About Campbell River, British Columbia
Campbell River is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, right on the 50th parallel. The city offers easy access to nature – from hiking trails and beaches, to once-in-a-lifetime encounters with large marine mammals only a short boat ride from the dock. Campbell River whale watching is known as some of the best in British Columbia!
ABUNDANT MARINE LIFE
The waters surrounding Campbell River are incredibly nutrient-rich and current swept. These nutrients support a wide network of marine life, allowing species to thrive – from the smallest phytoplankton and krill to large salmon and giant Pacific octopus.
Because of the abundance of marine life, large marine mammals are attracted to this area to feed. We regularly see seals, sea lions, humpback whales, and killer whales.
Photo by Vasco van den Berg
Whale Watching in Campbell River
You can go whale watching from many different places on Vancouver Island: Tofino, Victoria, Port McNeill are all great places to look into.
But, if you don’t feel like driving all the way to Tofino, and want to find a nice hub to explore Vancouver Island, encounter whales and wildlife, and go for a few hikes… then Campbell River might be the perfect place for you!
Campbell River is located:
- 150km North of Nanaimo (approximately 1hr40min via Highway 19 or a little bit more than 2h via the more scenic Highway 19A)
- 265km North of Victoria (approximately 3hr10min)
The best time to go Whale Watching in Campbell River
While we have whales in the area year-round, the best time to go whale watching in Campbell River is from May to October. Depending on when you come, you’ll see different whales and wildlife. 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 budget-friendly 4 hour tours from $139 and longer 7 hour tours will take you on an incredible journey into the Discovery Islands Archipelago. Humpback whales, killer whales, dolphins, bears, and other amazing marine life awaits!
See why Campbell River is quickly becoming known as a whale watching hotspot on Vancouver Island! This is our most popular family-friendly tour, and takes place on our fun and stable zodiacs. Cruise throughout the Salish Sea and Desolation Sound in search of the biggest and most exciting marine mammals that call this region home. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop for breaks at interesting and historical sites in this beautiful area.
Covered Vessel Tour
Cruise deep into the current-swept channels and inlets of the Discovery Islands Archipelago. This tour takes place aboard our covered vessels which have a comfortable indoor seating area and spacious outdoor viewing deck. This tour covers a vast area where we often encounter humpback whales, killer whales, bears, sea lions, seals, dolphins, and a range of colourful sea birds. Join us for this incredible once-in-a-lifetime tour!
What else to do in Campbell River
Besides whale watching tours, there are lots of activities to choose from in Campbell River!
HIKING & WALKING TRAILS
Campbell River offers easy access to beautiful hiking trails. From beginner to advanced, there’s a trail for you!
Parks surrounding Campbell River like Beaver Lodge offer short, family-friendly hikes. Click here for a list of family-friendly trails and maps.
You’ll also have to try the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge, which is accessed through a short hike through an old-growth forest. The suspension bridge is around 60m long, stretching over a spectacular canyon with a thundering waterfall! It’s actually one of the highest pedestrian suspension bridges in Canada (60m high)!
The moderate Ripple Rock hike 20 minutes north of town gives amazing views over Seymour Narrows, where tidal currents reach 16 knots (30km/hr) on a regular basis.
If you’re looking for more moderate-advanced hikes, Strathcona Park boasts a long list of mountainous hikes and is only 45 minutes from town.
The Campbell River Museum is also another must-see with many permanent galleries (Indigenous culture, fishing, logging, pioneer life…) and also a souvenir shop with a great selection. Check out their website for more information and hours.
DOWNTOWN CAMPBELL RIVER
Campbell River also has an Art Gallery conveniently located downtown, a bowling alley with pool tables, and many restaurants and pubs with local craft beers.
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 Discovery Pier and spend a few hours fishing while enjoying a snack or ice cream from the concession.
Alternatively, book a fishing charter with one of our professional and knowledgeable guides!
QUADRA & CORTES ISLANDS
Quadra Island is a short ferry ride from downtown Campbell River. You can drive on or walk on the ferry. On Quadra Island, explore local artists and artisans, beautiful beaches and campsites, and hiking trails.
From Quadra Island, you can take another ferry ride to Cortes Island. This remarkable island is on the edge of the wild. Small, vibrant communities in Whaletown, Squirrel Cove, and Manson’s Landing offer quaint restaurants, festivals, and galleries. Remote beaches, lakes, and hiking trails keep adventurous spirits busy!
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!