Haida Gwaii Sea Kayaking
Sea kayaking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) is a spectacular experience. From remote wilderness travel, fantastic wildlife, and a rich First Nations heritage, this area encompasses it all. If you are looking for a true wilderness experience that has you traveling through a rich and diverse ecosystem along with rich Haida culture, then this is the trip for you!
Kayak Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, voted as the #1 wilderness park destination in North America by National Geographic. Visitors to this area are limited, due the remoteness and a strict quota system implemented by Parks Canada.
Isolated from British Columbia by the infamous Hecate Strait, Haida Gwaii (formerly, the Queen Charlotte Islands) are ecologically unique. These emerald isles are often referred to as the "Canadian Galapagos." The 100 kilometres of open water has isolated the archipelago from the BC mainland, to the extent that there are at least 39 distinct subspecies of plants and animals that are found no place else in the world!
In the native tongue, Haida Gwaii means "Islands of the People," for this area is rich in First Nations historic sites and heritage. The Haida were a seafaring culture, well adapted to oceanic life. The pristine nature of this National Park means that exploring their unique world by kayak is like stepping back in time. View life before Western Civilization, as an array of marine and forest life flourishes around you, unbridled by human development. Float over the startlingly beautiful Burnaby (Dolimite) Narrows, which holds over 300 different species of marine invertebrates. These clear, shallow waters filter a brilliant palette of colorful sea stars in nature's vivid canvas. Visits to ancient native sites unearth the echoes of stories, traditions, and monuments like the famous standing poles at Ninstints (UNESCO World Heritage Site). No trip to Haida Gwaii is complete without a visit to Hot Spring Island, named for the many pools that form a natural spa. A soak in these healing waters is said to cure any ailment.
Images & Videos
Head to the northeast part of Moresby Island and the tiny community of Sandspit, BC (airport code YZP). Do ensure that you check in with Moresby Explorers upon arrival to confirm your departure for tomorrow's tour. Once you've settled in, the day is yours to stroll around Sandspit and enjoy the scenic view. This small town is known as the gateway to Gwaii Haanas, and is the only town on the island. Stop by the visitors centre for information about the area, maps, and local artisan wares. Retire to the hotel of your choosing (not included in the trip cost.)
Cumshuwa Inlet, Zodiac Cruise, Sea Kayak, Camp on Swan Island
A bright and early morning heralds the start of the tour. Moresby Explorers will pick you up at the designated meeting time (usually 7:30 AM, but do check in upon arrival) and drive you to their camp on Cumshuwa Inlet. Your time on the water starts immediately, with a thrilling 2.5 hour zodiac cruise along the scenic coast of Moresby Island. Moresby Explorers will bring you to your first campsite in the Swan Islands in Skincuttle inlet. Swan Bay offers an ideal location to test your new paddling skills after a thorough orientation once you've settled into camp.
Paddle Burnaby Narrows and Camp on Swan Island
A peaceful sleep in camp prepares you for a hearty breakfast and a full day of kayaking. Your route hosts a breathtaking view of Yatza Mountain as you paddle the southern tip of Burnaby Island. As you emerge into the Burnaby (Dolomite) Narrows, cast your eyes to the colorful bouquet of underwater life in the shallow channel. Over 300 varieties of marine invertebrates form a rainbow of underwater splendor as you float this sacred passage. A return to your campsite in the Swan Islands allows for a relaxed evening and filling dinner before bed.
Paddle Skincuttle Inlet, Ancient Village of Hagi, Copper Island Ecological Reserve
The sun rises early, and you'll awake with it for a headstart to the day's adventures. You'll pack the kayaks after breakfast and then paddle across Skincuttle Inlet. As you pass the ancient Haida village of Hagi, on Bolkus Island, look north for a view of the Copper Islands Ecological Reserve. This area also holds an old copper mine, called Jedway, that operated in the early 1900s. The mine was put back into use from 1961-69, but is now abandoned and part of the National Park. You'll spend the night at your first campsite, just south of Deluge Point.
Rankine Island Ecological Reserve, Sea Kayaking, Wildlife Watching
Your southbound journey continues, and you will cross Collison Bay and continue past the Rankine Island Ecological Reserve. Collison Bay was one of the first European settlements in the Haida territory, and offers archeologists a unique opportunity to find artifacts from many cultures and ages scattered in the interdial zone. The Rankine Island offers refuge as a breeding colony for four different species of seabirds: Ancient Murrelets, Cassins Auklets, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, and Leachs Storm-Petrels. A variety of other birds use this area for nesting as well. Your campsite this evening is near the old village heritage site of Kaidju.
Sea Kayak Hecate Strait, Ninstints Territory
The route to your campsite on Ross Island passes through the Hecate Strait as it flows around Kunghit Island. This day you enter the famous territory of Ninstints, home of the Kunghit Haida. Ninstints (or "Nan Sdins") was the last and most powerful chief of the Kunghit Haida, the ancient village you will visit Saturday bears his namesake.
Paddle the Houston Steward Channel, Louscoone Point Campsite
The Houston Stewart Channel drives you toward the Pacific, and you'll continue your paddle West to Louscoone Point for your camp this evening. Today, you'll have the first view of Anthony Island, home of Skun Gwaii and the famous totem poles at Ninstints. The Louscoone Point campsite situates you for a short paddle to the ancient village tomorrow.
Visit Ninstints, Sea Kayak, Historical Tour
Today you visit Ninstints. A stunning paddle past Adam Rocks will allow you to land on the west side of Anthony Island. You will have ample time to explore this ancient site, which was abandoned in the late 1800s by the people of Ninstints (Kunghit Haida). You'll visit with the village watchmen, caretakers of the park's ancient sites. If the tide is right, you might hear the wailing sound as wind pounds through holes in the rocks that gives the village its Haida Name: Skun Gwaii. Afer your visit, you'll paddle back to Ross Island to camp.
Return to Moresby Island, Ferry back to Sandspit, Hot Springs Island
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and morning in camp as you pack your belongings for the return to Moresby Island. Moresby Explorers will collect you at Ross Island and ferry you back to Sandspit, where you will arrive in the late afternoon. On the boat ride, you'll enjoy a last look at this extraordinary wilderness area before stopping at Hot Springs Islands to indulge in a relaxing natural spa and one of the archipealgo's most famous features. We suggest making reservations at a B&B in Sandspit for the evening so that you can fly out the next day.
Make your way to the airport for your flight home.
Dates & Rates
What Is Included
- Professional guides
- Transportation in and out of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
- Expedition kayaks, tents, PFD’s (life jackets) and safety equipment (including satellite phone)
- All camp meals prepared by Tofino Expeditions staff
- Group camping equipment
- Comprehensive on-trip resource library
- Group first aid kit
What Is Not Included
- Accommodation in Sandspit
- National park user fee $120 USD
- Taxes (5% Goods and Services)
- Insurance of Any Kind *
- Tipping of Guides
Note: There is no single supplement on this trip.
* We strongly suggest that you purchase travel insurance that covers medical care and evacuation as well as cancellations for medical reasons.
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
FAQ & More
Professional guides with experience in the area Transportation in and out of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve Expedition kayaks, tents, PFD’s (life jackets) and safety equipment (including satellite phone) All camp meals prepared by your guides Group camping equipment Comprehensive library
Airfares, accommodation in Sandspit, taxes, insurance of any kind, gratuities, town meals and beverages or items of a personal nature.
On this tour, due to park regulations, we can only use tandem kayaks. You will be paired up to paddle with another member of the group or with a guide.
We believe this tour is best experienced in intimate groups. Therefore, the maximum number of guests is 10.