Planning is key when traveling! If you’re wondering when is the best season to go whale watching on Vancouver Island, please read below. In Campbell River, we’re gifted with an abundant marine wild life and each month is an opportunity to witness different species in their natural habitat. Here’s our month to month guide if you’re planning to come to our beautiful part of the world for an unforgettable whale watching or wild life tour:
January – February
Fair time – Occasional sightings of Transient Orca, Harbour Porpoise and Seals.
This is a great time to see the natural phenomenon of the return of thousands of sea lions to the Hornby Island area as they prepare to feast on the herring that return to spawn around the Comox and Hornby Island area every spring.
Decent time. Gray whale sightings possible.
March is the first month of the Vancouver Island whale watching season and offers chances to see gray whales on their northwards migration. It’s also possible to see killer whales/orcas during March, as well as Harbour Porpoises.
Decent time. Return of the Humpback Whales.
April starts to bring warmer temperatures to Vancouver island waters, which encourage a few early humpback whales to visit. Gray whales can still be seen at this time and the occasional pod of killer whales might also be spotted. Harbour Porpoises remain common sightings.
In May, the weather starts to warm up and killer whales/orcas begin to move closer to shore and can be seen more often. Humpback whales also begin to be sighted regularly, as more individuals arrive from southern latitudes. May is usually the last month when you can spot migrating gray whales and you can see dolphins and porpoises in greater numbers.
June is when summer takes over from spring and the warmer weather can make it more comfortable to be out on the water. Humpbacks and killer whales are the highlights of this month, but you might also be lucky to see Pacific White Sided Dolphins and Dahls Porpoise and Harbour Porpoise. As the hungry bears emerge from a long slumber, we will also often see them in the estuaries feeding on grasses and small marine animals such as clams and eels.
In July, Humpback whales begin to visit the Vancouver Island coastline in greater numbers, and are viewed daily. Both transient and resident killer whales remain are also common sightings on our trips. We will often see the broadest diversity of marine life during the summer months with Harbour Porpoise, Dahls Porpoise, Pacific White sided dolphins, thousands of sea birds, seals, sea lions and much more. This is also a great time to see hundreds of bald eagles in a natural phenomenon we like to call ‘the Eagle Show’.
August can be one of the best months to see killer whales in Vancouver Island waters, as they are attracted to the coast by the prevalence of seal pups. The number of humpback whales also starts to peak, although this can often be one of the busier months of the year onboard tour boats. We will often see the broadest diversity of marine life during the summer months with Harbour Porpoise, Dahls Porpoise, Pacific White sided dolphins, thousands of sea birds, seals, sea lions and much more.
In September, the weather is cooling down and we would say might be the best time to visit Vancouver Island. We will often see the broadest diversity of marine life throughout the late summer with Harbour Porpoise, Dahls Porpoise, Pacific White sided dolphins, thousands of sea birds, seals, sea lions being frequently sighted. The humpback whales remain in large numbers and we will also often spot transient and resident orca throughout the area. September is also the best time to view Grizzly Bears in the rivers feasting on the returning salmon.
October is generally the last month of Vancouver Island’s official whale watching season. Grey whales and humpback whales start to migrate southwards during this time and so October is generally your last opportunity to see these species. Transient Orca whales are also frequent visitors to the area and may be spotted also. As the final salmon stocks make their way into the rivers to spawn, this is also the last opportunity to view bears as they get ready for the long winter hibernation.
Fair time. Some gray whales.
During November, gray whales will be migrating south along the coast and can be frequently seen. Harbour Porpoises and pacific white sided dolphins are seen regularly as are large steller sea lions and of course our resident seals. The weather can be a bit more unpredictable so we recommend a flexible schedule if you are going to visit in the late fall.
Fair: Transient Orca, sea lions.
In December, chances to see whales around Vancouver Island can be limited, although there will occasionally be transient killer whale sightings. Porpoises and dolphins may also be spotted by those willing to brave the colder temperatures of this month. There are opportunities to witness the return of the steller sea lions by the thousands.