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“Mike & Jane UK”

The Whale Centre & Museum
Ranked #1 of 4 Museums in Tofino
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Open year round with very competitive pricing. The Whale Centre invites you to join us for an exciting sea adventure in pristine coastal ecosystems! Celebrating over 30 years of operation on the west coast of Vancouver Island, The Whale Centre continues to venture out into Clayoquot Sound, off the coast of Tofino, BC, taking passengers on Whale Watching Tours, Bear Watching Tours, Hot Springs Soak Tours, Bird Watching Tours, Pelagic Birding Expeditions and water taxis to Meares Island on open and covered vessels. We specialize in the natural history and marine wildlife of the Clayoquot Sound area. Located in the heart of town in Tofino, we offer free parking, complimentary dogsitting and a gift shop complete with a full gray whale skeleton! The Whale Centre is a member of the Pacific Rim Association of Tour Operators. We support and abide by the guidelines for responsible whale watching and safety. A portion of proceeds supports local wildlife research and marine wildlife rescue programs.
Reviewed October 1, 2013

I have and always will be a sceptic when it comes to wildlife tours, Jane is not so off we went to the whale centre . After going through the details and pricing we decided to have look around then went back to the whale centre and booked a bear watch in the morning with a whale watching in the afternoon. Arrived the following morning and although it was really clear day we dressed warmly, everyone was supplied with a suit which fitted over your clothes which afforded buoyancy and warmth . The boat is open topped which gives you the feeling of actually being part of the surroundings . Off we go and after the initial introductions we set off at speed to find some bears, on the way we see a Bald Eagle perched on a rock then hit a large bank of mist . You cannot see more than 20ft in front but the boat hasn't slowed down ,quite exhilarating, good job John knows what he's doing . Out of the mist and everyone starts looking for the bears , the bears come down to the shore moving rocks to get the crabs , how I know this becauseJohn is continually explaining what is going on around us and is more than happy when answering questions. First thing we spot are some seals sitting on a rock then as we slowly cruise into a small bay we get our first sight of a Black Bear, John brings the boat slowly towards the shore ,turns off the engine and coasts to within ten feet of the bear, incredible. All you can hear is the clicking of cameras,but the bear just glances up then carries on looking for food. All in all there are three bears and we spend about an hour taking photos and listening to John explain what when and why the bears are doing what there doing . Time to move on we head out again at speed to another bay, half way there a sea lion comes right out of the water with a fish in its mouth, shakes its head and tears it in two then repeats it three times ,more pickies. We now headed back big smiles on our faces at this point we took time to take in the fantastic scenery from a different view point being on the water. Bear watch over just enough time in Tofino to grab lunch the back to the centre to grab our suits and back on the water. Old hands at this now we go for the front seats, if you can try to get them great, it doesn't affect the viewing but what a ride when going out to sea . first stop colony of sea lions they are very funny and give great entertainment to all,20 minutes later its full speed out too sea,25 minutes later we are amongst a pod of Rissos dolphins, cute but made even cuter by the pups or calves they have with them. John was surprised that they stuck around as normally the shoot off .....but by this time I had come to the conclusion that the wildlife on this trip had come from everywhere just to see us. We were now past the allotted time for our tour so with reluctance we headed back (later found out John was supposed to meet his wife, he was late ,sorta get the feeling this might of happened once or twice before).It was I know a little selfish after all we had seen that day but not seeing a whale was a little disappointing .......still we have the rollercoaster ride back on the boat. Suddenly the boat slows then stops ,John explains one of the other boats has seen a humpback in the area so we will give it five minutes just in case, then 300 metres ahead two spurts of water its them, unbelievable, as we drifted , about 200 metres ahead the humpback breached it breached!! It did this three times, John explained it was with a calf and was letting us know they were there.
All in all the Whale Centre blew away my scepticism, the cost is what it is..... the experience is unmissable . John and his team are very professional ........THANKYOU

2  Thank Jane S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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133 - 137 of 221 reviews

Reviewed September 19, 2013

+ Utilising local fisherman captains with local knowledge and giving them a financial incentive for supporting conservation in the area
+ Saw 8 bears
+ We had the faster boat than the competition!

1  Thank Andrew H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2013

Inside the whale watching centre there is a big board where they list out all the tours available. Below the whale watching tour description there is a quote that says: 'whale sighting is guaranteed on every trip'. This is missleading advertising.

Of course we did not see any whales on the tour, which we understand that might happen, and the lady at the front desk confirmed then that it was never guaranteed that you will see whales on every tour, the guarantee was that if you did not see whales, you could join to another tour any other day and try it again (if they have space available in the boat as the new customers are a priority for theming even then, the whale watching is not guaranteed).

When we showed our disagreement with what was being advertised on the white board, she said the only issue is that we did not understand the meaning of the word 'guarantee'
Guarantee meaning: (Business / Commerce) a formal assurance, esp in writing, that a product, service, etc., will meet certain standards or specifications.

The guarantee advertised in writing at the centre for this tour is that you will see whales on every tour, not the one she explained later where you could try it again in another tour. Those two guarantees are completely different and in any case the watching is guaranteed, the advertising should quote the real guarantee and so this is missleading advertising.

The lady was extremely rude with us and was dishonest with the possibilities of watching whales. Being the last tour of the day she probably knew at that point we were not going to see whales but still sold all the seats of the boat an extremely high price.
We do not recommend to book your tours with them, there are other companies such as Jamie's Whale Watching where their people, at least, will treat you better.

Thank MeryMad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TofinoWhales, Owner at The Whale Centre & Museum, responded to this reviewResponded September 28, 2013

Dear MeryMad,

Thank you for providing us with feedback from your recent whale watching excursion with us. We strive to provide our guests with the best wildlife viewing experience in Tofino and were disappointed to learn that we did not meet your expectations.

We have had a very successful whale watching season with a 98% success rate in viewing whales on our tours. We do offer a guarantee to our guests that you will see whales on our tours. Unfortunately we experience a very small number of days where the weather or wildlife do not cooperate and we are not able to spot whales. In this rare situation we offer rain cheques to our guests to partake in another tour, as is the industry standard in Tofino. We would have been happy to reserve space for you on another tour for a second chance to see the whales we have in the area.

We apologize if you feel as though you were mislead as that was certainly not our intention. Both our morning and early afternoon trips on the day of your tour were able to see whales and we had high hopes that this would be the case for your tour as well. We pride ourselves on being very honest with our guests about the possibilities for wildlife viewing each day and consistently have guests return to us who are thrilled about the wide variety of wildlife that they were able to see. There is not a better time of day to view whales and each tour is different. We never know if it will be our morning or evening tours which will offer the best chances to view whales. We are also proud to offer our tours at the lowest rates inTofino in order to provide a fair value to visitors of the area.

We would be happy to discuss this with you further should you wish. You can reach us by phone at 250-725-2132 or by email at whales@island.net.


John Forder

Owner, The Whale Centre

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2013

We went on two tours: whale and bear and they were both extraordinary.

Howie (born and raised in Tofino) took us out to the ocean and kept placing us where the hunpbacks showed. We had great pictures and at one time felt like we could almost touch a whale; that's how close we came. In addition to that we saw two groups of (different species of) seals and a colony of seaotters. Although the weather was fine, out on the ocean doing what felt like 100 miles per hour in an open boat is not to warm. Luckily the provided survival gear in the form of a sort of coverall kept us warn enough.

In the afternoon Howie's dad took us between the islands behind the shoreline. And boy does he know where to go! We saw first a lonely black bear and 10 minutes later a mother and cub. After that we came to a spot where there were three! Black bears within 600 yards of each other. Joe also showed us a seal colony.

We felt this to be the best dollars spent on our trip and recommend you to try it to. The trip out to Tofino on Vancouver Island will cost you at least a day travelling in and a day travelling out but it is well worth it. If you go: say hi to Howie and Joe for us.

Yes: not cheap but I would pay it any day as it is excellent value for money.

Thank Gert M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 6, 2013

My wife and I did the 2.5 hour afternoon Black bear trip. Boat is not a Zodiac, but never the less is fast. We sat right at the front of the boat, which was great and recommended. We saw 2 bears on the beach, but were about 50 metre away, so don't expect to get close to them. Other people may have got closer on other trips. If I hadn't had my long lens any pictures would have been too distant for decent photos. The guy that took us wasn't inspiring or informative at all. It was basically a good boat ride during which you may see bears.

Thank Pedalpower H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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