I have been fairly lucky lately in winning cool products and the most recent one was a Whale Watching trip for 2 with White Rock Sea Tours. When I received a notification from being tagged as the winner in their contest, I was super excited. My wife and I have been on a Whale Watching tour before, and it was a lot of fun, but I’ve heard that tours with Captain Andrew and White Rock Sea Tours were next level.
After some back and forth with trying to coordinate with my sister (mudpunch) who was gracious enough to look after our 3 munchkins for this roughly 4-hour whale watching tour and the booking department we were able to book a date and time that we would venture out onto the Salish Sea with Captain Andrew.
The weather was not the most favourable for a whale watching tour, overcast skies with some pretty heavy marine fog. It was not supposed to rain, but it sure looks like it might. Luckily for us, the rain stayed away.
White Rock Sea Tours
White Rock Sea Tours was once located on the White Rock Pier, but since the great storm in 2018 took out the pier, they have relocated to the Crescent Beach Marina.
Upon arrival at Crescent Beach Marina, we were unsure where to go, so we stopped off at the Marina Office, where we found out we also needed to pay for parking. Once I registered our vehicle, we were pointed in the direction to go, just at the marina’s entrance. White Rock Sea Tours sits inside a quaint little red building.
When we got to the red building, Captain Andrew came out and greeted us. In total, there were eight people on our whale watching tour. Andrew suited us up in Mustang Survival suites and gave us a briefing about the safety protocols and what our adventure would (also might) entail.
It was time to board the boat! The boat we were on was the newer Polaris Spartan, a 34-foot rigid hull inflatable with twin 300-hp engines. It seats 12 in a jockey-style seating arrangement with room for 2 more in the cabin with Captain Andrew. There is a washroom on board for those who might need it during a longer trip.
When we got back, I looked at the map to get a rough sense of where our whale watching adventure took us. We leave Crescent Marina, headed out into Boundary Bay, entered US waters as we passed Point Roberts. We darted across the Straight of Georgia over the BC Ferries sailing route (dodging 2 BC Ferries actually) and over to the east side of Galiano Island.
Along the way, numerous water birds were bobbing along on the eerily quiet ocean waters before reaching Galiano Island. Most notably, for me, were the Loons, which is always a treat to see. There were seagulls, surf scoters, cormorants and more.
When we reached the coast along Galiano, we had our first whale encounter. According to the radio chatter, there were a few Humpback whales in the area.
We were welcomed with a pectoral fin slap, a way that Humpback whales communicate with one another.
One photo I’ve been dying to get is of a Humpback and their tail fluke. If you want to know when you have a chance to photograph a Humpback’s tail fluke, watch for when it starts to go into a deep dive, it will raise its back out of the water more than it would normally do if it were swimming along the surface like in the above photos.
Did you know that you can ID a specific Humpback whale from the markings on its tail fluke? Like how people can ID Orcas from their saddle patches, the Humpback whale’s markings on the tail help identify them.
One thing that I have always thought was interesting is how friendly the various whale watching tour companies are out on the water. From what I can see from this trip and previous trips, all the captains chat over the radio with whale locations. It is nice to see companies working together to ensure everyone can witness these magnificent mammals.
Captain Andrew was given the heads up that there were Humpbacks in the area from the other tour operators nearby. Unfortunately, none of them had seen any Orcas in the area. He mentioned that the Orcas were all hanging out around the Victoria area, but we were still hopeful to try and find some surrounding areas we could reach
After a while of watching these Humpbacks and then them just vanishing on us, it was time to start heading south along Galiano Island. Captain Andrew took us alongside Mayne Island to where Stellar Sea Lions and Harbour Seals like to hang out.
After floating alongside the little islands that that Stellar Sea Lions and Harbour Seals were on, it was time to head to Mayne Island and grab a bite to eat and a drink at the Mayne Island Resort’s restaurant the Bennett Bay Bistro.
We hung out for about an hour before getting back onto the boat and continuing our search for Orcas.
We headed a bit further south along Saturna Island where Captain Andrew told us the southern tip of Saturna where the US and Canada border are referred to as the “Main and Hastings” intersection of ocean currents. He mentions one could cut their engines and float, and you would be able to hear the blow from various whales in the area, though we were not as lucky. The waters were fairly calm and quiet. We could see Harbour Porpoises every so often, but no Humpbacks and no Orcas. It was a neat place to listen and float around. If I have not mentioned it yet, I love being out on the water.
After about ten minutes or so hoping something would show up it was time to head back home.
On the way back, we came across a buoy just off of Point Roberts with Stellar Sea Lions resting on it. As we passed by slowly we must of have disturbed them as they barked and slide into the ocean and swam away.
Got back to the Crescent Beach Marina just as the sun was setting below the horizon. It was a great time out on the water; even if we didn’t get to see Orcas, we did get to see Humpbacks, and I’ve wanted to see Humpbacks again. The last time I saw Humpbacks in the wild was on an Alaskan cruise many years ago.
Our tour started at 1pm and we didn’t get back to the marina until 7pm. We had about a 1-hour stay at Mayne Island.
If you are looking for a great time out on the water in search of marine wildlife, I would recommend booking a tour with Captain Andrew and his White Rock Sea Tours.
The cost of the experience with White Rock Sea Tours is $175/person. Currently for the month of October, BC Residents can go for $99/person. You can check out more about the White Rock Sea Tours Whale Watching tour here as well as the other services Andrew offers.
You can find White Rock Sea Tours on the following Social Media places:
Facebook: White Rock Sea Tours