Whale watching and hiking in Tofino, Vancouver Island

We planned a full itinerary of activities for our final day in Tofino, starting with a whale watching tour in the morning. There are several available wildlife watching tours in town, but we opted to go with our hotel’s Adventure Centre for the convenience.

Spotting whales

Following a quick breakfast for me and a Gatorade for Mr. Chuckles (who was still recouping from his night of food poisoning), we walked down to the marina to board our covered boat. We set off on a tour that took us on a loop around Vargas Island and saw our first whale within the first 10 minutes! It was a grey whale that we watched diving and spraying out of its blowhole.

Seeing other marine life

Unfortunately, that one grey whale was the only one we ended up spotting, but we did get the chance to see a bunch of other marine wildlife.

A couple seals.

A bunch of sea lions.

A cute otter.

And out of the water, a few eagles.

We also admired beautiful views of Tofino’s neighbouring islands on Clayoquot Sound.

Hiking the Big Tree Trail, Meares Island

Our whale watch finished up at around noon, bringing us back to town in time for lunch at Shed.

Afterward, we caught a water taxi with Jamie’s Whaling Station and ventured over to Meares Island. This is one of the many islands surrounding Tofino and is the location of Opitsat — the main village of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Its top attraction for tourists is the Big Tree Trail, a section on the southern end of the island that contains a boardwalk featuring some of the oldest and tallest trees in British Columbia.

The easy 2.4 kilometre Big Tree Trail hike showcases old growth forest of spruce, hemlock, and western cedar trees dating over 1000 years old.

The largest tree sits at the end of the boardwalk, a Western Red Cedar known as the Hanging Garden. While it looks dead, the tree is still alive and was given its name because of the other trees and plants that grow off of it. It measures 18 metres wide and is estimated to be 2000 years old, making it one of the oldest trees in the world.

Back to Vancouver

It took us about one hour to finish the trail and hike back to the water taxi pickup. This wrapped up our time in Tofino, and we headed back to Vancouver via seaplane in the evening for one more day in the city.

21 responses to “Whale watching and hiking in Tofino, Vancouver Island”

  1. So much wildlife you saw during your time in Tofino! Whales are difficult to spot, but you did get a great shot of the whale blowing through its blowhole! An excellent way to end your time there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would’ve been cool to see a whale jumping out of the water (like in the tour promotional photos!) but this was still really fun. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a fun trip! I’ve never been on a whale-watching trip but I can see that seeing some of the largest animals on Earth in their natural habitat can be a pretty thrilling activity. Thanks for sharing your experience and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to see a humpback or orca but those are rare. I’m glad we at least spotted this grey whale!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow I would love to see a whale one day! That hike looks so beautiful too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you would enjoy a trip to British Columbia with your love of hiking!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. amazing pictures of the marine animals! Wishing I was there on that hike today instead of at my desk at work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, I’m back at work and needing another vacation already 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great photos, especially that last one. It seems you had a really great time and you’ve shown other people so many good things to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! It’s always fun for me to go back through trip photos.


  6. Whale watching and an epic hike all in one day would be our idea of the best day ever! Love reading your posts and seeing your amazing photos. Thanks for sharing, Jess!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was my favourite day of activities out of the entire trip. Thanks again for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, what an experience. And those sea lions made me smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes those sea lions look like quite the characters.


  8. What a grand day out! Do they give you any guarantees about seeing at least one whale, or is it at your own risk?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this company did have a guarantee where you could rebook for a second try if no whales were seen, although this wouldn’t have been possible for us anyway since we were leaving that day. Luckily we did find that one whale!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. had no idea you could see so much amazing wildlife in this part of the world! Wow! Looks awesome! And you got pretty close to the whale it seems too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, lots of wildlife out in British Columbia.


  10. It’s so hard with wildlife – when I was in Iceland, I didn’t have much luck with whale watching either 😂 🐳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve managed to see whales twice on Vancouver Island now so I’m happy with that!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. […] our return from Tofino, we went out for an omakase dinner at Sushi Bar Maumi. This small minimalist sushi bar seats only […]


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