IMPORTANT BOOKING INFORMATION
Our Tofino Whale Watching, Tofino Bear Watching and Hot Springs Cove Tours have a 48 hour cancellation policy. If any cancellations are received, including a reduction in the passenger numbers, within 48 hours of the tour departure then the full amount of the reservation will be charged to the credit card used to secure the booking. All cancellations made after 48 hours or “no-shows” will be subject to the full charge of the fare. We save your seats for you up until the last possible moment, which doesn’t allow us the opportunity to resell it.
A tour may be cancelled or schedules altered according to weather conditions and tides. In such an event you may reschedule your tour or collect a full refund.
The Whale Centre enjoys a sightings success rate of over 95% for both Whale Watching Tours and Bear Watching Tours throughout our season. Unfortunately, due to the inherent nature of viewing wild animals in their natural habitat, we cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that there will be sightings on every tour. To enhance the expected value that each of our guests deserve, we offer our lifetime, non-expiring guarantee: If you join us on a tour and you do not see a whale or bear, we will provide you with a rain check, allowing you to join us on another tour free of charge.
Guests using rain checks for whale watching and bear watching tours are obligated to make a reservation for any tours and are on a stand-by basis. Our rain checks never expire. They can be used on the same day, next year or in five years. If you have any questions regarding our rain check policy please speak to our staff.
Will we really see whales and bears?
Yes! The Whale Centre has a success rate of 95% averaged across all of our departures for seeing both whales and bears on our tours.
What species of whales do you see on your tours?
We see Grey Whales, Humpback Whales and Killer Whales in the waters off Tofino. Grey Whales migrating and feed in our waters March - October. Humpbacks are in our area May to September, depending on their food sources. Killer Whales are wild cards. We never know when the Transient Orca will show up. We also can encounter sea lions, bald eagles, seals, porpoises, mola mola and a myriad of birds on your tour.
Do we need a reservation?
Reservations are definitely recommended so that we can offer you the best departure time to fit your schedule. Trips often sell out and we don’t want you to be disappointed. Also, if you reserve in advance we can alert you to any possible changes in our schedule.
How early should we check in?
Thirty minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.
Can we bring a camera?
Yes, bring your camera and/or video camera. We also recommend that you bring a plastic bag to keep your camera safe and dry during transit. The boat will come to a complete stop for photo opportunities. Don’t forget your batteries and cards.
How close will we get to the whales?
There are strict guidelines when it comes to watching whales in Canadian waters. We take these regulations very seriously so as not to influence the behaviour of marine mammals in any way. We want to respect the fact that these are wild animals and remain impartial observers. We can get as close as 100m to marine wildlife.
What is the best time to see whales and bears?
Whales are in our coastal waters all the time! We offer Whale Watching Tours from March to October. Anytime is a good time to go, weather permitting. We offer Whale Watching Tours at 10:30, 2:00 and 5:00 pm.
The best time to see Black Bears in Tofino is April to October. The best time of day to go on a Bear Watching Tour is on the low tide when they come down from the forest to the shoreline to forage. Our departure times change daily with the tide. Call us to find out departure times for the day you want to go out.
What types of whales will we see in Tofino?
We see Grey Whales, Humpback Whales and Killer Whales in our coastal waters. We mostly see Grey Whales. The Killer Whales are wild cards, we never know when they will show up. Humpback Whales are in our area from June to September. Ask our office which whales we are seeing when you arrive in Tofino.
What should we wear?
Please dress very warmly and wear flat, closed-toed shoes (strappy high heels are not ideal for marine travel). We will be travelling at more than 30 miles per hour (55km/h) and temperatures are at least 10 degrees C cooler on the water, so a windbreaker or jacket will help you to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. Open vessel passengers are required to wear our stylish red cruiser suits, which serve the dual purpose of keeping you warm and acting as a life preserver. Cruiser suits are required by Transport Canada to ride aboard the open vessels. Don’t forget sunscreen, sun glasses (even if it’s cloudy, they help keep wind out of your eyes), binoculars, and an extra layer, just in case.
If you are prone to motion sickness while in a car, or have experienced sea sickness in the past, we recommend being prepared by visiting a pharmacy to discuss the best option for you. Fortunately, there are many options to reduce the risk of becoming sea sick.
Do tours depart if it is raining in Tofino?
Yes! "There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." - Ranulph Fiennes
We can provide you with rain gear!
Will our tour be cancelled if the weather is stormy and the sea conditions are unsafe?
Yes. Your safely is our priority. The Whale Centre does not take guests out on tours if the weather and sea conditions are unsafe. We are constantly watching the weather and sea conditions. If we decide it is unsafe to conduct a tour we will offer you a refund or book you on the next available tour.
What types of boats do you use for your tours?
We use open Boston Whalers with twin engines that fit up to 12 passengers on board for Whale Watching, Bear Watching, Bird Watching and occasionally the Hot Springs Tours. These vessels are safe, reliable and perfect for viewing and photographing wildlife.
We use the Hootla Kootla a covered cabin cruiser for the Hot Springs Tours. This is a 30 foot custom built covered cabin cruiser that seats up to 12 passengers. This vessel is heated and has a back deck for viewing wildlife from.
Do you take kids out?
Yes! We take kids out on all our tours! Our boats are kid friendly! We have lifejackets, rain gear and pants for kids. Please have your child dress warmly: warm pants, sweater, jacket and hat. It is chilly on the water when you are travelling in an open boat, we want the kids to be as warm as possible.
How hot are the Hot Springs?
The Hot Springs Cove pools remain at an average temperature of approximately 50 degrees Celsius.
How often do you go to Hot Springs Cove?
We go to Hot Springs Cove from Tofino daily, year round!
Do we sign a waiver?
Yes! All activities and tours are subject to the signing of a waiver. If you do not accept the terms of our release agreement, you will be refunded and will not participate in the excursion.
How do I get to Tofino?
Here are some tips on how to get to Tofino.
Why should we choose The Whale Centre? .
We are local! We are a family run business located in one best places in the world to view whales, bears, birds and marine wildlife. Our company has employed local, safe and knowledgeable skippers since 1984. Few people know these waters like we do! Our company cares about the whales and local wildlife, the environment and want to give you life changing experiences on all our tours. The Whale Centre has supported and donated over $175,000 to Killer Whale Research and marine wildlife monitoring in Clayoquot Sound.