1. Everyone is super-friendly
From the minute we checked in at their floating office to the minute we got off the boat we were very impressed with the friendliness, professionalism and sense of fun shown by everyone in this family-run business. It’s obvious why they’ve been ranked #1 on Trip Advisor for years!
2. You get to meet the locals
We don’t mean the two-legged kind. We mean the ones with fins, flippers, fur and feathers. It turns out that just outside the front door of Victoria’s cozy little harbour there’s a whole other world out there. A wild world of whales, seals, sea lions, otters, bald eagles and a dizzying assortment of marine birds. We were absolutely dazzled. More on that later.
3. You travel in comfort
In the summer, this company normally has four boats to choose from, two open-air and two semi-covered. We went in the fall on their luxury catamaran—4 Ever Wild—which has a warm cabin (with plush leather seats!) but plenty of room outdoors if you’re shy these days about being around other people. (They’re at roughly half capacity anyway to allow for social distancing.)
We recommend layering up with clothing and spending time at the bow. It’s refreshing for sure, but you get an incredible 360-degree view. And you might be the first to spot a whale!
4. You learn a lot
These guys really know their stuff. Their passion for this place and the animals blew us away. The naturalists talked about what we were seeing, mixing cool scientific facts with personal stories about the many amazing things they’ve seen over the years.
And we learned about some of the hot-button conservation issues—such as dwindling salmon stocks, endangered resident killer whales, and fish farms. We came away with a whole new appreciation for the ocean, and what we can do to help protect it!
5. You contribute to marine conservation
After meeting the wildlife—and in some cases, learning about their individual family histories—it really affects you. You want to help them. So it was a bonus to learn that just by being on that boat, we were helping to make a difference.
Through an international program called 1% for the Planet, the company donates 1% of its annual revenue to a range of conservation organizations who are working hard to restore and protect marine wildlife.
They were also the first whale watching company in the region to add a per guest wildlife fee—now $5. The money goes to organizations doing research, education and advocacy on whales, salmon recovery and other environmental projects important to the region.
6. You’re supporting an environmental leader
This company is very respectful around the wildlife. As we approached the whales, the crew explained the importance of minimizing our impact by following the viewing rules, especially those on distance and speed (the faster you are, the noisier you are).
And they’re very protective of the whales too. At one point, they blew their horn at a private boater who was going much too fast and heading straight for the whales. The boat slowed down and changed course. Yay!
From everything we saw and heard during our tour—especially the nice thank you to all of us at the end—it’s obvious that Eagle Wing is very committed to running an environmentally responsible business. It feels good to support a company like that!
7. They take really good care of you
Right from the time we booked we had a sense that safety and comfort are number one for this company. Their friendly emails cover off the do’s and don’ts of what to wear and what to bring. And they outline their COVID-19 safety measures, which are very thorough. It was all very reassuring and appreciated.
Heads-up that masks are required on tours. We could have worn our own masks if we wanted, but they provide really nice (and free!) whale-print buffs, which make a great souvenir.
After three very short but information-packed briefings about what to expect and safety, we were off on our tour! Thanks to the crew, we felt safe and protected so that we could concentrate on our number one goal of the day—having fun!
8. And about that fun…
What an incredible tour we had!
We didn’t expect to see all the big-ticket wildlife on our tour. But our captain sure gave it a try. We watched a humpback whale the size of a school bus feed on tiny bait fish. We saw a massive elephant seal and much smaller harbour seals dozing on the rocks. We laughed at hundreds of rowdy and very talkative sea lions. And we gushed over an adorable sea otter as he groomed himself in his kelp bed.
And there was more. Late in the tour, our captain got a report that there were killer whales not too far away. The crew asked us whether we minded if the tour was extended a little. Heck, NO! We got to see a family of four killer whales—and one of them jumped right out of the water in a full breach. What made it extra special is that the crew was just as excited as us!
From start to finish, this tour was an experience we’ll never, ever forget! Post Written by Val Shore