Strait of Juan de Fuca
Boats ply across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the neighboring Strait of Georgia in search of whales. Orcas, minke whales, and humpbacks are the main attractions, though other creatures including sea lions, elephant seals, and bald eagles are often spotted here too. Most whale-watching tours depart from Victoria and include a naturalist guide who can share insights on marine environments and the wider Salish Sea, which incorporates the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, and the Puget Sound.
Things to know before you go
- The Strait of Juan de Fuca is a must-see for whale watchers, with many different species present in the waters here.
- With the exposure to westerly winds, the waters in the strait can be rough—RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) are a popular option for their stability, speed, and ability to absorb bumps, making the ride a little smoother.
- It can be colder and windier out in the waters of the strait; some tours offer hats and gloves for participants’ use; if they aren’t provided, be sure to bring your own.
How to get there
Ferries cross the Strait of San Juan de Fuca while traveling between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia. The best way to experience the strait, however, is on a boat tour. Boat tours typically depart from Downtown Victoria on Vancouver Island.
When to get there
The best time for whale-watching is between May and October. This is also when temperatures are warmest.
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
If you don’t want to head out on the water, stay on dry land and follow the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Hugging the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, this 29-mile (47-kilometer) rain forest route runs parallel to the strait’s shoreline. Whales are sometimes spotted from the track but even if you don’t see them, the views of the coastline and the distant peaks of the Olympic Mountains make it worth the trek.
- Pacific Marine Circle Route
- Butchart Gardens
- Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites
- Church & State Wines
- Victoria Butterfly Gardens
- Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
- Victoria Cruise Port
- Sidney (Sidney-by-the-Sea)
- Fisherman's Wharf
- Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature
- British Columbia Parliament Buildings
- Victoria Inner Harbour
- Government Street
- Fairmont Empress Hotel
- Emily Carr House