Take these hikes not just a means of reaching your destination, but to experience the rugged beauty that is revealed with each remarkable step. On Vancouver Island North, one doesn’t so much hike as one goes on an expedition. Not so much a visitor as an explorer. At every turn, there’s opportunity to uncover another hidden passage and reveal long-forgotten treasures. Serving up every type of terrain you can imagine, Vancouver Island North offers rocky shorelines and sandy beaches, mountain passes and cliffside trails with views that plunge into Pacific.

  • 1-2 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    Day 1

    WEST COAST DAY HIKE

    For a truly unique west coast experience, head past the community of Holberg, accessed by gravel logging road from Port Hardy. Look for signs to Raft Cove or Cape Scott Provincial Parks. The trail to Raft Cove is a moderately challenging 2.5 km hike, leading through the coastal rainforest out to a white sand cove and the open Pacific Ocean. Soft sand and breaking waves welcome hikers at Raft Cove. A well-groomed path from the Cape Scott Park trailhead leads hikers 2.5 km, on a relatively easy gravel surface, out to the wide, sandy beach of San Josef Bay. At low tide, walk between the sea stacks at the north end of the first beach at San Josef Bay and connect to the second beach (a more challenging high-tide trail crosses the bluff, but exploration at low tide is recommended).

    Travel on logging road required.

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    Day 2

    WHALE WATCHING DAY TOUR

    Whale watching day tour duration ranges from 2 – 5 hours. Daily scheduled departures from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, Alder Bay, or Port Hardy.

    Members of a population of some 285 fish-eating orcas known as the “Northern Residents” are often in the area in pursuit of salmon. The more stealthy marine mammal-eating population of killer whales known as “Transients” are also often hunting in the area. Humpback whales are back from the brink of extinction and are now spotted with increasing frequency.

    Vancouver Island North sightseeing crews operate with respect, ensuring safe, sustainable encounters that serve the whales and the sightseers in equal measure. Captains closely adhere to “Be Whale Wise” guidelines that dictate boats stay at least 100 meters away from any whales. That’s not to say these remarkable mammals won’t make a memorable encounter on their own terms.

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    EQ Traveller Type

    Cultural Explorer
    Authentic Experiencer
    Free Spirit
    Personal History Explorer
    Cultural History Buff
    Gentle Explorer

    EQ Type Quiz

    Additional Activities

    • If you’re heading west, be sure to stop at the Shoe Tree on the eastern end of Kains Lake, this old cedar snag is covered with hundreds of shoes contributed by visitors
    • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
    • You will be struck immediately by Telegraph Cove’s charm, dig into the roots of this place by touring historic boardwalk
  • 3-5 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    DAY 1 - 4

    CAPE SCOTT MULTI-DAY HIKE

    Forest, rivers, lakes and wide stretches of remote shoreline await in Cape Scott Provincial Park. The Cape Scott trail begins at the main parking lot, west of Port Hardy via Holberg.

    Day one involves a 16.8 km hike from the trailhead to Nels Bight. Along the path you will journey back in time as signs of civilization still present from the Danish pioneers who settled the land 100 years ago reveal themselves. Nels Bight is an excellent camping beach with food caches, a water source and outhouse facilities.

    Day two, continue from Nels Bight along the trail, past Guise Bay and Experiment Bight, to the Cape Scott Lighthouse. Climb the light tower for a bird’s eye view and meet the light keepers.

    Day three, explore the Nels Bight area or take a day hike to Nissen Bight,

    Day four, pack up and follow the trail back to the parking lot.
    Travel on logging road required.

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    DAY 5

    SCENIC BOAT & WILDLIFE TOUR

    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.  Gain a better perspective of the Port Hardy area and marvel at the beautiful coastal mountains and vastness of the North Island.

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    EQ Traveller Type

    Free Spirit
    Authentic Experiencer
    Cultural Explorer
    Personal History Explorer

    EQ Type Quiz

    Additional Activities

    • Explore a garden in the midst of the rainforest at Ronning’s Garden, wander the grounds to discover the plantings started by an early settler to the area, Bernt Ronning
    • If you’re heading west, be sure to stop at the Shoe Tree on the eastern end of Kains Lake, this old cedar snag is covered with hundreds of shoes contributed by visitors
    • Glimpse into the early settlement days on the North Island at the Port Hardy Museum & Archives
    • Listen to stories, witness traditional song and dance, and learn how to weave cedar or make drums through an aboriginal cultural experience
    • Find the perfect coastal-inspired gift item to remember your trip by, shop in Telegraph Cove or Port McNeill
  • 5+ Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    DAYS 1-7

    NORTH COAST TRAIL MULTI DAY TREK

    This trail is rugged, challenging, and an unbelievably rewarding adventure. It crosses headlands, remote beaches and coastal temperate rainforests within Cape Scott Provincial Park. While the hike can be completed in as little as 4 days, it is recommended that you take 7 days to hike this 58 km trail in order to allow some extra time to truly experience the raw beauty of Vancouver Island’s rugged north coast.

    Most people start the North Coast Trail by taking a water taxi from Port Hardy to Shushartie Bay and hike the trail from east to west. Hiking legs to consider:

    • Sushartie Bay to Skinner Creek, 8.1 km, 5 – 7 hours
    • Skinner Creek to Cape Sutil, 5.1 km, 3.5 – 5.5 hours
    • Cape Sutil to Irony Creek, 7.8 km, 4 – 6 hours
    • Irony Creek to Laura Creek, 11.8 km, 4 – 7 hours
    • Laura Creek to Nissen Bight, 7.5 km, 2.5 – 4 hours
    • Nissen Bight to Nels Bight, 6 km, 2.5 – 4 hours; Once you’ve set camp, you can explore the most western regions of the park. Visit the sand neck, Guise Bay, Experiment Bight or even the Cape Scott Lighthouse (7 km from Nels Bight) if you’re feeling up to it at this point in your journey.
    • Nels Bight to the Cape Scott Trailhead, 16.8 km, 5 – 8 hours

    This is a true backcountry adventure and is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best coastal hikes in the world. But be aware, this is no walk in the park: it is not recommended that you tackle the trail without previous backpacking experience.

    Travel on logging road required.

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    Day 8

    WHALE WATCHING DAY TOUR

    Whale watching day tour duration ranges from 2 – 5 hours. Daily scheduled departures from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, Alder Bay, or Port Hardy.

    Members of a population of some 285 fish-eating orcas known as the “Northern Residents” are often in the area in pursuit of salmon. The more stealthy marine mammal-eating population of killer whales known as “Transients” are also often hunting in the area. Humpback whales are back from the brink of extinction and are now spotted with increasing frequency.

    Vancouver Island North sightseeing crews operate with respect, ensuring safe, sustainable encounters that serve the whales and the sightseers in equal measure. Captains closely adhere to “Be Whale Wise” guidelines that dictate boats stay at least 100 meters away from any whales. That’s not to say these remarkable mammals won’t make a memorable encounter on their own terms.

    + More

    EQ Traveller Type

    Free Spirit
    Authentic Experiencer
    Cultural Explorer

    EQ Type Quiz

    Additional Activities

    • If you’re heading west, be sure to stop at the Shoe Tree on the eastern end of Kains Lake, this old cedar snag is covered with hundreds of shoes contributed by visitors
    • It’s all about salmon at the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy, learn about the important role salmon play in a healthy ecosystem
    • Listen to stories, witness traditional song and dance, and learn how to weave cedar or make drums through an aboriginal cultural experience
    • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
    • You will be struck immediately by Telegraph Cove’s charm, dig into the roots of this place by touring historic boardwalk
    • Find the perfect Island-inspired gift item to remember your trip by, shop galleries in Port Hardy, Fort Rupert Port McNeill & Telegraph Cove