Whale watching is always exciting, but imagine seeing killer whales from a kayak at water level. It’s a huge thrill, and you’ve a good chance of experiencing it in British Columbia (BC).
Killer whales (also known as orcas) occupy the sea around BC in large numbers from about May to October. August is peak time. This is a journey you’ll never forget and is worthy of any bucket list.
How Safe is It?
Like all other cetaceans, killer whales do not usually attack people and have no interest in eating them. The chances of being injured are almost nonexistent.
In any case, kayaking tours do not approach the whales within 100 metres, owing to whale-watching regulations. This respects the whales’ space and avoids disturbing their natural behaviour.
Although it’s possible for a kayak to capsize, it’s rare on organised trips. Guides are trained in rescue techniques, anyway, so you’ll soon be upright again if the worst happens.
Double kayaks are sometimes provided for extra stability, helping to assuage the fears of any nervous kayakers.
Fitness and Experience
Kayaking doesn’t need extreme fitness, though multi-day tours might require some modest hiking. You can always contact your potential tour operator if you have doubts. You’ll get some kayak training before setting off on tour.
Where to Go
Vancouver Island is undoubtedly one of the best places on earth for watching killer whales (or orcas). Many whales gather in the nearby Johnstone Strait over summer. The sheltered water there is calm, ideal for kayaking.
What You’ll See
Though you’re not guaranteed to see orcas, the odds naturally get shorter as you spend more time in the water. You’ve a good chance of seeing other wildlife, too, such as dolphins, porpoises, seabirds, eagles, bears, deer or even wolves.