The next morning we were up at 6AM for a 745AM departure time to head to Victoria whale watching, after partaking in the daily breakfast buffet (breakfasts were also the same every day, but since I’m not a huge breakfast for breakfast person, this was no problem at all). The first stop was the Vancouver sea plane airport on the harbor, where we were able to admire some art the beautiful view of the sound prior to boarding. We particularly liked the orca sculpture (right-hand side of the below photo. That was our guide Maika from Rare Indigo in the front of the picture. Also in this picture, you can see where the Olympic flame was held during the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
We got sorted in to groups for flights over to Victoria island (the BC capital city). We were surprised to learn that sea planing was a common and necessary means of transport in the northwest, and even was used for business commutes/visits. The airport experience was super easy – no security, no wait – you checked in with an ID and were issued a color coded boarding pass that eventually you turned back in upon boarding. We were to our plane in 20 minutes.
Here’s Brendan boarding our Saltspring airplane:
And pretty soon we were off, taking off from the water, of course!
Landing in Victoria was a snap, and we hung out for a few minutes in the Victoria Harbor as we waited to go inside and get changed for Victoria whale watching.
The “Prince of Whales” Zodiac in the back of the pic is what we were in for.
We got suited up and in 20 minutes were ready to roll.
I had a couple of layers of clothing underneath, a hat, and gloves, as well as sunglasses. After we got going and really hit speed on the water, I was glad to have the extra layers and warmth – especially as the rain daggers started hitting us!
While that might have been a forced smile on me (and probably a natural one on Brendan!), it was thrilling to pick up speed on the water (and I was also glad to have take my anti-nausea medication). We immediately made for the back end of the bay to try to see some orcas, but we never could find them. We did see a lot of natural beauty, and we also enjoyed the ride while it wasn’t raining.
Our guide Joe then did a 180 on a report of some humpback whales in the distance. A tell-tale sign of whales is birds (since they often compete for food). Boy, did we see birds!
And then, after circling a while, and listening to the radio reports of several other Zodiacs in our crew, we wheeled around and headed to an area with a lighthouse where several whales were spotted.
And then something magical happened – we saw a humpback whale breach! Our guide said this was only the 4th or 5th he’d seen this year, and that it was rare. It takes so much energy for the whale to pull 40 tons of his mass out of the water, that whales due this rarely, especially during the October time-frame prior to migrating south, where they are focused on storing up calories, not burning them. We read about it later, and whales use breaching as a means of communication, usually in rough water, when their usual vocal communication is not making it through. Unfortunately I only caught the splash.
Nothing was really going to top that, but we did see this teenage whale a few more times before we headed back to shore.
Then, the water got really rough and it started to rain, making the last hour back fairly miserable. Brendan and I were positioned on the right side of the Zodiac, and we barely got wet. The folks on the left-hand side were not as lucky, but, they did have the best whale-viewing. Seemed like an even trade to us.
On our way back, we also saw sea lion colony hanging out at the lighthouse island.
All in all it was a fulfilling and worth-it 3 hour ride (930AM-1230PM), but we were glad to be done! Next stop was lunch at Bard and Barker, a very cute Irish pub style restaurant in downtown Victoria. We were famished and both ordered some grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches. Then, we decided to walk around town until we departed back to Vancouver around 330PM.
Victoria was the capital of the state and was a very charming town – it had both the natural beauty of the harbor coupled with the regal government buildings and a cute cobblestone looking main street. We stopped for ice cream at a very bizarre “dipped” specialty shop. It looks better than it was, and was nearly impossible to eat (you bit in to it and it dripped everywhere).
Back at the Victoria harbor airport, we were ready to go home to Vancouver after a very productive day doing Victoria whale watching. We boarded the floatplane again without any hassle and enjoyed our flight back.
We returned with just enough time for me to head to the gym and Brendan to take a napsky. Dinner that night was at Glowbal, a short walk from the hotel, at 7PM – we departed as a group at 645PM. The previous night, Glowbal had apparently shut-down for Selena Gomez and The Weeknd – so we were looking forward to see the place that Vancouver stars (or at least ones that were filming there) frequented.
Dinner was very fun and the wine was a flowing. We sat near a few of the Canadian Travelport Star Award winner this evening, and they gave us the inside scoop on Vancouver. The food was so-so, again from a fixed menu serving similar-style food to what we had been eating previously. By 930PM, most people were wiped and headed back to the hotel. We took the long way to see a slightly different part of the city, and witnessed a street much like Colfax but less skeezy.
We fell asleep around 11PM and slept great after a long day of Victoria whale watching. How lucky we were!