Your day-by-day itinerary
Arrival in Telegraph Cove or Port McNeill
Today you’ll drive along winding roads through dense forests to the north of Vancouver Island. The road no longer runs along the coast, but inland through the mountains, and you’ll soon realise how sparsely populated this area is. There are fewer people, and more trees, rivers and lakes. Your destination will be either Telegraph Cove or Port McNeill, two tiny fishing villages on the Johnstone Strait, the favourite summer resort of killer whales.
You’ll stay in either of these typical Canadian fishing villages, where we’ve hand-selected several lodges in the middle of nature or dotted along the river. The rooms are comfortable and overlook the forest or water. Port McNeill is half an hour from Telegraph Cove, so if you’re here it’s worth the drive to have dinner at Sportsman’s Steak and Pizza House. Here, you can grab a table that overlooks the harbour and Johnstone Strait, a relaxed way to end your evening.
Orca & Whale Watching
In the morning you’ll drive from your lodge to the centre of Telegraph Cove for your whale watching experience. It’s a typical ‘boardwalk’ village, full of colourful wooden houses on stilts, located on a small bay. There are only a few places in Canada where the atmosphere of an authentic fishing village really reigns. In the harbour, there’s a cosy café where you can sit on the terrace and enjoy fresh fish & chips, or the local fish soup.
Before boarding, head to the ‘Whale Interpretive Center’ to see the impressive skeletons of dolphins, seals and whales. On board, the skipper gives a brief introduction to the orcas and other inhabitants of the blue waters of the Johnstone Strait. The chances of seeing orcas here are about 90%! All fishing boats are required to stay at least 100m away, though sometimes the orcas do swim up and suddenly emerge. If the whales are close, an underwater microphone is hung in the water, so you can hear their melodies.
Optional day trip
First Nations – Wildlife & Culture Tour
Today you’ll learn about the culture of traditional First Nations tribes in the Alder Bay area and have the opportunity to spot some of Canada’s diverse wildlife. First nations are the indigenous peoples of Canada representing 4% of the population. The guide will take you through the awe-inspiring waterways of their peoples traditional territories, learning about their culture at the U’mista Cultural Centre and spotting Grizzly Bears in their natural habitat, watch white-sided dolphins in the sea, encounter humpback whales and navigate waters favoured by migrating Orcas.
£175 - per person
Departure from Telegraph Cove or Port McNeill
From Telegraph Cove/Port McNeill you can continue your journey south to kayak at sunset on Quadra Island or make the journey back to the mainland and cycle through the parks and boulevards of Vancouver city.
Best time to visit
Whale watching on the Johnstone Strait takes place from July 1st to September 30th. In May and June, killer whales are sometimes spotted in their winter waters. If you’re in Canada in May, June, or October, and want to see orcas, then we suggest visiting Victoria instead for a better chance of spotting them.
Combine this trip with...
Where to next? This trip goes together perfectly with these: