Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island

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Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival

The Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival

It's the time of the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival Vancouver Island. Three gray whales repeatedly appear in front of us from the waves of the Pacific. They swim north toward Alaska. For a while their backs push out of the waves at the same time. After a while, however, the animals separate from each other. While one of the gray whales jumps out of the water and says goodbye to us with a splash, the other two dive. One of the whales presses its breath into the cool spring air. He sucks in oxygen again before diving into the depths. Beside him, the fluke of the second rises from the waves. A sign that this is also on the way down.



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Stellars Sea Lions at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival
Stellar's Sea Lions


Stormy ride to the whales at the Tofino Whale Festival

We drive from the Long Beach Lodge where we are staying to Jamie's Whale Watching. We laboriously search for support on the backs of the benches of those in front of us on the top deck of the Leviathan II. We take the excursion boat from Jamie's Whaling Station out to take photos of this spectacle. We hope to see gray whales. At this time - in March and April - they migrate north from their winter grounds off the coast of Baja California. They spend the summer off the coast of Alaska.


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“Put warm clothes on,” we were advised as we left Jamie's Whaling Station. “And take pills for seasickness. A trip to the whales can be bumpy. ”The boat wobbles between the waves. These have the expanse of the Pacific to make a call. But even I don't mind. The looks at the whales' capers make up for any discomfort. In addition, the sun shines so warmly from the sky, as if we were in the middle of summer.


Jamie's Whaling Station at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island
Jamie's Whaling Station at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island - explore the Clayoquot Sound by boat


Tofino and Ucluelet - venues at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival

The towns on the west coast of Vancouver Island are not old. Tofino was officially founded in 1909 on the Esowista Peninsula. Settlers had settled there at the end of the 19th century. Among them were Norwegians, Scots and English. The idea to make Tofino a tourist destination arose early on. But the geographic situation delayed the plans. It was not until 1959 that the longed-for lumberjack road was finally built over the mountains from Port Alberni.



At the Wickanninish Inn on Chesterman Beach

Charles McDiarmid, owner of the Wickaninnish Inn, shares what his father's work was like before the road was built: “My father was a doctor and didn't own a car. Instead, he had a pilot's license and an airplane. With this he flew along the coast of the island to his patients. ”It was also McDiarmid's father who recognized the opportunities for tourism in the region:“ He bought land on the coast when there was no road to Tofino. He wanted to build a motel there as soon as there was a road connection to the east of the island. ”His son was already thinking further. He ran luxury hotels before deciding to put his father's plans into action. Except that he didn't build a motel, but one of Canada's top hotels: the Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach in Tofino.

Hippies in Tofino

In the late sixties, young people came to Tofino. These built camps in the woods. At the same time, surfers surfaced on the beaches. 1970 was eventually set up the Pacific Rim National Park. When 1972 is tarred the road, it is Canada's only tarred road that reaches the Pacific Ocean. Today Tofino is the tourism center on the Pacific Rim.


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Gold in Ucluelet

Ucluelet was created at the beginning of the 20. Century, when gold was discovered in Florencia Bay. However, it turned out that the mining of the precious metal was unprofitable. Therefore, the place developed into a fishing village. The second source of income is the woodworking industry. Tourism has only played a role in the fishing village for twenty years. But one sees the place its past as a fishing center and logging place.

Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island

The arrival of the gray whales off the coast of Vancouver Island gives the coastal towns an occasion to celebrate. This is not just about the 20.000 whales migrating north at the end of March. People on the west coast of Canada celebrate the beginning of spring at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. They also celebrate life on the British Columbian coast and, above all, themselves. The Washington Post counts the festival as one of the best events Canada has to offer during the year. Organizing a party, you can do that at the Pacific Rim. With a variety of events that revolve around eating, drinking, learning and partying.

Events for everyone at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival

Events are offered for everyone. Those who like it culinary can start with the Fire Brigade at breakfast. Then he can award the best fish soup at the Chowder Chowdown at noon. This is offered by the local chefs. In between he can learn how the gray whales eat. And in the evening he can finally attend the dessert reception. There are as many sweets as the stomach can absorb. Alternatively, watch the bakers at Common Loaf Bakery create seafood from dough.

Sandcastles, handicrafts and interesting facts

But not only enjoyment is provided. Children like the sandcastle builders' competition. Meanwhile, her parents stroll through the handicraft market. If you want, you can find out more about diving. Or you can attend one of the lectures. It deals with issues such as protecting the world's oceans. You can find out what you can do yourself to preserve endangered species. Or you can find out more about the dolphins of British Columbia, their history, their diet and their distribution. Another lecture provides information about the feeding behavior of porpoises. You can also learn more about calamari, the meaning of life and more. Of course, whales play a role. They and their way of life are finally presented in detail.

Movies or readings at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival

Those who prefer culture can visit a film screening or listen to an author reading. The history of Vancouver Island's west coast is presented. Or you can listen to the stories of Roy Henry Vickers. He is a painter whose Eagle Aerie Gallery is in Tofino. If you want, you can also be introduced to basket weaving. If you want, you can also watch two artists at work in the Wickaninnish Inn.


Look for whales in the vastness of the Pacific
Look out for whales in the vastness of the Pacific at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island


The Pacific Rim, a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts

We choose outdoor events. So the first thing we do is visit the Botanical Garden. A businessman from New England has made his dream come true. George Patterson takes us through his wonderland. The Tofino Botanical Gardens Foundation offers both educational programs and information about temperate rainforest conservation. A network of paths and boardwalks winds from the visitor center into the forest. In it, Patterson has transformed clearings into a series of show gardens.

In some of them you can see plants that once grew in the coastal rainforests of the world. Others, after all, are dedicated to the ethnic groups who live on Clayoquot Sound. These include the Nuu-chah-nulth Indians, the early settlers, Japanese fishing families and of course the hippies.

The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet

In the morning we set off for the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet. The trail is part of a network of trails that will extend from Ucluelet to Pacific Rim National Park once completed. Sections in the area of ​​Ucluelet have been opened. They wind their way along the cliffs and coastal landscape on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The views of Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands to the east and the ocean to the south and west are breathtaking. Our hike reveals coastal panoramas and views of the sea through cedar and spruce forests. This walk past giant trees, from which trees are already growing, makes every photographer's heart beat faster.


What is essential in your suitcase?

  • rain jacket - Which is the best, you can read here
  • Do you want to hike in BC? rainproof hiking shoes are essential.
  • A pair of backpack does a good job on a trip to the Pacific Rim. Hiking trails and miles of beaches invite you to take long walks and hikes.
  • Check our hiking checklistwhether you have packed all the hiking equipment you need for your tour.


Jamie's Whaling Station Tofino
Jamie's Whaling Station Tofino


Net fishing in Ucluelet

The highlight of our outdoor adventure at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Vancouver Island is this Net fishing at Terrace Beach in Ucluelet. This is organized by the local aquarium - for one simple reason. Every autumn all animals in the aquarium are released into nature. Therefore, helpers ensure new life in the exhibition showcases in spring.

They pull nets out into the water at Terrace Beach. In it they drag everything that can get caught in it. These include starfish, mussels, oysters, fish and much more. David Hurwitz, the director of the aquarium, is proud of the concept. This gives the animals their freedom again six months later. So he enthusiastically helps in collecting new guests in his aquarium. “We want to make people aware of how important it is to preserve nature in this region. Our aquarium contributes to this. ”A sentence that fits well with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Vancouver Island.

The next Pacific Rim Whale Festival will take place March 15-22. March 2025 instead.

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Arrival to the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival

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Pacific Rim Whale Festival on Vancouver Island
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Source: On-site research for the article Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island with the support of Tourism Vancouver Island. However, our opinion remains our own.

Note: This article first appeared in the travel magazine 360 ° Canada.

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline

Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island

Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Slow Travel and Enjoyment travel blog TravelWorldOnline Traveller. You have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Your topics are Trips to Savor and wine tourism worldwide and Slow Travel. During her studies, Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she traveled to the USA and Canada - sometimes together with Petar Fuchs - and spent a research year in British Columbia. This strengthened her thirst for knowledge, which she pursued for 6 years Adventure Guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as Study tour guide for Studiosus Reisen tried to breastfeed all over the world. She constantly expanded her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: “What is beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do you eat in this region?” These are the questions she is now trying to answer as a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), among others. travel writer and travel blogger answers in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is below Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021 Other Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs. Recommendations on LinkedIn from tourism experts Further recommendations from cooperation partners and tourism experts Professional experience Monika on LinkedIn

26 thoughts too "Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island"

  1. That's what I call a great festival !! To see and experience the gray whales must be incredibly beautiful. The whole thing sounds like a very successful journey. Very nice, detailed article, which takes one.
    Best regards, Selda.

    1. Dear Selda,

      Yes, that's it. The fact that we have seen the gray whales in nature in addition to the festival, was still the special treat on this trip. We are glad, if you like our article.

      Best regards,

  2. WOW. I've never been in the corner before, even though it's been planned soooo long. But iwie always something in between. Watching whales from the boat, which might then even jump out of the water, would be an absolute dream of mine. Although I have seen dolphins in the wild tens of times, whales only once in Western Australia - and that was directly from the cliffs. With boat I imagine that really awesome. Also the rest of the report is just big movie. Nice detailed and informative, the corner seems to be really beautiful. That does not make the choice of the next travel destinations really easy * g *

    1. Hi Andrew,

      we know Vancouver Island quite well by now. No wonder. I was traveling there for many years as a tour guide. We love the west of Canada with its rough coasts and heartfelt people. As for the whales, they do not often jump out of the water during whale watching. Their behavior depends on what they are doing. But they are always fascinating. On the trip we did on this visit, they walked leisurely past the coast, dived again, showed us their flukes and finally disappeared into the depths of the sea.

      Best regards,

  3. Hello you two,
    what a comprehensive and informative report. Sounds like you've been in the right place at the right time. Watching whales is always a highlight. We had the pleasure before South Africa and on the world tour from Hawaii, where 10.000 humpback whales were, who gave birth to their offspring. Is always impressive to see these gentle giants! But otherwise the program sounds worthwhile for the Whale Festival. And the concept of the small aquarium is of course extremely charming. What I wondered though is whether they always have certain species there and need to search for a few, rarer specimens, or just take what they happen to get online that day?
    Thank you for the insight in any case. Must go to Canada!
    Best regards,

    1. Liebe Claudia,

      I can well imagine that the nursery of humpback whales off Hawaii is something special. We have not made it there yet. I would like to see that.

      We were also in the aquarium of Ucluelet. There it is about showing the native underwater animal world. I think that later, maybe without the hustle and bustle of the feast, you can go out and look for the animals you did not see during the festival. However, the showcases were so that there were always several species in it. I might as well think that it's just about showing the animals you captured.

      A great experience is the festival anyway.

      Best regards,

  4. Such a nice and informative report, thanks! That must have really been an impressive festival. Thanks for taking!

    LG from Norway

    1. Dear Ina,

      yes, that's it. It is an experience that we will not forget.

      Best regards,

  5. Dear Monika,
    That sounds fantastic and after a great festival! And experiencing gray whales live is an absolute dream. In general, Canada seems perfect for a nature-based journey.
    Thanks for the great insight, I'll keep this in mind!

    1. Dear Miriam,

      Yes that's it. In Canada, almost everywhere you have nature close to your doorstep. We love this country and have been going there for almost every year for decades. There is so much to explore.

      Best regards,

  6. Dear Monika,
    Wow, watching gray whales jump out of the water is a real dream!
    Let's see if we can at some point even delete from our bucket list.
    Best regards,


    1. Dear Alex,

      yes, that's a special experience. We did not see that on this tour though. Here they showed us only the Fluke. However, I have often seen off the coasts of Alaska when whales jump out of the water. That's a terrific spectacle.

      Best regards,

  7. Very interesting and informative report! Watching whales is truly a unique experience. At that time I was also able to find out in Australia. But I think it's a bit more interesting in Canada. At least I can imagine it. However, the boat would go there for me nothing.

    Greetings, Isabel

    1. Dear Isabel,

      I'm not seaworthy either, but when there are whales around, there's usually no stopping me. However, it was already violent in the open Pacific to jump over the waves in the small nutshell. On the other side of Vancouver Island, which faces the mainland, whale watching is much quieter, almost leisurely. It is similar off the south coast. Whale watching boats leave from Victoria and Telegraph Cove all year round because there are orcas all year round. These are so-called "resident pods", ie whale families that have their territory there and do not migrate any further.

      Best regards,

  8. An incredibly great report, which is really fun. Watching whales is already a unique experience that has deeply touched us personally.

    1. Hi Tina,

      I am glad if you like our report. Where did you watch whales?

      Best regards,

  9. Wow, very detailed and informative report! I would also like to see gray whales and the festival sounds very suitable in combination! Vancouver Island is now also on my travel list, thanks to the wonderful article and the even better photos!

    1. Dear Marina,

      Thank you very much for your nice comment. Yes, the Pacific Rim Walfestival is something special. My favorite thing was that you get in contact with the locals there. The two villages along the west coast of Vancouver celebrate not only the arrival of the whales, but also the spring and, above all, themselves. A great experience!

      Best regards,

  10. Very interesting video on how the fishing for the museum works. Thanks a lot for this


    1. That was one of the highlights of our trip. The whole village was on its feet and helped to catch the fish. We are happy if you like our video.

      Best regards,

  11. Oh how nice!! That was certainly a unique experience. Unfortunately we did not have any luck on Iceland ... but at least I was allowed to dream a little bit :)
    Best regards,

    1. Hello Ines,

      On Vancouver Island you can see the gray whales only at certain seasons. The time of the whale festival in spring is perfect for that.

      Best regards,

  12. Wow, impressive!
    That was certainly a unique experience, which will not be forgotten so quickly.
    Nice photos and great impressions!

    Greetings from Singapore!

    1. Hello Michelle,

      yes, that's it. It is a festival where you can experience not only whales, but also the people and the local life.

      Best regards,

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