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We pride ourselves on our high level service, and the quality of our tours is evident in the things our passengers say about us:

"On our holiday, we were at Disneyland, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and took the train trip through the Rockies. They were all super, but this was the hi-lite of our trip."

– The Edmiston Family (from Perth, Western Australia)

"I am writing to you to let you know that me and my family had a wonderful time on your July 01 (am) expedition. It was a life long dream come true for me to see the whales, they are so magnificent and beautiful in person. Your knowledge and expertise made the trip even more wonderful. Thanks again for making my dream come true and making every moment count on the water with "L-Pod". I had originally booked a trip in Victoria but was recommended that I change to Sooke Coastal Explorations and thanks for fitting us all in at the last moment. I am so happy that I did. Everyone in Sooke was so wonderful. Thank you once again and best of luck to you in the future and keep up the great work!!!! You have the best job in the world."

– Angie H. (from Tooele, UT)

Sooke News Mirror

A Whale of a show. - June 10th, 2008

Four years of living on the West Coast and the closest thing I’ve done to whale watching was scooting over to the side of the ferry where a pod was passing. Unless you count gawking at the animals in an aquarium, which is totally unlike seeing them in the wild.

Russ Nicks, owner and operator of Sooke Coastal Explorations, made whale watching his job two years ago when he took over the local business. The Sooke native knows the waters from working for the coast guard. His long-time interest in marine life has made him something of a coastal expert.

He’s also a bit of an activist.

“It’s hard to spend every day with the animals without wanting to protect them,” he said, explaining that by bringing people close to the whales he hopes it will help others see the importance of protecting them.

Nicks took me out recently on his high speed Zodiac. The water was calm and there was a transient pod from California to check out.

In the next month several local pods will join together and create a “super pod” making for prime viewing. Nicks said at some points last year he’d see five kilometres of whale fins bobbing though the water.

On my trip there were two to three animals travelling together. But that wasn’t all we looked at.

Nicks’ trips are three hours long and because he complies with the ethical standards of the Whale Watching Operators Association, he doesn’t spend more than 30 minutes with a group of whales or come closer than 90 metres to the animals with his engine running, so as not to irritate them.

Even without driving right up to the whales, sometimes they’ll pop up next to the boat. Nicks can tell which way they are swimming and positions the Zodiac where they are likely to swim. He said last season a whale jumped right up beside his boat and splashed everybody. I wasn’t so lucky and just watched them from a distance.

When we weren’t following the pod, Nicks gunned the Zodiac around to different wildlife or coastal features. He pointed out seals, sea lions, bald eagles and Race Rocks Island.

He’s full of fun facts, from how the whale pods are identified to how fast sea kelp grows.

His tours for adults and run twice daily until September.

Testimonial from Sooke News Mirror

Visitors appreciate Sooke business

I’m just writing to say thanks for the story about Russ Nicks and Sooke Coastal Explorations.?

We moved to the island last fall, and we try to keep our money in the community as best we can.? Over Victoria Day weekend we had a friend visit from the U.S. and were looking for something to do that would be new to all of us.?

We decided on whale watching and opted to book with Russ’ company, figuring we would save the hour drive, and gas, into Victoria.? We sure were glad we chose Russ!?

He picks up from three locations in Sooke, one of which was just 15 minutes from our house, really is full of facts about the area, and we had an amazing three- hour tour which, thankfully, did not end up like the SS Minnow due to his expertise at handling that Zodiac boat of his.?

Even though he stated we might not see whales, he did come through on the day of the trip and we enjoyed what felt like an hour watching a transient pod of killer whales just off the coast of Victoria.? Not to be overlooked for the fun factor is simply the exhilirating ride on the water to and from the viewing area, where ever that happens to be on the day of your adventure.?

We have been recommending his whale watching service 100 per cent to anyone who may be looking for an easy adventure and are proud that he is based in Sooke.? I even went so far as to blog about him and include a link to his website.? Good job Russ!

- Doug Gradecki