For Vancouver Island’s west coast locals, winter might be the ultimate season. It’s not just because they reclaim their stomping grounds from tourists, or because the waves come through with more punch. Part of the reason is because it marks the exciting time of the massive gray whale migration! This is celebrated in a two week long event known as the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, which offers plenty of activities to break those winter blues and entice you outdoors. This year, the celebration kicks off on March 10th in Tofino with its usual fanfare parade.
While there are tons of incredibly fun events to be had like the Chowder Chowdown and tug-o-war, the festival also aims to educate both visitors and locals about different aspects of our beautiful coast. From conservation and global warming, to First Nations traditions and, of course, whales and ocean creatures, there are keynote speakers and special events held at various venues. These intriguing events help open our eyes to the diverse dynamics of the west coast and Pacific Ocean!
Naturally, a celebration of a whale migration where over 20,000 gray whales pass by the coast also means one thing: fantastic whale watching. On the coast, you can whale watch nearly year-round, but March and April are two of the busiest months. The gray whales are heading north to feed with their babies, which they gave birth to in the warm waters of Mexico. They’re hard to miss, even from shore, as they pop up to breath in a brilliant spout, or even jump out of the water. Each splash or mist is often partnered with a smaller, matching spout as the babies play copycat with their mothers.
Although it may come as a surprise, whale watching in Ucluelet and Tofino is definitely a top thing to do, even in the winter. Booking a whale watching tour during the Pacific Rim Whale Festival is a sure-fire way to spot and celebrate these majestic ocean giants.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk