A Most Incredible Day on West Vancouver Island

I’m so excited to finally be sharing this “most incredible day”!  Seriously, it was almost a burden trying to get the preceding posts out… while traveling… when I was so anxious to get to this one. I hope you all enjoy the day as much as I did! (Probably not possible.)

We left the dock in Bamfield around 8am on August 14th, heading toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We were rounding the southern end of Vancouver Island… with only a few more days on the water… after traveling the “wild west side” of the island for more than a month.

No surprises as we cruised out through the southern end of Barkley Sound. With the mountains of Vancouver Island off our stern we rounded Cape Beale and headed into open water… following the coastline at a southeast angle at this point.

Morning light in Barkley Sound

Barkley Sound and Vancouver Island

Hovering mist amongst the islets

Crashing waves


Another sailboat drew our attention toward the shoreline. Immediately I noticed numerous spouts coming out of the water beyond them. Whales!! And amazingly close to shore! Humpbacks, as it turned out, and they were either enjoying the plentiful food supply, or just happily swimming around in the kelp beds in water that didn’t seem deep enough for them. They stayed, and entertained us for a long time. The shore line, the light, the whales… and their spouts that seemed to linger for a long time in the damp morning air… made me giddy with the imagery. (Watch for hidden figures in the spouts! 😳)

Spouting Humpbacks

Humpback Whale spouts

Notice the tail… he’s swimming on his side!

Humpback swimming amongst the kelp

Humpback covered with kelp

Humpback swims along an incredible shoreline

Multiple Humpbacks just off-shore


What a scene!! What a gift we were given to be enjoying this activity to such a spectacular background!

Humpback draped in kelp

Sensual woman in the mist? My Dad used to blow smoke rings… did this whale have that talent???

Humpback just off shore

Multiple Humpbacks

Sea Lion joins in the fun!!!


Mist along the shoreline

Humpback off the rocky shore of Vancouver Island

Humpback in Kelp bed


We finally left the Humpbacks behind to continue on down the shore. In no time I spotted a waterfall… and of course the scene changed as we went by…

Waterfall on the shoreline of Vancouver Island

Now a double waterfall!

Incredible Vancouver Island coastline!

I love this coast in the misty, moody light

Wow! Just wow!


Not to be left out! A Humpback joins the scene!!! This is incredible!

Humpback and waterfall

And the scene changes as we continue south


And the shoreline changes a bit too…

More shoreline


And suddenly I see one sole figure on a high rock. A Sea Lion… looks like a bull. Why there? Why alone? Lost a battle with a larger bull? He looks like he’s in serious contemplation to me. Time for a different gig? 🤣😂

Solitary Sea Lion

Incredible scene which happens to include a Sea Lion


Moving on… and there’s another Humpback off shore! And then another waterfall!

Humpback fluke!

Waterfall flows into the ocean

Waterfall along southern Vancouver Island

Arched rock on shore


A short while later we heard what has become a familiar sound… Sea Lions. In this case though, it was quite a commotion and I wondered if they might be under attack by Orca. Apparently not, as we found them playfully swimming along.

A small “raft” of Sea Lions

Sea Lion


And we come upon another ruckus on the water… a huge flock of gulls… apparently dining. What’s interesting is that there’s only one adult… apparently supervising these juveniles.

Juvenile Sea Gulls in a feeding frenzy

Common Murres


Judging by the large groups, and the apparent joy these creatures were exhibiting, I’m guessing the food supply for all was in great supply. As I was contemplating this, I spy… the creme de la creme… Orca!!!!!  I’d literally been standing at the ready with camera in hand for several hours at this point, and not in the least bit tired. It was early afternoon and I already felt so elated at what we’d seen… and I spy a large dorsal fin of what can only be a large male Orca. We turned and slowed, and kept a respectable distance while I played “whale paparazzi”. He was a superstar!


OMG! Big beautiful male Orca

As if to pose, he gives me a different angle…

Orca surfacing


All of a sudden he turned straight toward us and made a bee-line for our port side. Literally dove directly under us… dorsal fin barely skimming our hull! He resurfaced immediately on our starboard side. Wow! Wow!!! He was literally too close to get shots of him directly under the boat, but one image has enough detail (and angle) to show just how close he was. What a thrill!!

Orca turns our direction

…and dives directly under Summer Breeze!

…and resurfaces right on the other side!

Male Orca continues to swim around us.

Big arch


The big guy continued on up the coast eventually… only to be followed by the pod! There were Orca all around us… some close and some far… following the leader, no doubt. (Too spread out to photograph as a group.)

Female Orca glides by…


As we continued southeast along the coast we were constantly fascinated by the shoreline. Sea caves, waterfalls, and areas where the two are combined during wetter seasons. (Although, after the almost continual rain we went through on our way south, a wetter season is hard to imagine.)

And another waterfall…

Sea caves

Sea caves surrounded by wet or water stained rock

The last of the shoreline before entering Port San Juan inlet


What a day, eh???? Without a doubt my favorite of the summer! We experienced the entire west coast pretty thoroughly, with some awesome days, and some… not so much. I don’t know that I’d do the entire coast again, but it would take little to convince me to go back to this special corner of Vancouver Island!

The day was magical! Intense! Fortifying! It wasn’t quite a wrap on our summer yet, but it was a great way to top if off. We docked in Port Renfrew that night, in the midst of some sort of fishing derby. Our next stop would be Sooke, and then across the border to Roche Harbor to check in with customs. Somewhere between we would be boarded by the US Coast Guard! 😳 Good story! You’ll have to come back for that!

One thought on “A Most Incredible Day on West Vancouver Island

  1. Loved every moment you are talking and taking pictures! Love the sea creatures! Colors were beautiful! Great job with your camera! 👍😘

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