It’s not so much wildlife viewing. Viewing implies observation over participation, like looking through a window; watching over a fence, or through a pair of binoculars. Safe and separate. It’s common, but it’s not how we do things here. On Vancouver Island North, a better phrase is Wildlife Immersion. Every inch of Vancouver Island North is teeming with wildlife, creatures great and small; the land up here still belongs to the wild things.

  • 1-2 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH, OVERNIGHT IN TELEGRAPH COVE, PORT MCNEILL OR PORT HARDY

    Day 1

    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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    Day 2

    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.

    Grizzly_Fishing

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    EQ Traveller Type

    Cultural Explorer
    Free Spirit
    Authentic Experiencer

    EQ Type Quiz

    Additional Activities

    Whale watching day tours will typically be a morning, or afternoon activity, leaving you some time before or after to lose yourself in another Vancouver Island North experience.

    • It’s all about salmon at the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy, learn about the  role salmon play in the life of whales
    • It doesn’t get fresher than catching your own dinner, head out on a guided half-day fishing charter
    • Find the perfect marine-inspired gift item to remember your trip by, shop in Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Port McNeill & Port Alice
    • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
    • Take a kayak tour out of Telegraph Cove for another chance to see whales from a different perspective, 2 or 4 hour options available
    • Shake out your sea legs and head inland for a forested hiking trail or recreation site
    • Overnight in Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill or Port Hardy
  • 3-5 Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH, OVERNIGHT IN PORT MCNEILL OR TELEGRAPH COVE

    Day 1

    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. Cute cubs and towering adult bears spend the May to October season feeding on sedge grasses, seaweed, shellfish and salmon at the edges of the inlet and in the surrounding river systems. Let the natural environment speak to you while you find yourself getting lost with wildlife.

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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 spotted frequently in the area.

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    Day 3

    Wildlife & Culture

    Choose to spend your day in Port Hardy for Ha’matla Lel’gwatla’tle, or Elder’s Story. Port Hardy has three Nations in the region; the Quatsino Nation, Fort Rupert (Kwakiutl) Nation, and the Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw Nation. An Elder from one of the three Nations that will share their story of legends of their people and their family. These captivating stories typically emphasize man’s connections with animals and nature and often involve anthropomorphism of the main characters.

    Or make your way over to the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, or ‘Yalis as the community is traditionally known by the people of the ‘Namgis First Nation, to view the Potlatch Collection and learn about legends of Maxinuxw “Killer Whale”. Travel by BC Ferries from Port McNeill to Alert Bay.

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    Day 4

    Whale Watching Day Tour

    This whale watching day tour departs daily directly from Alert Bay and will last 4 – 5 hours. This eco-friendly tour intentionally keeps group sizes small in order to provide an experience unique to the other tours in the region. See whales from a different vessel, and a different perspective.

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    Day 5

    Visit Bere Point Killer Whale Rubbing Beach

    Local whale researchers say that the Northern Residents are the only Killer Whales of BC’s four distinct populations that rub on smooth pebble beaches. The accepted hypothesis as to why these whales rub on these beaches is that it’s a cultural tradition for the Northern Resident community of orca to indulge in this behaviour.

    Bere Point is one beach with this unique make up with millions of small smooth pebbles covering a long, wide gradual slope. Perfect conditions for orca to rub themselves up against without harm. It’s one of, if not the only, orca rubbing beach readily accessible to humans, with a regional park adjacent to it, and a trail to the rubbing beach. You will also find a viewing platform and educational signage with information about killer whales seen at Bere Point and on the BC coast.

    * Travel on logging road required for this activity

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    EQ Traveller Type

    Cultural Explorer
    Authentic Experiencer
    Free Spirit

    EQ Type Quiz

    Additional Activities

    DAY 1

    The bear viewing day-tour will keep you busy from the early morning departure until the afternoon return trip, but if you’re up for an evening activity, here’s a few to consider.

    • 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 in Telegraph Cove or Port McNeill
    • 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

    Overnight in Port McNeill or Telegraph Cove

    Additional Activities

    DAY 2

    Whale watching day tours will typically be a morning, or afternoon activity, leaving you some time before or after to lose yourself in another Vancouver Island North experience.

    Overnight in Port McNeill, Telegraph Cove, or Port Hardy

    Additional Activities

    DAY 3

    • Find the perfect Island-inspired gift item to remember your trip by, shop galleries in Port Hardy, Fort Rupert Port McNeill & Alert Bay
    • 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
    • Hit the trails – Quatse Loop & Estuary Trail in Port Hardy, Beaver Lake Interpretive Trail, Fort Rupert Trail – Bear Cove Road to Storey’s Beach, or the Alert Bay Ecological Park

    If you chose to spend the day in Port Hardy, travel by BC Ferries from Port McNeill to Alert Bay, and overnight in Alert Bay.

    Additional Activities

    DAY 4

    Travel by ferry from Alert Bay to Sointula on Malcolm Island, and overnight in Sointula.

    Additional Activities

    DAY 5

    Unwind on Malcolm Island and adjust to the relaxed pace by exploring this quirky place.

    • Hike the Beautiful Bay trail, the Mateoja Heritage Trail or to Pulteney Point Lighthouse, maps available at Visitor Centres
    • Visit the Sointula Museum
    • Visit Sointula art galleries
    • Borrow a bike and cruise Kaleva Road, the bikes are free to borrow, just sign one out at the Sointula Resource Centre

    Travel by ferry from Sointula to Port McNeill.

  • 5+ Day Adventures

    Itinerary

    Travel to Vancouver Island North

    Days 1-6

    MULTI-DAY MARINE MAMMAL TOUR

    Gain a deeper understanding of the full marine ecosystem of the Vancouver Island North region on a multi-day marine mammal eco-tour, departing from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, Port Hardy, and Alert Bay. Luxury linens welcome guests at off-grid wilderness lodges, thick camping mattresses on raised beds furnish standing room tents on base camp tours, or go mobile and set camp at a new location each night on expedition-style trips.

    All options have a similar focus: marine wildlife. Whales are often the stars of the show, with the hopes of seeing both orca and humpback whales. Trips may also encounter Dall’s and harbour porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Minke whales, Steller sea lions, and Pacific harbour seals.

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    Day 6-7

    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.

    Make your way up to the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy for another look at the underwater world. Hands on exhibits and hatchery tours tell the hardship of the life of a salmon and their importance to the marine ecosystem.

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    Days 7-10

    Multi-day bear viewing tour

    Truly get back to nature at a remote wilderness lodge on a multi-day grizzly bear viewing tour. Lodges provide cozy comforts like plush beds and gourmet meals in the heart of the wilderness. Tours depart from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island North, or from outside of the region.

    Viewing excursions head out from the lodges multiple times each day along the rivers and estuaries of BC’s mainland coast. Quiet patience is what often pays off in a grizzly sighting from the blinds built on the river bank. Watch natural bear behaviour as they forage and interact in their territory. This is nature in its element.

    Grizzly_Grazing

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    EQ Traveller Type

    Cultural Explorer
    Authentic Experiencer
    Free Spirit

    EQ Type Quiz

    Additional Activities

    DAY 6-7

    • Visit Shephard’s Garden (Nimpkish Heights, near Port McNeill)
    • Whale Interpretive Centre (Telegraph Cove)
    • Fishing charter, ocean or freshwater (Port McNeill, Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Port Alice)
    • Visit Port McNeill Heritage Museum
    • See the world’s largest burl (Port McNeill))
    • Quatse Salmon Centre (Port Hardy)
    • Self-guided tour of Fort Rupert, map available at the Port Hardy Visitor Centre
    • Shop galleries in Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill Port Hardy & Fort Rupert
    • Port Hardy Museum & Archives
    • Walk the Port Hardy Seawalk or the Port McNeill Seawall
    • Hike – Cluxewe Salt Marsh, Quatse Loop & Estuary Trail, Beaver Lake Interpretive Trail, Marble River, Schoolhouse Creek Trail

    Overnight in Port McNeill, Port Hardy, or Telegraph Cove