Things To Do on Central Vancouver Island

If you are planning on driving to Port McNeill for your kayaking tour with Kingfisher, you may want to choose to add a few stops along the route.
When taking the ferry from the mainland of British Columbia to Vancouver Island you can either sail to Nanaimo or Swartz Bay (Victoria). The tips below are for the route from Nanaimo to Port McNeill.

A good resource is http://vancouverisland.travel. Here are our favourite places to visit on Central Vancouver Island.

Nanaimo is a port town with a quaint downtown, good hiking trails and access to beautiful Gabriola Island. If you are travelling with kids, a little south of Nanaimo you can find WildPlay with ziplines and tree ladders, perfect for an afternoon of fun for young and old.

Driving north on highway 19, near

Things To Do on Northern Vancouver Island

When joining one of Kingfisher’s kayaking tours, you will be starting out of the northeast Vancouver Island coastal town of Port McNeill (with the exception of our Haida Gwaii trips). We encourage you to add a few days before or after your tour to explore the diverse region of Northern Vancouver Island that is filled with spectacular wildlife, landscapes and culture.

The website www.vancouverislandnorth.ca provides lots of suggestions for things to do and places to stay and below we have compiled some of our favourites.

If you are looking for additional activities right in Port McNeill, look into joining Sea Wolf on a full day of Grizzly Bear viewing or on a Wildlife and Culture Tour. Also MacKay Whale Watching starts their whale watching tours out of Port McNeill. Both can be booked as an add-on to

Things To Do on Haida Gwaii

Visiting Haida Gwaii is often a lifelong goal for many people and once you get here we highly recommend spending as much time on the islands before or after joining us kayaking in Gwaii Haanas as possible. The website www.gohaidagwaii.ca provides lots of suggestions for things to do and places to stay and below we have compiled some of our favourites.

For short walks and hikes to do around Sandspit view this map and be sure to visit the Sandspit Visitor Centre at the airport when you first arrive for great local advice. If you arrive on the morning flight in Sandspit you should have time to visit the Haida Heritage Centre at Ḵay Llnagaay in Skidegate and still get back in time for your orientation meeting that evening in Sandspit with your guides. If you only do one extra activity while on Haida Gwaii this is it.

The Haida Heritage Centre at Ḵay Llnagaay in Skidegate

Kayak Photography – Camera Types

Our guests join our kayak tours in part for the beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife we encounter on our tours. Many of our guests are also avid photographers, whether it be using a simple point and shoot camera to document their trip to more serious wildlife photographers with all the latest gadgets. Photos are a great way to share and reminisce about your experiences. However, you have to be careful you don’t spend your whole time looking through a viewfinder in the attempt to document everything or trying to get the “perfect” photo. When your time is spent this way you may miss a lot of the beauty and action that is all around you. Sometimes you just have to put the camera away and sit back and take it all in.

The above is not meant to dissuade guests from taking photos during their kayak tour. We also love to

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Kayak Photography – Protecting Your Camera

For cameras other than waterproof point and shoots there are two main ways to protect your camera when kayaking – a dry bag or a dry case.  As a general rule dry cases will provide you more protection than dry bags but are more difficult to use and to access your camera while kayaking.

The most popular dry cases on the market are Pelican Cases. The hard case provides protection to your gear from being crushed and when properly outfitted with foam provides protection from drops. The case has an o-ring seal surrounding the lid and when closed shut with the case’s clasps it creates a watertight seal. However, you do need to ensure the seal remains clean, and free of any debris otherwise it will leak. Make sure you follow the directions that come with the case and maintain the o-ring seal as recommended.

A case large enough to fit

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Kayak Photography – Charging Your Camera

A big challenge facing photography on multi-day wilderness kayak tours is having the ability to recharge your camera.  This is not a problem on our Orca Waters Base Camp kayak tours because we have a camera recharging station but on longer expedition style kayak tours it is more challenging.

The camera recharging stations at our base camps consist of solar panels, 12-volt deep cycle batteries, and AC/DC power inverters. With this set up cameras can be charged via USB cables or with a regular 110 volt plug-in wall charger. Please bring your own charging cables and if you are visiting from outside North America ensure you have a North American plug adapter if using a plug-in wall charger.  The amount of power generated by the panels and stored by the batteries is limited but generally more than sufficient for charging cameras and our guides’ safety communication devices. However, there is not enough power to

Fishing During Your Kayak Tour

We have many guests ask about fishing during our kayak tours. Some of our kayak tours, specifically the Gwaii Haanas Explorer and Great Bear Rainforest tours, are more conducive to kayak fishing than our other tours. Below is an overview of the kayak fishing opportunities you may expect on our tours along with fishing techniques, equipment suggestions, and licensing requirements.

The Kayak With Whales and Whales and Grizzly Bears base camp kayak tours are primarily aimed at viewing wildlife from our kayaks and there is not much time available for kayak fishing. Some guests do fish from shore at our base camps but it is not as productive as fishing from the kayaks due to the numerous kelp beds that your line and hook may get caught in.

More opportunities to fish are available on the Orca Waters Explorer and Broughton Archipelago Explorer tours but these are

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Marine Mammal Viewing

Our Base Camps are ideally located to view a wide range of marine mammals. A number of seal and sea lion haul outs are within a short paddle of the base camps, humpback whales regularly feed in view of the camps, and orcas travel between Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait right past the base camps.

We often have guests asking us “when is the best time see (fill in the blank) on your base camp tours?” We always want to set the appropriate expectations with our guests of what may be seen on our kayak tours. Below is a chart of the more likely marine mammals we see each summer on our Kayak With Whales and Whales and Grizzly Bears base camp kayak tours.

Marine Mammal Viewing Calendar

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Good Food

We believe that some of the most important aspects of a kayaking tour  naturally include the kayaking itself, the wildlife, and the wilderness experience.  However, we also know that these experiences are more enjoyable when accompanied by good food.  At Kingfisher we serve hearty, healthy, and tasty meals.  We are also happy to cater to a wide variety of dietary preferences and restrictions.  Furthermore, we believe that our food is good because when planning and purchasing our menu we are striving to choose environmental and ethical options, which includes growing our own, buying local, reducing packaging waste, and choosing fair trade and organic when possible.

raspberry picking

raspberry bush

Picking raspberries to top our base camp cheesecakes

Meat, Eggs, and Dairy

We serve wild, BC-caught salmon and halibut, buying it straight from local boats when

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Humpback Whale Disentanglement – Fundraising Challenge!

Humpback Whale Disentanglement - Fundraising Challenge

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When Kingfisher started offering kayak tours eighteen years ago we considered ourselves fortunate to see one humpback whale a year. Since that time the humpback population has made a remarkable comeback and we now see humpback whales almost every day on our kayak tours off northern Vancouver Island. While their numbers have grown, they still face many threats and one of the most serious is getting entangled in fishing nets and gear. Entangled whales face the risk of drowning, losing the ability to feed, or getting infections as gear cuts into their flesh, all too often ending in death for the whale.

For the last three years our friends at the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) have been present whenever possible when commercial fishing is taking place around Northeastern Vancouver Island

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