Every May through October is a true feast for the eyes, as the Vancouver Island Black Bear comes out of winter hibernation to enjoy the wilderness around Tofino. Vancouver Island has the highest density of black bears in North America, and a total estimated population of 12,000. Although bears are sometimes seen roadside, which we agree can be thrilling, the best and safest way to marvel at this mammal in its natural habitat is on a Tofino bear watching tour.
Unlike whale watching, which ventures out on the open ocean's waves, bear watching is done from a covered vessel with a viewing deck, or open zodiac boat on the calm inside waters in and around Tofino Inlet. This is where black bears can be witnessed at low tide, as they approach the shore on their quest for nutritious shore crabs by turning over beach boulders and rocks. The black bear has been practicing the 100-mile diet before it became fashionable, indulging in the best of Tofino's local delights, including salmon, berries, and the aforementioned crab. Tofino bear watching tours have a typical duration of two to three hours, and are available through most wildlife adventure outfitters who also offer whale watching. Although the Vancouver Island Black Bear is typically shy and solitary (in contrast to the aggressive brown Grizzly, who does not reside on Vancouver Island), it does remain a bear and must be admired from afar, ideally on a Tofino bear watching tour.
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