Whale Watching

Exploring the Wonders of the Ocean’s Giants.


Biologically rich waters, teaming with life, make the coast of British Columbia and Alaska a hot spot for whales and dolphins. From spring through the fall, coastal waters experience blooms of plankton and krill, schools of herring and other small fish, and returning runs of salmon.

These rich food sources inspire migrations the length of the continent, as humpback and grey whales return to feed each year, and foster families of killer whales who seasonally reside near shore to feast on salmon. The coast of BC and Alaska is home to many species of whales and dolphins, some elusive and others inhabiting inshore waters where we can observe them on a regular basis. It is possible to witness spectacular events here.

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales are a common sight along the coasts of BC and Alaska, known for their acrobatic displays and haunting songs, which carry for long distances underwater. They migrate continental lengths to feed on krill and herring. Humpbacks are an important part of the coastal ecosystem, and responsible whale watching practices can help ensure their continued existence for generations to come.

Spending a week (or longer) on a Maple Leaf trip provides opportunity to witness a range of humpback behaviours in an unhurried way. One such event is when a group of humpback whales comes together in unison to group bubble-net feed. This culturally taught technique takes coordination and timing, as one whale blows a net of bubbles under a school of small fish others will circle to frighten the fish inward, and together they push the school into a ball to the surface of the water.

On queue, from one whale making feeding calls, these whales together break the surface of the water, side by side, mouth agape, to gorge on the fish they’ve caught in their net of bubbles. A bubblenetting group can contain from 4 to 20 whales. If you can imagine the massive spectacle of ten school-bus-sized whales rising out of the ocean with their mouths agape, you have an inkling of how incredible this is to witness.

Killer Whales (Orcas)

Found in every ocean of the world, killer whales, on the coast of BC are the most well-studied cetacean in all the world.

Beginning in the 1970’s these studies quickly taught us that each individual is recognizable by way of photo-identification of the fin on their back, the dorsal fin. This realization then allowed researchers the ability to catalogue individuals and soon understand their intricate social structure. These large dolphins exhibit strong family bonds, centered around the eldest female, the matriarch. While viewing resident fish-eating killer whales it is often very clear to see these bonds as adult sons are found travelling with their mothers their entire lives. 

Travelling the BC and Alaskan coast is sure to be filled with many marvels, one of which is likely to be incredible encounters with these magnificent leviathans. Each species, with unique behaviours, will inspire questions and the imagination. Their world beneath the waters surface lends great mystery about their lives, as we wait patiently for them to surface and grace us with their presence.

When Is The Best Time To See Whales?

From March to October, thousands of whales traffic our coast. Here are some seasonal whale behaviors to look out for:


Spring offers a chance to spot transient killer whales, which hunt for marine mammals in the area. Humpback whales return to BC waters this time of year.


Prime season for humpback whale observation, due to blooms of herring and krill. Resident orca pods can also be sighted, as they follow the salmon migration.


Humpback whales continue to feed in the fall, with many individuals still bubble-net feeding and putting on weight for their long migration south.

Whale Watching On Expeditions

Our love for the ocean and its inhabitants drives us to provide exceptional whale viewing experiences that are both sustainable and responsible.

Explore Whale-Rich Channels

Trips take place across one of the richest coastal ecosystems in the world, home to the world’s smallest and largest marine life—from tiny phytoplankton to mighty megafauna.

Observe Fascinating Behaviours

One of the best places on Earth to observe their feeding behaviours, a multi-day expedition provides an opportunity to see whales breach, fin slap or demonstrate culturally learned hunting techniques.

Learn From Engaging Naturalists

A skilled Naturalist will accompany you on your journey, offering answers to the mysteries, fragilities and wonders of the life hidden beneath the water’s surface.

View Whales Responsibly

Going beyond the guidelines set by local governments, and having a team of knowledgable experts on board, ensures no sign of disturbance goes unnoticed.

Our Connections

Local connections and deep coastal knowledge allow us to provide exceptional whale watching experiences along the BC and Alaska coast.

Observing Whales In A Responsible Way

Maple Leaf Adventures differs from a mass-market whale-watching outfit. We follow strict guidelines when observing whales, based on years of research and consultation with our partners in the field of whale conservation, some of whom work with us as Naturalists. These guidelines include keeping a respectful distance of at least 100 meters, limiting observation time, minimizing the noise of our ships, and sticking to established routes.

By following and often exceeding these guidelines, we provide an enjoyable experience for our guests while ensuring that we do not disrupt the natural behavior of these sensitive creatures. We believe that by promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices, we can inspire others to appreciate and protect the natural world around us, too.

What People Say

See what past guests have to say about our responsible whale-watching experiences.

    “Amazing whales, amazing food, amazing trip! We had a blast! Thanks so much Maple Leaf for this unique experience that will forever stay in our heart”

    Gaela G., Tripadvisor

    “We saw whales, sea lions, bears, river otters, seals and many species of birds. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

    Karol D., Tripadvisor


Discover the best places to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.

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Dive into the world of whales and dolphins, learn about their behaviours and conservation efforts.

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