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British Columbia Orcas & Grizzlies Sailing

  1. 2022
    Wednesday, August 3, 2022 to Tuesday, August 9, 2022
    Tour Duration: 
    7 days
    Tour Price:
     $5,250 CAD, $4,330 USD
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Port McNeill, BC
    +5% GST and $100 Sustainability Fee are additional.
    Number of Persons Limit: 
  • Spectacular orca (killer whale) and humpback whale watching
  • Opportunities to view black bear and grizzly bears
  • Large number of bald eagles and colorful seabirds
  • Beautiful scenery

At the northern end of Vancouver Island lies a maze of islands and waterways, full of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and the history and traditions of the Kwakwaka’wakw people (Kwakiutl). The Pacific Ocean funnels into the protected waters of Johnstone Strait creating strong tidal currents, and incredibly nutrient-rich waters. Millions of salmon, returning to spawn in the mainland rivers, must converge to pass through the Strait. Groups of orca (or killer whales) hunt the salmon in the passages.

Johnstone Strait is the best place in the world to see orca / killer whales. Visit Alert Bay and Village Island, see diverse marine mammals and view grizzly bears up Knight Inlet!


Itinerary Hide Full Itinerary

On all our voyages we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible to take advantage of wildlife sightings, weather and tides, and the interests of the group. This sample itinerary describes a typical 7-day trip, however, activities may occur in a different order or be substituted by suitable alternatives. 

Day 1 - Our Orcas & Grizzlies sailing tour starts and finishes in Port McNeill, BC. Guests will meet in the morning at the top of the Cab’s Fuel Dock on the Port McNeill waterfront. Upon boarding “Island Odyssey”, cabins will be assigned and an introductory safety briefing will be completed. 

We have chosen Port McNeill as the starting point for this voyage because it is the closest port to the core killer whale area. We expect to discover our first pod or group of whales the first afternoon. You will agree that orcas are one of the most exciting marine mammals to watch as we see them foraging for salmon, spyhopping, and breaching (leaping clear of the water). Guests will learn about the behaviour of these fascinating creatures, listen to them calling on the ship’s underwater microphone, and learn how to identify individual animals. Each night we anchor in a secluded anchorage. 

Days 2-6 - Our focus these days will be on the waters of Johnstone Strait, the core whale watching area. In addition to multiple encounters with orca, we expect some wonderful experiences with humpback whales also. We have bveen gifted with visits from super pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins and Dall’s porpoise often come over to the boat to play on the yacht's bow wave. 

We will visit the modern Kwakwaka’wakw community of Alert Bay to visit the U’Mista Cultural Centre and see a fascinating collection of potlatch masks. If we have a good wind, we expect to raise the sails and enjoy the silence and beauty of sailing. There will be time to explore the protected waters using our stable, sea kayaks that we carry onboard. 

At the entrance to Knight Inlet is the abandoned Kwakwaka’wakw village of Mimquimlees. With permission from the local native band we will explore the old village to discover fallen totem poles and a rich heritage. With a good low tide, we may explore the shore for different species of colourful sea stars, anemone, and algae. We often hike into the coastal forest to see big trees and learn about the forest plants.

Day 7 - Mid morning we return to Port McNeill to complete our voyage. Participants can catch afternoon flights back to Vancouver. 


Featured Wildlife
Ship Info

Island Odyssey

The Island Odyssey is the sister-ship to Island Roamer. Originally built as a luxurious private yacht in 1984, she completed a major renovation in 2003 to update the cabins and all safety systems on this 68 ketch. She features 8 private cabins (double occupancy), 3 heads with hot showers and a comfortable salon with a natural history library. On deck, the large deckhouse provides a comfortable spot to watch for wildlife. 

A certified Canadian Ministry of Transport passenger vessel, Island Odyssey has all of the safety equipment, electronic navigation aids, and features you would expect from a vessel of her standard. 

All of our cabins have adequate storage space for your bags, personal items and jackets. Coat hangers and life jackets are stowed in every cabin for your convenience. There is electricity in each room, so you can charge your camera batteries and enjoy a reading light as you relax in the evening.

We have 8 private cabins, based on double occupancy.  At the time of booking, you may request a type of cabin you would like - single berths or if you and your travelling partner prefer, a double berth cabin. Single travellers do not have the choice of the double berth cabin. Specific room bookings are up to the crew once you have arrived onboard the vessel.