Whale Watching and Cultural Tour
Discover why the mighty orcas (killer whales) are such an important part of our Kwakwaka’wakw culture, on a four-hour whale watching adventure from Vancouver Island that combines cultural history and epic wildlife sightings. Known as Max’inux (Knowing How to Stalk Their Prey), orcas often appear on our ceremonial masks, and in our songs and stories as an important part of our oral history. Our agreement to live in harmony with them extends to our approach to whale watching as we stay a respectful distance from them to allow the whales to move freely through our ocean.
Departing from Port McNeill, located North of Telegraph Cove and Campbell River on Northern Vancouver Island, BC, our whale watching tour combines cultural discoveries at a local First Nation museum, with world-class wildlife watching on an adventure into the heart of the traditional First Nations’ territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw.
Share our love of the local landscape and witness the simple beauty of our natural world as we encounter whales and other wildlife. Learn more about the spiritual side of our connection with the wildlife that calls these waterways home. Experience the elements on a four-hour tour that puts you at one with nature and offers a personal perspective of our Kwakwaka’wakw culture.
What will we see?
With a greater understanding of the cultural and spiritual importance of wildlife to the Kwakwaka’wakw, we will take an exhilarating zodiac expedition to discover the home of orca, humpback, grey, and minke whales. Watch the whales feed, spout and breach while we wait at a respectful distance from these magnificent creatures and keep an eye out for other wildlife. The Pacific waters offer spectacular sightings, with time to reflect and take in the simple beauty of the natural world. Whale and wildlife sightings vary according to the seasons and migration patterns, but we hope to encounter some of these majestic mammals and birds: Humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, bald eagles, great blue herons, seals, sea lions, and migrating bird species.
Where do we go?
Our adventure begins on land in ʼYa̱lis (Alert Bay) at the U’mista Cultural Centre – a museum dedicated to telling the story of the people of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation. Your tour guides, members of one of the 19 tribes of Kwakwaka’wakw, will interpret the exhibitions to delve deeper into the history of the artifacts. These cultural artifacts include ancestral masks that were confiscated during the Potlatch Ban between 1884 and 1951, which outlawed traditional ceremonial feasts and Potlatches and had a devastating impact on Indigenous people.
What kind of boat will we travel on?
Our 33 foot vessels, the MAYUMI and soon to be named sister ship, were built in Oregon and delivered to Vancouver Island. The 3100 North River OS is designed with a unique and highly stable hull which allows greater payloads and tougher seas to be navigated. We meet all Transport Canada Specifications and Regulations for safety and stability. Our operators are licensed by Transport Canada. We are certified for 12 passengers and two guides. A heated cabin and marine head makes for a comfortable ride!
Your family and friends will be safe with the unequalled stability provided by North River’s hull design, either while under power or at rest. North River’s huge reverse chines allow occupants to move freely about the deck. Few other boats on the market can match North River’s design and safety.
The Zodiac Hurricane 630 Mid IO is used as a shipboard boat for a variety of missions including search and rescue, law enforcement and force protection. The deep-V fiberglass hull and inflatable collar combined with bench style seating; provides the seaworthiness, shock mitigation, stability and maneuverability required to operate reliably and effectively. The ruggedized hull and collar construction and highly responsive diesel engine/outdrive propulsion system allows the Hurricane 630 to be a safe vessel for wildlife viewing and sightseeing.
Tour Length: Four hours
Group size: Two people minimum. 8 people maximum.
Minimum age: 7 years old
Departs: 12:30pm from Port McNeill
Our whale watching and cultural tours include:
- Dedicated Indigenous tour guide and cultural ambassador
- Entrance to U’Mista
- Drinks and Granola bars
What should we bring?
We provide everything you need to enjoy the day, but here are some extras you may want to consider bringing:
- Insect repellant
- Medication (if needed)
- Hats (toques or beanies) and sun hats
- Breathable, non-cotton clothing is recommended, but not essential
- Good, sturdy footwear