On a planet filled with oceans, there might be no creature more spectacular than the whale. Unfortunately for most Canadians, the whale’s staggering scale means seeing them up close isn’t always an easy experience to come by.
But while you can’t necessarily predict where and when you’ll spot a whale, you can increase your chances of seeing one of these majestic creatures by visiting the right location. There are more than 30 whale species in Canada, and these five places might be the best spots to see one.
Tofino, British Columbia
Time it correctly, and you can visit Tofino when as many as 20,000 grey whales are making their migration north from the Baja Peninsula towards Alaska. Your best bet is to make it there for March, which will also allow you to see a ton of other incredible wildlife, like otters, seals, sea lions, and big-winged birds of prey.
The on-water intersection between the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers is a feeding frenzy for whales, who swarm the area to stuff their faces with krill. There are countless ways to see whale species in the area, from taking an inflatable Zodiac to hiring one of the many tours offered in town. No matter how you go about it, keep your eyes peeled for belugas, minkes, humpbacks, and even elusive blue whales.
Robson Bight, British Columbia
Home to Canada’s only orca sanctuary, Robson Bight Ecological Reserve keeps its orcas calm by banning boat traffic. The result is the sight of orcas swimming unperturbed, snacking on salmon and going about their days. At any given point there are as many as 200 orcas in and around Robson Bight, so while their “killer whale” nickname might make you apprehensive about a silent, kayak-led tour, the risk is actually minimal and the experience is one you’ll not soon forget.
Manitoba likely isn’t the first place that springs to mind when it comes to whale watching, but don’t be fooled—Churchill isn’t just the polar bear capital of the world; it’s also an incredible place to spot belugas. Located almost as far North as Nunavut, you’ll want to take advantage of the All-New Volvo V60’s luxurious heated seats and optional heated steering wheel, because even in the summer this small Hudson Bay town can drop into single digits. Luckily, the V60’s touch screen works even if you’re wearing gloves.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
The Cape Breton Highlands are one of the better places in Canada to see whales from the shore; if you’re lucky, you won’t even have to get out of the car. But you might want to—during late summer peak season, fin whales and humpbacks will have you begging for a better look. In that case, maybe consider a boat tour.