Campbell River Whale Watching

About Campbell River, BC

Campbell River is located on the East coast of Vancouver Island, right on the 50th parallel. It’s called the “Salmon Capital of the world” for good reasons since you’ll find 5 species of the Wild Pacific salmon that return to the Campbell river and streams nearby:

  • Chinook salmon
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Chum salmon
  • Coho Salmon
  • Pink salmon


This abundance of salmons in Campbell River is another reason why orca residents (or killer whales) are regularly spotted there. If you’re very very lucky, you might even spot some from the Campbell River fishing pier

campbell river whale watching humpback whale

Whale Watching in Campbell River

You can go whale watching from many different places on Vancouver Island: Tofino, Victoria, Port McNeil are all great places to look into. 

But, if you don’t feel like driving all the way to Tofino through this picturesque winding road and want to find a nice hub to explore the island and go for a few family-friendly hikes then Campbell River might be the perfect place for you.

Campbell River is located:

  • 150km North of Nanaimo (approximately 1h40mn via Highway 19 or a little bit more than 2h via the more scenic Highway 19A)
  • 265km North of Victoria (approximately 3h10mn) 

Best season to go Whale Watching in Campbell River 

Best time to go Whale Watching is from May to October, depending on when you come, you’ll see different whales and wild life. Click here to see month by month what you can expect to see.


How much does it cost to go Whale Watching

You can find very budget-friendly tours from $99 where you’ll see lots of wild life. At Big Animal Encounters, we offer a 2h marine wildlife tour on one of our high-speed zodiacs.

Longer tours (4 or 7h) will take you on a nice journey to the Desolation Sound in search of those big and friendly mammals.

If you have more questions, please check out our FAQ page.

Things to do in Campbell River 

Besides Whale Watching Tours, you’ll have lots of activities to choose from in Campbell River, if you’re a veteran fisherman/woman then you probably already know it’s an ideal spot, if you’re a beginner, you can rent a rod from the Campbell River fishing pier and spend a few hours while enjoying a snack or ice cream from the concession.

You’ll also have to try the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge completed by the Rotary Club in 2015, it goes for about 60m over a spectacular canyon and is actually one of the highest pedestrian suspension bridges in Canada (60m high). If you’re afraid of heights, know that it doesn’t swing so you should feel safe!

The Campbell River Museum is also another must see with many permanent galleries (First Nations, Commercial fishing, Sportsfishing, Logging industry, Pioneers’ life…) and also a souvenir shop with a great selection. Check out their website for more information and hours.

Campbell River also has an Art Gallery conveniently located downtown, a bowling alley with pool tables, many restaurants, pubs with local craft beers.

You can also go on short hikes through the Beaver Lodge or other parks. Click here for a list of trails and maps (courtesy of Greenways Land Trust).

If you’re thinking of going whale watching in Campbell River, BC, on beautiful Vancouver Island, check us out at Big Animal Encounters, adventures of a lifetime!