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Canada bear viewing holiday on Vancouver Island – Number 3

Posted in: Canada, Posted in: Bear Safari Canada


We were very fortunate to have our Canadian Operations Manager living on Vancouver Island for many year, enabling us to personally check out the best Vancouver wildlife holidays and bear watching tours on Vancouver Island. To summarise, we can simply break the island into its two coasts. On the eastern side, facing the western coast of BC, we have grizzly bear tours to Knight Inlet, fly-in bear safaris to Grizzly Bear Lodge, Orca viewing in Johnstone Strait, Humpback whale viewing and grizzly bear viewing from Campbell River. On the west coast facing the Pacific Ocean, we have fantastic black bear viewing at Tofino, Humpback Whale safaris and black bear safaris from Zeballos and also chances to see Gray Whales and Sea Otters. It is very easy to combine the two coasts by hiring a car from Vancouver, Nanaimo or Campbell River and for us, this is one of the best Canada self drive itineraries for wildlife lovers.

Best time to visit Vancouver Island for grizzly bears?

If you are looking to maximise your grizzly bear viewing on Vancouver Island, then you should consider travelling in Spring (May&June) or Autumn (September/early October). Spring bear viewing on Vancouver island is when the grizzly bears are feeding on sedge grasses and crustaceans and are most likely to be observed feeding in the many estuaries and inlets on the western coast of British Colombia. Whereas the autumn brown bear viewing is focused on the salmon run. Watch grizzly bears catching salmon and gorging themselves on this protein feast; as they fatten themselves up in preparation for the winter hibernation. Some of the best Vancouver island bear tours can be accessed from both Campbell River and Telegraph cove.

Best time to visit Vancouver Island for black bears?

It is important to know that the black bear is the only bear found actually on Vancouver Island and therefore without the competition on the larger brown bears, the population has flourished. Black Bears will come out of hibernation in April and start to feed on berries in the woods. It is not however until May and June that they are more visible; often seen foraging for shellfish on the coastline and inlets of Vancouver Island. Try black bear viewing tours in Tofino in small comfortable zodiac boats, or head further north on the pacific coast to the small community of Zeballos, which provides both black bear boat safaris and chances to see seat otters and humpback whales.

Best time to visit Vancouver Island for Whales?

If you think of the famous northern and southern migration of the Gray Whales from Mexico to the Arctic Waters and know that a small sub population choose to stay in the rich waters off Vancouver Island, you can say that the best time for whale watching in Vancouver is from March to November. However, many clients taking a whale safari in Tofino or Johnstone Strait are here for the Orcas and Humpbacks; which tend to ‘show’ themselves a bit more than the Gray Whales. So the whale watching season for these two species is from July to September.

Vancouver Island wildlife tours – what do expect?

We have already spoke about both grizzly bears and black bears and some of the iconic whale species which can be seen on a whale watching safari off Vancouver Island; such as Orcas (Killer Whales), Humpback Whales and Gray Whales – but the full list of Vancouver Island wildlife is long and rich and in this blog we just mention a few of the more visible ones you are likely to encounter on one of the day tours. On the land, you may see Racoons, black-tailed deer, and many Bald eagles feasting on the remains of the huge salmon run. Whereas, in the rivers, estuaries and oceans you might encounter Harbour porpoises, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Sea Otters, River Otters, Steller Sea Lions and California Sea Lions. Wolf sightings on Vancouver Island are very rare, as they shy away from humans, but we have clients who have viewed then swimming between the island off Clayoquot sounds; opposite Tofino.

Vancouver Island points of interest from a wildlife perspective

For us and our clients, the best Vancouver Island wildlife tour would visit bear viewing locations on the west coast, such as Campbell river and Telegraph Cove – also excellent for Orca and Humpback whale watching tours; before driving across the spine of the Island to either Tofino or Zeballos and taking boat safaris for bear, whales and sea otters. We choose wildlife lodges on Vancouver Island with a true wilderness setting, where you have a chance to see black bears, sea otters and maybe even a Lynx from your outside deck – very rare! Check out our well priced Canada bear watching holiday on Vancouver Island for more information.

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