Kayaking, according to some, is the only way to truly explore and experience the inlets, waterways and island archipelagos surrounding the north end of Vancouver Island. The mellow pace puts you in touch with the rhythm of the ocean. Glide effortlessly across the inlets and waterways, escorted by some of the Pacific’s most majestic marine wildlife. The sight of an orca, a humpback whale or a Dall’s porpoise is hardly unusual, though it never stops being extraordinary. You are more than a simple observer here, you’re part of the west coast experience.

  • 1-2 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    DAY 1

    GUIDED KAYAK DAY TRIP

    Paddle out of Telegraph Cove or Alert Bay for 6 – 7 hours on the waters of Johnstone Strait, or Cormorant Island. Killer whale watching from a kayak in Johnstone Strait is top ranked Canadian adventure, likely because this is one of the most predictable places to see killer whales in the wild.

    Vancouver Island North’s largely unpopulated coastline is dotted with critical habitat and the area is frequented by orca and humpback whales. The narrow channels and tidal action concentrate schooling fish, a primary food source for many marine mammals. Kayak day trips provide a chance to see marine mammals, sea birds, and shoreline wildlife from sea level.

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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.

    Kayaking by Orca

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    1-2 Day Adventures - Kayaking

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    • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
    • 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
    • Dig your toes into the sand at Storey’s Beach, at low tide this wide, sandy beach is a prime location for picnics and beachcombing, or an evening beach fire (check seasonal restrictions), Tide Guides available at the Port Hardy Visitor Centre
  • 3-5 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    DAY 1 - 4

    MULTI-DAY KAYAK TRIP

    More time on the water means more opportunity to see marine wildlife on a multi-day kayak trip, departures from Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, or Alert Bay.

    These tours will journey paddlers into the Broughton Archipelago, home to British Columbia’s largest marine park, or God’s Pocket, known as one of the best cold water scuba diving destinations in the world. These multi-day guided kayak tours focus on sighting orca, humpback whales, and marine life, or Island Archipelago exploration. Wilderness lodge or base camp trips are available. You’re sure to sleep tight listening to the sounds of the ocean and passing whales.

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    DAY 5

    BEAR VIEWING DAY TOUR

    Bear viewing day tours have early-morning daily departures from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill or Alert Bay returning in the afternoon. Day tours are full-day experiences, typically 9 hours in duration.

    Mammoth grizzly bears thrive just a short distance from the north island in the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Tours depart from Telegraph Cove in cabin cruisers accompanied by naturalist guides, touring across Johnstone Strait, and through the Broughton Archipelago to Knight Inlet on the mainland coast of BC. These bears spend the May to October season feeding at the edges of the inlet and in the surrounding river systems.

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  • 5+ Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

    DAYS 1-6

    EXPEDITION GUIDED KAYAK TOUR

    Find yourself surrounded by the pristine marine environment of the Vancouver Island North region on a multi-day expedition guided kayak tour, departing from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, Port Hardy, and Alert Bay. You trip will be nomadic and you will campout at different sites, forested sites or right on the beach.

    All options have a similar focus: marine wildlife – orca and humpback whales, Dall’s and harbour porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Minke whales, Steller sea lions, and Pacific harbour seals.

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    DAY 7

    BEAR VIEWING DAY TOUR

    Bear viewing day tours have early-morning daily departures from Telegraph Cove, or Port McNeill returning in the afternoon. Day tours are full-day experiences, typically 9 hours in duration.

    Mammoth grizzly bears thrive just a short distance from the north island in the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Tours depart from Telegraph Cove in cabin cruisers accompanied by naturalist guides, touring across Johnstone Strait, and through the Broughton Archipelago to Knight Inlet on the mainland coast of BC. These bears spend the May to October season feeding at the edges of the inlet and in the surrounding river systems.

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    DAY 8

    NATURAL HISTORY

    The small-but-mighty community of Telegraph Cove is a top-10 winner of ‘best towns to visit’ in a poll of Canadian travel writers. It is among the last surviving boardwalk communities on the west coast and it has built its current identity around its strong connection to the marine environment. Learn about the biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre. Exhibits include skeletons of killer whale, river otter, Pacific white-sided dolphin, and a 60 foot long fin whale.

    Or make your way up to the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy to find out the critical role salmon play in the lifecycle of whales and bears. Hands on exhibits and hatchery tours tell the hardship of the life of a salmon and their importance to the ecosystem.

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