driving rain, pounding waves, engine roar, etc did not make for a pleasant journey. Over an hour into this long run I was just wishing for it to be over. I’ve seen humpbacks on other whale watch trips and I kept thinking that seeing a couple of humpbacks was not worth this trip.

Fortunes turned, however. The humpbacks didn’t ever materialize but by the time we were learning this, there had also been reports of an orca pod in the vicinity. And the rain let up. So we headed back up a little ways north and did indeed encounter a pod near one of the Pender Islands. We spent a long time enjoying this little family. The naturalists on the various tour boats (about half a dozen after a while) all had a catalog of fluke and dorsal fin photos and were able to identify the pod by its members. It was great to see all of the information in the catalog and learn about the family history of the pod from the naturalist on our boat.

The trip back up to Nanaimo was more enjoyable under clearing skies and we made a nice stop to see nesting cormorants on cliffs on Gabriola Island. Our captain and naturalist were both excellent and did what they could to make us comfortable. The boat was marvelous when you think how far we travelled. And I have fond memories of the orcas we saw and those will be the lasting memories for me. That part is definitely 5 star.

But consider my description of the long ride and inclement conditions to reach our objective as you contemplate whether an open boat tour is right for you. We’ve had great experiences on zodiacs elsewhere, but not for such distances in the rain.

Date of experience: July 2019
Thank DtripperJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Islan... C, Manager at Vancouver Island Whale Watch, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

Thank you for taking the time to review us and I'm happy to hear you enjoyed your day out on the water!

As you mentioned, we are part of the PWWA, an organization of whale watching companies that work cooperatively to find whales in our area. There are some companies based out of the Victoria, but also a lot of companies based further north out of the Gulf Islands and Vancouver who we tend to work more closely with. We've seen whales on over 90% of our tours and like you mentioned, some days we have to travel further than others. It is not uncommon for any whale watching company to have to travel an hour to get to where whales have been located (especially since killer whales can travel up to 100km in a day!) and I'm sorry if the rain made that uncomfortable for you. We try to keep our guests warm and dry with the anti-exposure suits and goggles, and recommend that guests bring warm clothing, but some days Mother Nature makes that a little more difficult!

Humpback whales were hunted to the brink of extinction in the North Pacific and we are now experiencing a "humpback comeback" in our local waters. We couldn't be more thrilled to witness the return of these gentle giants to our seas and to have a local environmental success story!

I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed having a marine naturalist onboard to share information with you and answer any questions. All of our staff care so much about these animals and love getting to share their passions with guests from all over the world.

Thanks again for joining us!

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