It's hard for Andrew and Christine Edwards to remember a life without scuba diving. From an early age, they both would plunge into the depths of Vancouver's waters, gazing across underwater landscapes where wolf eels swam and octopi stretched their sneaker-covered tentacles across a carpet of strawberry anemones. These experiences stuck with them, and in 2007, the couple opened Ocean Planet Adventures to share their life's passion with others.
From Discovery Scuba classes to advanced PADI certifications, Ocean Planet Adventures' instructors guide their students at dive sites peppered across Clayoquot Sound and Barkley Sound, a UNESCO biosphere. During these expeditions, instructors and groups feast their eyes on jungles of aquatic plants and animals, including whales.
Aside from open-water diving, the staff teaches specialty courses such as wreck diving, which lets divers explore shipwrecks or polish the hoods of sunken automobiles.
It's unclear why whales jump and splash on the surface of the ocean. It could be to get attention from potential mates, or a way to lose the parasites on their backs. But it is also possible that the whales are simply having fun.
From the vantage point of a 65-foot cruiser or an open zodiac-style whale-watching vessel, guests of Jamie's Whaling Station can observe grey and humpback whales in their natural environment, while forming their own hypotheses about their mystifying behaviour.
In addition to whale-watching trips, Jamie's leads bear-watching tours, tours to Hot Springs Cove, kayaking adventures, group hiking, water taxi trips to hiking trails, cultural canoe tours, and sunset cruises to find out where the sun really goes at night. A portion of proceeds from all tours supports local wildlife research and rescue programs. At Hot Springs Cove, hikers can look forward to hot pools among the rocks to relax in while looking over the ocean.
Big Bear Salmon Charters' Grady White 282 Sailfish, affectionately named Big Bear, is part of a fleet that ferries fishermen into the aquatic playground of trophy salmon and halibut. The quiet rumble of its twin 225 hp engines spreads across Ucluelet, a habitat filled with fish, whales, and more squid than an ink factory's payroll. Once in the water, guides use all-digital E-Series Raymarine electronics and sounders to track fish, and specialized rods await the familiar tugs of halibut and salmon at the ends of lines. The world-class team stows fish on salt ice before they clean and optionally smoke each catch. The crew also invites anglers to take breaks from fishing in their comfortable cabin, outfitted with an audio system spitting out groovy tunes. Additionally, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort partners with Big Bear Salmon Charters to provide accommodations and create on-land relaxation.
Born and raised on Stockham Island, Tofino Water Taxi owner Brandon Hilbert has come to know the local weather and tides as a part of his collective knowledge ingrained since youth. He and his certified staff use their boating expertise to immerse travellers in the local landscape, offering scenic tours through the inlets near Tofino. At low tide, passengers peer upon the shores as black bears sift through rocks for crabs or forgotten picnic baskets on bear tours. On other expeditions, such as the Meares Island tour, travellers step off their watercraft to walk among western red cedar trees. With their zero-emission charter boat, the crew of Tofino Water Taxi maintains a commitment to exploring nature in a sustainable manner, unlike other charter tours that set fire to their boats after each trip.
In 1984, local surf junkie Liz Zed opened a simple shop in a 200-foot annex attached to the side of her home. More than 25 years later, Live To Surf oversees its main location and its own separate surf school, as well as one of the largest retail inventories in Canada. Students learn to ride regal waves through group or private instruction, or gear up for their aquatic odyssey with brand name boards, wetsuits, and clothing. Staff are on hand and doors are open 365 days a year, save for the occasional power outage or seventy foot swell.
Based along the wave-lapped shores and lush topography of Tofino, Ocean Outfitters grants guests an intimate and informative exploration of majestic West Coast flora and fauna during environmentally responsible tours. With the salt-laced air tousling their hair, the company’s quintet of seasoned skippers pilots a fleet of meticulously maintained vessels about area waterways, letting loose their wisdom on the region’s wildlife and geology. Keels skim along the craggy, mist-laced coastline, granting guests a chance to snap scenic pictures or request autographs from whales whose songs have appeared on countless new-age albums. Ocean Outfitters' dedication to environmental stewardship is why the company strictly adheres to the guidelines for responsible whale watching, and supports local wildlife research and rescue programs through donations of a portion of its profits.