A city is like a walk-through history book with the stories scrawled along its streets and architecture. The sage-like guides of Hidden Dragon use their knowledge of that landscape to share the stories of Victoria. With that goal in mind, their menu of walking tours entices guests to join them through keystone locales that speak to the indigenous, British, and Chinese cultures that define the city, as well as the paranormal tales that comprise its folklore.
The Crown Victoria Native Island tour explores the indigenous people and British colonists that once inhabited the area. Guests walk past the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel situated beside the waters of Inner Harbour, totem poles, and the quaint historic shops of Old Town. The New World Old Chinatown tour inspired the Hidden Dragon name with journeys through the museums, courtyards, and concealed myths of Victoria’s Chinese community. For an alternative history of the region, guides divulge the stories of ghosts, witches, and demons found in the rooming houses and alleys of Dark Victoria.
With the waves of Victoria Harbour’s Selkirk Waters lapping just below their headquarters, Switch Bridge Tours’ staff leads bicycle and kayak tours of Victoria and Vancouver Island’s waterways. The business’s proximity to the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails facilitates tours on frequently tuned-up bikes that venture into the Cowichan Valley or along the Saanich Peninsula. Kayaks cease their giant kazoo impressions long enough to cut through the Tod Inlet and the Inner Harbour on beginner or advanced tours. Each experienced guide is certified in First Aid and CPR.
Docked inside British Columbia's former Supreme Court building in Bastion Square, the Maritime Museum of BC provides visitors with a bridge to the province's past through an affluent collection of nautical and legal treasures. More than 35,000 unique artifacts—plus 40,000 photographs—join forces to ferry eyes through history, including exhibits that showcase notable pirates, explorers, heritage vessels, and shipwrecks.
A fleet of three iconic sailboats has also dropped anchor beneath the museum's roof, and despite its age and creaky joints from years of playing pond hockey, the oldest operating birdcage elevator in North America still totes guests from floor to floor. Aside from its seafaring trove, the museum also runs public and school programs on topics such as immigration, pirates, women at sea, and the Canadian Coast Guard.
The Salish Sea hosts one of the largest killer-whale gatherings on the planet. From its three large pods of fish-eating resident orcas to the pods of transient orcas that hunt for larger mammalian game, the Salish's waters often churn with a flurry of activity. Five Star's captains give passengers a glimpse of this underwater entertainment by charting courses through the sea's whale-filled waters atop stable catamarans outfitted with four separate viewing platforms. From these lookouts, guests may spot the black and white behemoths, as well as mink, gray, and humpback whales and other marine life. Between sightings, crews keep parties comfortable within the heated cabin by supplying them with complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, and liquefied Herman Melville novels.