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Whale watching Tour - Campbell River BC

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Whale watching Campbell River. It was the day when we (whalebone) started to spot whales and where we had been looking forward to for a long time. We had booked a seven-hour Whale Watching Tour Eagle Eye Adventures and were expected in the morning at the port of Campbell River. I had booked the whale tour in advance, because I was afraid that the tour would be fully booked and also because you got an extra 10% discount online. The intention was to set sail at 10 in the morning and look for humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, seals and other wild animals. The trip, performed with a Zodiac, would last a whole day. 

4.5/5
Whale watching Campbell River
Day 20: Whale watching Campbell River

Bute Inlet

Lunch was included and provided ashore in a place at Bute Inlet. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I ever saw. I have traveled a lot of countries and seen very nice places, but Bute Inlet is something special. I had not seen so much untouched nature for a long time. For many people, seven hours in a zodiac seem like a lot, but the boat trip has flown too quickly.

Parking at the port of Campbell River

We soon found the fairly empty free parking at the port. Because we had visited Campbell River the day before and knew the way, we arrived a little too early in the parking lot of the harbor. We also didn't have to search for a parking space. All four of us were full of expectations what the day was going to bring. After a 5 minute walk along the water we arrived at the Eagle Eye Adventures office. We were the first to receive a friendly welcome from a company employee.

Campbell River Harbor
Whale Watching Campbell River

Whale watching Campbell River - Eagle Eye Adventures

The owners of Eagle Eye Adventures come from the Netherlands and speak Dutch as well as English. Easy for the children to understand the explanations on the way. That is why I had chosen this company, but the guide who sailed by boat came that day (I thought) from Miracle Beach on Vancouver Island. In the end that was not a problem, because the children already understood quite a bit of English and the rest I translated.

Thermal suit & goggles

Before we got on the boat, we all had to put on a fat red rescue suit. The suit seemed too big at first, but at sea we were all glad we had one. When we stashed and it got too hot, we were able to fold the top. Once the boat was on speed, we closed everything well. You could ask for a pair of glasses against the wind on departure. If you do not bring sunglasses, I would certainly ask one before you leave, because they are in the building next to the office. Once the safety briefing was over, everyone had gone to the toilet and was wearing his suit and sunglasses, we could leave.

Cape Mudge - Tsa-Kwa-Luten

I always love the feeling in the beginning of such an adventure. The children liked the excitement and not (for sure) what we were going to see. We sailed out of Campbell River harbor past the Nuyumbalees Cultural Center and towards the Cape Mudge lighthouse. Cape Mudge on Quadra Island used to be called 'Tsa-Kwa-Luten', which means 'gathering place' in the Kwak'wala language. You can stay in one lodge that the Laichwiltach people have built on the beach, and where their ancestors once lived. Also with a camper you can stay overnight at this beautiful location on the water.

Whale Watching Campbell River

Whale watching at Mitlenatch Island

We sailed past the lighthouse to the deeper water on the bay. It did not take long for us to see water spray coming from some humpback whales in the distance. It felt strange at first that we came across whales so quickly. The first whales we spotted was for the uninhabited island "Mitlenatch Island". Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park is home to the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia. This nature reserve is an important breeding colony for various bird species including gulls, cormorants and guillemots.

Whale Watching Campbell River
Whale Watching Campbell River
Whale Watching Tour Campbell River

Campbell River Whale Watching Tour

The guide told us that 10 years ago only a couple of humpback whales stayed in the bay and you could search for a long time. But that there is now a constant 70 humpback whale in the bay. After a while on the bay and spotted dozens of whales, the guide decided that we should continue sailing. Whale watching is not difficult in this area. Every 20 minutes someone saw a group of whales. They are very easy to spot because of the water splashing out of their injection holes. The engine of the boat goes out, so you float with the current or with the wind. As a result, you can sometimes hear the spraying water.

Whale Watching Tour - Campbell River - Vancouver Island
Whale Watching Campbell River - Eagle Eye Adventures

Strict natural law!

The law on whale watching in the open sea has recently become stricter. The touring boats in Canada are now allowed to sail up to max 100 meters from the whales and 200 meters for killer whales. If the whales decide to come closer, that is not a problem. For example, a few have passed very close to our boat and there are even three humpback whales swimming under the boat. An 20-meter further they came back up. Fantastic to see. They did not feel like jumping up out of the water. Fortunately, there were two rebelling whales in the bay that saw a jump from the water. Jessica has both seen the jumps and I have one. To capture him perfectly on photo, I was one second late. The sea began to become restless and after noon we left for Bute Inlet.

On to Stuart Island

We sailed at full speed along the back of Quadra Island, along Read Island and Raza Island to Stuart Island. The area is beautiful to sail through, but what we would get to see I did not expect. Because of the many (Discovery) islands in the area you get high an low tide in different areas and at a different time. As a result, the water flows from one area to another at a high speed between the islands and you also get vortices. As we approached Stuart Island, we saw the first vortex that the boat could easily pass over. At that point they were still small vortices, but a little further the current began to strengthen.

Tidal Rapids 🌊

In some parts it seemed that we sailed over a fast-flowing river, but then in the sea. A very bizarre phenomenon. The guide said that it was not too bad and that the currents can sometimes be stronger. On this website you will find more information about the "Tidal Rapids" if you would like to sail with a boat between the islands. Along and in the current we saw sea lions hunt for salmon. Sometimes you saw a sea lion coming up with a big salmon in his mouth. After this piece of natural spectacle the guide put the boat on Stuart Island for lunch. Stuart Island is located at the mouth of Bute Inlet and is one of the Discovery islands. I found Stuart Island and its surroundings a magical place.

Whale Watching Tour - Tidal Rapids - Stuart Island BC
Whale Watching Tour - Tidal Rapids - Stuart Island BC

Sonora Resort

In the tops of the trees were bald eagles or flew along. Every year, hundreds of Stuart Island arrive bald eagles (video) to feast on the many salmon in the area. There is a hotel on the other side of the bay. You can stay in the beautiful Sonora Resort and book a room from 1350 $ CAD per room to 14000 $ CAD for a villa. You can book through the website of the resort or you can also just take a look. There are also beautiful pictures on their website of the surrounding area. To get there, helicopters are mainly used, because there is no ferry service to Sonora Island or Stuart Island. The moment we sailed on the rapids with our zodiac, just one landed on the grounds of Sonora Resort. If I could ever afford it, I would love to stay there.

Sonora Island - Sonora Resort

Back along the Discovery Islands

After the tasty lunch we left via a different route back to Campbell River. This time we sailed on the other side of Cortes Island, via Squirrel Cove and Cortes Bay. Along the way we stopped to watch the humpback whales. Unfortunately we have not seen any orcas. They had swam to Victoria the week before. Even though the excursion lasted a day, the orcas were already too far to go looking for them. More luck next time. When we turned in at the Cape Mudge lighthouse on Discovery Passage, two seals were sunbathing on a buoy. After this last photo moment we sailed back to the port of Campbell River.

Cape Mudge seals

Whale Watching Campbell River: Prices

At 6.10 pm we arrived at the port of Campbell River at Eagle Eye Adventures. After everyone had turned in their thermal suit, we received a debriefing from the guide about the route we had covered. That is why I can give so many details of the route. Without his explanation, I would not have known which route we had traveled. It is also the most expensive excursion that we have ever made, but was more than worth its price. The total price was $ 765 CAD including a 10% discount and tax for 2 adults and 2 children. You can excursions and prizes view Eagle Eye Adventures on their website.

Last night on Miracle Beach

In the evening we went to the beach of Miracle Beach for an hour and ended the day with an aperitif in our camper. Together with the island hopping tour from Tofino and the Wild Pacific Trail walk at Ucluelet, this was one of the most beautiful excursions that we have made on this tour. We could not wish for a nicer closing. The next day we had to Leave Vancouver Island again and we went to stay one more time before returning to Belgium.

With the ferry from Vancouver Island to Cultus Lake

Day 21-23: The "Vancouver Island" part was almost finished. That day we sailed with the ferry from Vancouver Island over the Strait of Gorgia to Horseshoe Bay. From Horseshoe Bay it was another 1.5 hour drive to our last destination Cultus Lake Provincial Park.

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Whale Watching Campbell River: Map

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Wim

I made the travel blog "Globetrotter Avenue" as a hobby, but also to share travel experiences with others. In the meantime I have visited more than 40 countries. We love nature, forests and mountains, but also sun, sea and beach. Enjoy reading!

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