Looking for the ultimate family-friendly adventure? Look no further. Whale watching around Vancouver Island is an exciting adventure at any age!

Whales, wildlife, fabulous scenery and the thrill of a lifetime. What’s not to love?

We’ve enjoyed the company of guests as young as a few weeks old, and as seasoned as 90! A whale and wildlife tour is the perfect way to explore the Salish Sea, learn about this amazing area and unique ecosystem, and meet some of the locals!

A family enjoys a view of sea lions at Race Rocks lighthouse.
Checking out the sea lions at Race Rocks / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Wildlife sightings might include humpback and killer whales, grey and minke whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters, eagles, seabirds and much more. You’ll explore the Canadian Gulf Islands or the US San Juan Islands, or maybe head west past Sooke toward the open Pacific Ocean.

Every tour is different and there’s always something fun and exciting to experience!

Many of us at Eagle Wing are parents ourselves. We know that the key to a successful trip when travelling with children is to be prepared. We want all our guests to have an amazing time with us. So here are a few things to keep in mind before taking your kids whale watching.

Book in advance!

During peak season (May–October), things can get busy! To avoid disappointment or long waits, it’s always best to book your tour ahead of time. This will allow you to plan ahead, pack what you need, get the kids (and grownups!) excited, and arrive just in time for check-in for your tour.

You can book online or call us toll-free at 1-800-708-9488 or 250-384-8008 for locals.

Be flexible!

If you plan to be in Victoria for a few days, don’t wait until the last day of your visit to come whale watching. While our boats go rain or shine, high winds can sometimes keep us at the dock. Alternately, a boat trip on a windy day, while safe for those more adventurous types, may not be the type of experience you’re looking for when travelling with infants or young children. 

We’re happy to change your reservation as needed if you prefer to wait for calmer weather.  Just be sure to communicate with our helpful team and we’ll ensure you have an amazing experience!

A child reads an onboard book about whales.
Using travel time to do some reading about whales! / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Open or semi-covered boat?

While there’s no age limit on our open boats, we always recommend our semi-covered catamarans as the better option when travelling with children.  These vessels offer the best of both worlds—bundle up and stay out on the bow for that “wind in your hair” experience, or enjoy the comfort and warmth of the covered cabin while travelling to and from the whales and other wildlife.

You’re free to move around the vessel throughout the tour (which is great for restless children!) and you have the option of getting out of the wind and other elements with your little ones. All of our vessels are equipped with bathrooms.

Getting here

We’re conveniently located at Fisherman’s Wharf at 1 Dallas Road on the south side of Victoria’s harbour. It’s a lovely 15-minute walk around the harbour from the Inner Harbour (where the Empress and BC Legislature are). If you’re walking or biking, just follow the path around the harbour and you’ll see the sign on the right for Fisherman’s Wharf

Alternately, you could hop on a harbour ferry for a direct, fun ride across the harbour. You can disembark right at the wharf in front of our office.

If you’re driving and want to park nearby, there’s a pay parking lot at Fisherman’s Wharf, just a hop, skip and a jump from our convenient dockside check-in area. Another pay parking lot is located just two blocks away at 203 Quebec street. On weekends, if you arrive early enough, you may find free parking on the streets—just don’t park in the residential zones!

What to wear?

While Victoria does enjoy the mildest climate in Canada, don’t forget that it’s about 10 degrees cooler out on the water than it is on land, especially when travelling at speed.

Children (and adults) should dress warmly and be prepared for all weather conditions. Layers are always best — it’s better to be too warm than too cold! A sweater and windbreaker or jacket, plus long pants, are recommended even in the hot summer months. Learn more about what to wear.

We do have some extras on board as well, from optional waterproof gear to gloves, toques (hats), sunglasses, sunscreen and blankets. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything extra!

A child hugs a sea otter stuffie on board 4 Ever Wild.
For younger kids, we have some furry friends on board 4 Ever Wild! / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Water, snacks and other stuff

Our tours are some of the longest in the business. While they’re usually around 3.5 hours, we’re won’t hesitate to extend the tour to ensure you see the whales. As such, we recommend bringing a refillable water bottle (there’s a water refill station at the office so be sure to fill up before you go!) and small snacks, especially for the kids.

You’re also welcome to bring a couple of extras to keep the kids occupied during travel time, like an activity book, favourite toy or travel game. Just be sure to leave those in the cabin when you’re outside enjoying the wildlife.

Dry storage is offered on all our vessels, and there’s plenty of space to bring a backpack with all the extras you might need.

Strollers are not permitted on board for safety reasons. Infant car carriers (with baby buckled in) are allowed. The ideal way to bring a baby on board is with a carrier, wrap or backpack, which offer plenty of mobility and a great view for the little one.

Does your child have mobility limitations or other special needs? Our vessels are accessible to everyone! Please contact our service representatives who will be happy to answer your questions and ensure we can fulfill your comfort and safety requirements!

Get your kids excited!

Want your kids to get the most out of this experience? Start reading about the Salish Sea and its inhabitants in advance. Check out our suggested reading list!

Print out colouring pages of Salish Sea animals from the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. Browse our social media channels and find out what we’re seeing on the water these days.

Oceans Week Victoria has some great resources for all ages. Encourage your kids to come up with some questions or things they want to learn about. Some of the best and most profound questions come from our youngest guests. And we LOVE questions!

While the thought of whale watching is enough to keep most kids up at night, it’s always nice to nurture and encourage inquisitive young minds both before and after the tour!

The sign at the entrance to Fisherman's Wharf, showing a fishing boat, a seal, a heron and a crab.
Entrance to Fisherman’s Wharf / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Lots to see at Fisherman’s Wharf!

It’s not just about the whale watching! Fisherman’s Wharf is a fabulous spot to explore. Wander the docks and admire the eclectic collection of floating homes and businesses. Explore the park and children’s playground on the hill above the wharf.

Or find a bench to enjoy the view and watch the float planes landing and taking off from one of the busiest water airports in the world!

Don’t forget to leave time, either before or after your tour, to enjoy a meal or a snack from one of the many mouth-watering offerings by vendors here at the wharf. Pop into 4 Winds Nest Boutique for a souvenir, get a latté at the Coffeehouse at Shoal Point, or even stay at the Floating Bed and Breakfast!

Other family-friendly activities in Greater Victoria

Looking for other fun activities for the whole family? Check out the following.

Victoria Bug Zoo

Maritime Museum of BC

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Butchart Gardens

Butterfly Gardens

Royal BC Museum

Miniature World

See you and your family soon!

At Eagle Wing Tours, we believe in the power of ecotourism to inform and inspire the next generation of ocean stewards. Whether you’re travelling with someone young, or just young at heart, we hope these tips will help you and your family have the best whale watching experience possible.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Published May 16, 2022