Beaver Cove, near the community of Port Hardy, is the oldest known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island, circa 5850 BCE. For more than 8,000 years, Canada’s First Nations people have shared this wild coastal region with eagles, black bears, orca and salmon. After a long period of cultural repression, ancient traditions are again thriving as the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation preserves and celebrates their culture through art, dance, music, language and a sustainable day-to-day relationship with the natural world.

  • 1-2 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    DAY 1

    VISIT THE U’MISTA CULTURAL CENTRE & ATTEND A DANCE PERFORMANCE

    Founded in 1980, the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay was a groundbreaking initiative to house repatriated potlatch artifacts which had been seized by government during an earlier period of cultural repression. The Centre today is a world-class facility with museum exhibits and cultural education programs.

    See the next generation of Kwakwaka’wakw share their culture to educate the world about their ancient songs, dances, teachings and values. Witness traditional dances that connect their culture to the land, sky, and sea. The T’sasala Cultural Group holds performances in the ‘Namgis gukwdzi (big house). During the T’sasala Cultural Group performances is the only time that the Big House in Alert Bay is open to the public. Performances held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in July and August.

    Travel by ferry required.

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    DAY 2

    CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

    Connect with the Kwakwaka’wakw culture through an experience lead by First Nations guides in Alert Bay or Port Hardy. Weave sacred cedar bark, prepare salmon for barbequing in the traditional fashion, learn the spirituality of drums and join in the process of making one of your own, or get lost in the legends told through story, song and dance.

    Travel by ferry required.

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    1-2 Day Adventures - First Nations

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    Additional Activities

  • 3-5 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    DAY 1

    WILDLIFE & CULTURAL EXPEDITION DAY TOUR

    Combine cultural discoveries with world-class wildlife watching on an adventure into the heart of traditional First Nations territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw. Share the love of the local landscape and learn about the spiritual connection between the Kwakwaka’wakw people and the wildlife that call these waterways home. Tour departs from Telegraph Cove.

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    DAY 2

    CULTURAL DANCING & CIRCLE ISLAND TOUR

    See the next generation of Kwakwaka’wakw share their culture to educate the world about their ancient songs, dances, teachings and values. Witness traditional dances that connect their culture to the land, sky, and sea. The T’sasala Cultural Group holds performances in the ‘Namgis gukwdzi (big house). During the T’sasala Cultural Group performances is the only time that the Big House in Alert Bay is open to the public. Performances held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in July and August.

    Continue your exploration of Cormorant Island with a one-hour guided tour of Alert Bay. Your tour guide will show you culturally significant sites and share stories of related to these special places.

    Travel by ferry required.

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    DAY 3

    CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

    Connect with the Kwakwaka’wakw culture through an experience lead by First Nations guides in Alert Bay and Port Hardy. Weave sacred cedar bark, prepare salmon for barbequing in the traditional fashion, learn the spirituality of drums and join in the process of making one of your own, or get lost in the legends told through story, song and dance.

    Travel by ferry required.

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    DAY 4

    GRIZZLY BEARS OF THE WILD DAY TOUR

    Embark from Port McNeill on an intimate and immersive wildlife watching experience. Reconnect with nature and learn about First Nations culture in an all-in-one experience that combines respectful wildlife viewing with a sustainable tour of northern Vancouver Island and adjacent mainland coast.

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    DAY 5

    NAKWAKTO RAPIDS OR SCENIC BOAT & WILDLIFE TOUR

    Choose your own adventure: book a Nakwakto Rapids tour or a scenic boat & wildlife tour. Head to the Nakwakto Rapids, the fastest navigable tidal rapids on Earth, reaching speeds on an average of 14 knots and even peaking at 17 knots! When the ebb tides occur, millions of gallons of water passes through narrow channels and inlets which causes water levels to surge. Or experience the wild beauty of British Columbia’s coastal rainforests through the eyes of your First Nations guide as they share their culture, history and traditions. From Port Hardy, get out on the water to view wildlife such as whales, porpoises, stellar sea lions and marine birds. Both tours will be lead by Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw First Nations guides.

    Please note that the Nakwakto Rapids tours only run on certain dates each month due to the timing of the tides, see available dates and tour times on their site.

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    3-5 Day Adventures - First Nations

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    Additional Activities

    • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
    • Take a walk in the woods on the Blinkhorn Trail
    • Self-guided tour of Memorial and other Totem Poles in Alert Bay, including the world’s tallest totem pole, brochure available at the Alert Bay Visitor Centre
    • Find the perfect Island-inspired gift item to remember your trip by at Alert Bay art galleries and gift shops
    • Take an educational waterfront stroll along the Port Hardy Seawalk, with interpretive signs dotted along the path
    • It’s all about salmon at the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy, learn about the important role salmon play in the life of whales
    • Stretch your legs with a stroll along the Port McNeill harbourfront walkway or Rotary Trail, or head inland for a forested hiking trail or recreation site
    • Calvin Hunt combines traditional elements of southern Kwakitul art with his own artistic creativity to create the masterpieces that live within his Copper Maker Gallery in the Village of Fort Rupert just outside of Port Hardy