To encounter the giants of the deep, you’ll need to time your visit a little earlier in spring. Between mid-March and mid-April, Pacific grey whales pass close to the coast of British Columbia as they make the long journey from their winter breeding grounds, the lagoons of Baja California, to their summer feeding grounds in the cold, nutrient-rich Bering and Chukchi seas. Several operators on the west coast of Vancouver Island run whale-watching boat trips during this time for fantastic, close-up views of flukes and fins.
Other marine creatures to look out for include orcas, dolphins, porpoises and sea lions, which can be seen in the southern Georgia Strait between the mainland and Vancouver Island throughout the summer months. There’s also a large population of orcas in the Johnstone Strait and the Broughton Archipelago off Vancouver Island’s northeast coast, where humpback whales, minke whales, porpoises, harbour seals and sea lions can also be seen.
On Vancouver Island itself, where grey whales can often be seen from the shore, the annual appearance of these peaceable creatures is always cause for celebration. In the villages of Tofino and Ucluelet on the edge of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, it’s heralded by the Pacific Rim Whale Festival
, a nine-day springtime knees-up featuring exhibitions, guided rainforest walks and chowder parties – where a whale of a time is, of course, guaranteed.