• Ron Kirstein

A WHALE OF A TIME – ARE YOU WILD FOR WHALES?




I have been fortunate enough to have toured with most of the whale watching companies operating out of Victoria, Ucluelet, and Tofino. My favorite boat and crew are Wild 4 Whales, the largest boat in the Eagle Wing fleet. It has lots of indoor and open-air seating. The views from the massive windows are spectacular! When the whales show up, everyone usually goes outdoors. There is still ample seating room, however, with whales, close by everyone is on their feet. There is plenty of room indoors and outdoors for everyone to get a good view!

The ride in this large catamaran styled craft is very comfortable. It handles well even when the wind blows. I took some video on my camera and there was very little shake as we moved along. The ride is smooth and I will say the most impressive ride and whale watching boat I have been on. As usual, the staff was pleasant and engaging, providing information to excited passengers. The washrooms were user friendly and even had skylights. There was excellent viewing from inside, out on the deck and even room for 8 people up top with the captain. All of their boats have hydrophones so you may hear the whales as well.



On my last trip, we saw Humpback Whales, Orcas, and Harbor Porpoises which was pretty cool. We stopped at Race Rocks Ecological reserve to take pictures of one of the oldest lighthouses on the West Coast of Canada. While circling the rocks we got good views of “Ollie” the sea otter, yes a genuine sea otter, not river otters which are generally more common, and lots of “rock sausage” – seals! Race Rocks has a winter population of hundreds of sea lions, however, none were there on this visit.



Race Rocks is a very special place for me as I spent hundreds of hours there scuba diving and showing my scuba students around one of the very best dives in British Columbia. I describe the underwater as “Butchart Gardens-like”! So, if you go there you will just have to visualize just how beautiful it actually is down below. About 30 feet (10 meters) below the surface, the bottom is almost covered with large white plumose sea anemones. The following are just a few pictures below the surface.



I knew the lighthouse keepers going back years. Back then we could scuba dive from off the island's dock and my kids got to climb the lighthouse and eat cookies baked by the keeper’s wife.






Eagle Wing offers excellent value for your money. They usually go out for 3.5 – 4 hours and often extend that time if the action is good. On my last trip, we were out for 5 hours. Not bad eh!


Eagle Wing boats are all very fast, extending their range. On two occasions with them, we have almost cleared Juan de Fuca Strait. I was not sure if they were headed for Russia or Alaska, but they were determined to find whales. These extended ranges give them an advantage and the opportunity to see more whales than some competitors.


Eagle Wing makes an effort to do EVERYTHING they can for their guests, it is no wonder they have been #1 on trip advisor for years! On this trip, you could hear and feel the happiness and excitement in everyone’s voices! Wild 4 Whales was designed by the owner and staff. One of the things that I could not help but notice (especially as a senior) was that there were rails and grab bars everywhere on the boat to help everyone move around with much more safety. You will see this in some of the pictures. They reminded me of aids that are attached to help people with difficulties get in and out of bathtubs! This is the only boat that I have been on that had that feature.


They also make an effort to ensure that passengers have some extras like windbreakers, gloves, and toques to keep them warm when the weather does not cooperate.

All in all, this is an amazing boat, the crew is exceptional and there were whales galore! Thanks, Eagle Wing, it was a blast!


I have also experienced their open boats which are fast and wild! If you want to get closer to nature try one of their open boats. Of course, there might be some spray, the odd bounce off a wave, etc. but then that’s the added excitement! Enjoy Eagle Wing!


The hard-working crew, as part of the tourism support system, work hard to show you a good time. Like other tourism jobs, they rely on tips to augment their salary. In this case, they are shared by the whole crew. If you had a good time, remember when if you enjoyed yourself to leave a tip while getting off the boat. If you had a great time, leave a bigger tip if you can!