Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours is 100% owned by the Xwémalhkwu (Homalco) First Nation and the land you will visit is the traditional territory of Xwémalhkwu First Peoples. We offer half-day and full-day boat tours from Campbell River, B.C. For questions about our tours check the FAQ section below for more information or contact us.
We’re 100% Indigenous-owned and the only operator in the area that brings to life a truly unique First Nation experience from dock-to-dock.
We have been in operation spanning two decades, inviting guests to experience big iconic Canadian wildlife and supernatural landscapes through the eyes and stories of the Northern Coast Salish people while on the traditional lands of the Homalco First Nation along Bute Inlet.
Our tours are uniquely personal, emotionally compelling, and truly authentic. You’ll bear witness to the powerful stories of connection to the land and respect for all living things.
The cultural connection that was almost lost to Homalco people is continuing to experience revitalization and you can experience it by listening to the stories, legends, and cultural beliefs that span back through millennia.
While on our People, Water, Land tour you will have a chance to weave with cedar – the Tree of Life. You will hear the traditional Coast Salish language spoken by our guides as they welcome you to the Homalco territory in the culturally-based tour program.
Our Whales, Wildlife & Culture tour integrates big marine mammals and exploration of the Salish Sea while learning about traditional place names.
The Great Bears of Bute tour integrates with the Homalco Indigenous culture and you will hear stories, Indian legends as well as enjoying grizzly bears & wildlife viewing opportunities.
On the Great Bears of Bute tour, the Orford River and Algard Creek channels provide salmon spawning grounds with different viewing locations that we use depending on where the bears are active. The following information offers what to expect in a TYPICAL year (note that climate change is having a significant impact on weather and bear behaviour, and this is our best interpretation in constantly changing conditions).
- The month of August has the hottest, most pleasant days and grizzlies are moving from up high into the area
- Until early September bears are mostly foraging for grasses, berries and shellfish as they wait for the salmon to begin moving from the mouth of Orford Bay and up the rivers to spawn
- From September and onward bears are hunting for salmon in the rivers
- September typically has the highest number of bears, and is also the busiest time for visitor volume. The weather begins to adjust into our annual period of rain which identifies BC’s Coastal Temperate Rainforest
- October offers intimate, quiet and yet spectacular fall bear viewing in spite of shorter days and more variable weather.
Our experienced Indigenous guides know the area very well and will help identify wildlife through various bear viewing towers from which you can view the bears comfortably.
Please keep in mind that these are wild animals and we cannot guarantee the number of bears to be seen.
We do not provide accommodation, but we are happy to make a few suggestions based on your needs and travel.
- Comfort Inn & Suites: 5-minute walk
- Coast Discovery Inn: 2-minute walk
- Dolphins Resort: 15-minute drive
- Old House Hotel & Spa: 40-minute drive
- Anchor Inn & Suites: 5-minute drive
To search for more accommodations to suit your needs we highly recommend TripAdvisor for great reviews.
Our tour season is from May 1 to October 31:
Salish Sea Whale Watching: May 1 – October 15
Spring Bears & Whales: May 1 – June 30
People Water Land June 1 – September 24
Great Bears of Bute August 15 – October 31
Deluxe Grizzlies & Culture August 15 – September 24
If a tour is unavailable, please don’t feel discouraged. Contact us and we will do our best to make arrangements to accommodate your tour!
We also offer Private Charters and Water Taxi services. Please call 250.923.0602 for more info.
We do not guarantee wildlife because that would be unfair to wild animals. We will, however, do our absolute best to find wildlife for you! Some days we see everything, other days it’s a bit more of a “hunt” to find them.
For the Great Bears of Bute tour:
Compared to other bear viewing options, Orford Bay in Bute Inlet (where the tours take place) has geography that is very good for seeing bears up close and often in high numbers due to a short salmon spawning run along the river and being located in a narrow valley that concentrates the bears into a relatively small space. Grizzly bears are never guaranteed but we will do our best to find them for you.
*Please bring your own reusable, filled, water bottles. We will have a jug of water on board for refills* These are in efforts to reduce single use plastics
Tours beyond 6 hours: Include lunch, snacks and beverages
- Spring Bears & Whales
- Great Bears of Bute
- Deluxe Grizzlies & Culture
4 and 5 hours: Include snacks and beverages
- Salish Sea Whale Watching
- People Water Land
Private charter lunches available upon request
Please park in the Tyee Plaza Shopping Centre parking lot (free all day parking) , but take care to not park in 1-hour areas. 3-hour areas are okay – you will not be towed.
Tours operate rain or shine but safety is our top priority so high winds and extreme weather would likely cause the tour to be cancelled. In an event where we cannot operate tours in unforeseen circumstances, we offer our guests a choice to choose another tour date of equal value or receive a full refund.
Orford Bay dock is at full capacity and unfortunately, we cannot welcome more boats into the area. If you would like to join our tour we depart from the Coast Marina in Campbell River.
Salish Sea Whale Watching 2 years
Spring Bears & Whales 4 years
People Water Land 10 years
Great Bears of Bute 10 years
Deluxe Grizzlies & Culture 10 years
Sorry! Our tours are not wheelchair accessible due to the nature of the environment we operate in. If you have any disability requirements and you are unsure of our safety practices, please contact us to discuss your inquiries before booking.
Homalco Tours requires that our guests are to be moderately fit enough to get on and off a vessel, coach, and dock ramp. Tours are not recommended for people with back problems.
People, Water, Land tour includes 1 km of interpretive walking on trails that may have uneven ground (appropriate footwear is recommended).
We have a no risk, 100% FULL REFUND if cancelled:
- 48 hours before your scheduled tour time for all regular tours (Salish Sea Whale Watching; Spring Bears & Whales; People Water Land; Great Bears of Bute; Deluxe Grizzlies & Culture)
- 30 days before your scheduled Private Charter
You have an option to sign a waiver at the time of your booking, electronically, or when you arrive. We recommend doing it before your arrival to quicken the check-in process.
Please note: All waivers are required to be read and signed before the tour begins. No exceptions!