|Nanaimo is home to a large fall and winter population of sea lions that take up residence on the log booms in the city's harbour. Cruises offer a close-up look at these enormous sunbathers.
Charters in Campbell River offer eyeball-to-eyeball encounters with spawning salmon in the Campbell River. Adventurers don wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins and float with the fish in the fall. Guided wildlife viewing trips can take you to Killer Whales in Johnstone Strait, Grizzly Bears in Knight Inlet, seabird colonies at Mitlenatch Island, and Sea Lions in Seymour Narrows.
Parksville and Qualicum Beach celebrate the arrival of thousands of Brant geese every spring during the three-day Brant Festival.
Thousands of shorebirds migrate through the Tofino-Long Beach area twice a year, every spring and fall. The local mudflats and extensive beaches are their final chance to feed and rest before flying to Arctic breeding grounds, or south to overwintering areas. Peak numbers of shorebirds occur in late April to May, and late August to September.
The Elk River Valley is home to many large mammals. Visitors should watch for Roosevelt elk, black bear, black-tailed deer and cougar.
Botanical Beach Provincial Park-Sea urchins, anemones, chitons and barnacles are just a few of the marine organisms that call Botanical Beach home. Look offshore and watch for marine mammals such as seals, orcas or grey whales.
At St. John Point, Helliwell Provincial Park provides pleasant walking trails with panoramic vistas and sealions, seals, porpoise and killer whales may be seen. Garry oaks and an old growth Douglas fir forest with nesting Bald Eagles will add to your enjoyment of this visit.
On Quadra Island one is likely to see small blacktailed deer, raccoon, river otter, harbour seal and sea-lion. Watch for pods of killer whales in the surrounding waters. Kingfishers and the great blue heron can be seen along the coves as well as cormorants, grebes, ducks, scoters and mergansers. The more elusive peregrine falcon and snowy owl have been spotted on the north part of the Island.