About People, Water, Land

COVID-19 UPDATE:  Booking now for 2021 tours with full COVID safety procedures in place.

Our full day whale watching and cultural tour incorporates the best of marine wildlife and First Nations culture in an immersive, hands-on experience. The journey to Orford Bay in Bute Inlet takes you to the traditional home of the χwe̓malhkwu (Homalco) First Peoples. The water and land of Bute provided the Homalco with transportation, food, shelter, clothing and medicine. Join us to search for Qʷ̓ənɛs (whales) and uncover the stories of ǰɛnxʷ (Salmon), the χwe̓malhkwu people and much more. You may even see χawgəs (Grizzly Bear) or Mexaɬ (Black Bear) from a wildlife viewing tower overlooking a picturesque estuary.

Depart Discovery Harbour Marina to search for humpback whales, orcas (killer whales), porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, otters, bald eagles and a variety of marine birds. Your arrival in Orford Bay leads to an interpretive discovery walk through the forest. The history of Orford’s use as a winter gathering place by Homalco will come alive while discovering the traditional plants used for food, medicines, clothing and shelter. Look for bear signs such as scratching trees and day beds while learning about the Orford Salmon Enhancement Hatchery that is supported through tour conservation fees. Climb the viewing platform known as the Estuary Tower to search for visiting Bears and Roosevelt Elk.

This exclusive, small group experience takes place aboard new, custom-designed tour boats. The 12 passenger Homalco Tour vessels are unlike any other. Our landing craft design provides the ability to access beaches on full day tours, while also providing more experience options for guests with TWO seats for every passenger!

  • 12 Comfort Seats – luxury seating inside the warm and comfortable cabin, plus
  • 12 Adventure Seats – fresh air seating with clear views outside on the front deck.

The seating flexibility also delivers unmatched COVID-friendly spacing opportunities for added safety while on-board. All guests who wish to ride outside have access to warm and dry safety clothing that includes Mustang Survival Suits and Floater Jackets commonly used on Zodiac-style tours.

Your arrival begins at our new retail location in Campbell River 1344 Island Hwy, located at the Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre, right beside the Coast Community Credit Union.

Your arrival in Orford Bay marks the beginning of the next part of the adventure that includes an interpretive walk and exploring the estuary by boat. The history of Orford as a traditional winter gathering place by Homalco will come alive and include discussions of how the Orford Salmon Enhancement Hatchery has contributed to increasing the population of traditional fish in the rivers.

The tour continues toward the estuary. Guides will point out bear signs such as scratching trees and day beds. You will also be taken on an ethnobotany journey that explores how local plants were used traditionally to create medicines, clothing, and shelter. Climb the viewing platform known as the Estuary Tower to search for wildlife, including visiting bears who come down to feed on the tender shoots of the sedges. You will view the net pens and a guide will discuss the net pens that hold broodstock for the salmon hatchery.

Back out in Orford Bay, you’ll board the boat to explore the estuary for a closer look from the water.  Guides will search for black bears, grizzly bears, Roosevelt elk, otters, beavers, and more. Glide past ancient pictographs high on the rock walls and discuss the net pens that hold broodstock for the salmon hatchery.

The journey back to Campbell River continues the search for denizens of the sea, while providing inspiring vistas from which to reflect on your adventure.

 

 

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Tour Details

  • 8-9 hour tour with APPROXIMATE times of: 2 hours by covered boat in each direction to/from Orford Bay; 2.5 hours of interpretive walking on flat ground; 1 hour exploring wildlife from a bear viewing tower.
  • Guests must be physically fit enough to walk 2-3 km
  • Heated and covered boat on return journey from Campbell River to Orford Bay
  • Only 12 guests maximum per day
  • Lunch & refreshments provided
  • Washroom facilities available on the boat
  • Minimum age: 10 years old
  • Start time: 8:15 am
  • Cancel up to 48 hours prior to tour date for full refund. Fees apply with less than 48 hours notice.
  • All times and tour components subject to change based on safety considerations

What to Bring

  • Durable shoes
  • Warm layered clothing and rain gear
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Curiosity

An Amazing Experience

What an amazing experience and all credit to the Homalco First Nation and their outstanding stewardship of this area and its natural resources. Encounters were plentiful and truly spectacular.

Jonathan M TripAdvisor.com

Book Now - Only a $20 Deposit

What People Are Saying On TripAdvisor

An Amazing Experience

What an amazing experience and all credit to the Homalco First Nation and their outstanding stewardship of this area and its natural resources. Encounters were plentiful and truly spectacular.

Jonathan M TripAdvisor.com

An Experience I Won't Forget

Everything about this tour seriously surpassed expectations. The scenery of the location where you visit is something on its own. It's worth going just for that. It is an experience I won't ever forget. Thank-you so much for allowing us a glimpse into your incredible world!

Sophie C TripAdvisor.com

Trip of a Lifetime

This is the trip of a lifetime. Along the way we saw humpback whales, seals, sealions, bald eagles and grizzly bears! The tour was fantastic, all of the tour leaders were great and extremely knowledgable.

Diane S TripAdvisor.com

Deposits & Conservation Fee

STRESS-FREE RESERVATIONS!

  1. When booking – we only take a small deposit of $20 per person
  2. 60 days before tour – a 50% deposit is applied for the entire tour
  3. 14 days before tour – the remaining balance is charged

A friendly reminder payment updates will be sent out via email, Be sure to check your junk folder, just in case

You can cancel your tour at any time up to 48 hours before for a FULL refund. Stress free!

A $17 per guest Conservation Fee will be applied during the booking process. The conservation fee supports the Orford fish hatchery in rebuilding native wild salmon populations to enhance healthy bear habitat, while also protecting the indigenous roots, culture and food source of the Homalco First Nation.