The Pacific Rim Whale Festival marks the opening of the region’s renowned whale-watching season and the annual migration of more than 20,000 Grey whales on their 13,000-kilometre journey from the waters of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula to the Bering Sea. Known for the abundance of Grey, Humpback and Orca sightings year-round, the west coast of Vancouver Island is one of the world’s premier whale-watching destinations with more than a dozen operators based in Tofino and Ucluelet, conducting boat tours from March through October.
Tofino shows its love for whales.
Photo by Jeremy Koreski
Twenty-nine years ago a group of concerned citizens wanted to create awareness about the island's pristine eco-system, the then endangered Grey whale population, and coastal traditions. They formed what is known now as the Pacific Rim Whale Society. Although the Grey Whales' numbers have increased, the celebration continues. Festivities each spring are centreed around the migration of these great ocean giants — from Mexico to the Artic. You can see the whales gliding past from the beautiful shores of Vancouver Island.
Purchase your festival button, which have been drawn by local children. Buttons are $5 each and grant access to the by-donation events.
Saturday, March 14, Tofino
10 a.m. - Parade of Whales and Wonders
There’s nothing like a small-town parade where local businesses create floats, cruising down Campbell Street and kids ride along on their bikes. Free admission.
Exclusive offers are available during the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. Vancouver Island is yours to explore
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4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Sea Change Panel and Mix & Mingle at Jamie’s Rainforest Inn
The Sea Change Panel was introduced in 2011 during the Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s 25th anniversary. The panel brings together a small group of local residents and visiting experts to discuss current marine issues, before a live audience. Admission by donation, or purchase a button to get in on all the whale festival events.
Monday, March 16
9 a.m. - Blessing of the Boats - First Street Dock in Tofino
A local pastor blesses a procession of vessels, including a variety of whale watching and commercial boats — a true West Coast experience. Admission by donation, or purchase a button to get in on all the whale festivities.
The Pacific Rim Whale Festival coincides with the beginning of whale-watching season.
Photo by Jeremy Koreski
10 a.m. - Echachis Whale Hunting Village Tour with T’ashii Paddle School and Jamie’s Whaling Station
Visit Echachis Island, whale hunting village site of the Tla-o-qui-aht people. On Echachis, Tsimka Martin takes guests on a hike across the beautiful island and shares the way of life of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations people and their relationship with the ocean, including the whale hunt.
Echachis means “rising” in the Tla-o-qui-aht language. It’s a place of waiting for whales as well as a place to bring the whales to the beach to be divided among the people.
Book the limited-offering trip here $99 per person
Wednesday, March 18 & Friday, March 20
Remote Passages Marine Excursions is offering a variety of whale-watching tours with on-board experts, including marine mammalogist Wendy Szanizlo and naturalist, artist and avid bird watcher Pete Clarkson. Admission TBD.
There are dozens of whale watching tour in the Tofino and Ucluelet area.
Photo by Sander Jain
Thursday, March 19
Barnacle Blues - Black Rock Oceanfront Resort (Ucluelet)
This yearly blues evening features performers Tiller’s Folly! Admission TBD.
Sunday, March 22
Chowder Chowdown - Ucluelet Community Centre
In this annual tradition, chefs from Tofino and Ucluelet compete in a cook off to make the top chowder on the West Coast. Admission TBD.
For more detail and the schedule of activities please visit the official event page
Don't forget to enter to win our whale of a ski trip! Including flights, surfing, whale watching, skiing and more.
Here’s a 72-hour trip guideline for when you want a mini-holiday that helps you remember there really is a season between winter and summer.
Share this festival with your pals so they too can get excited about west coast culture.