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 Adventures 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 your Kingfisher tour.
For shorter activities, you can go for a swim in the public outdoor pool, or you can measure the Worlds Largest Burl with your own arms.
One of the most iconic villages on Vancouver Island is Telegraph Cove. The postcard waterfront setting features multi-coloured clusters of buildings and homes that cling to the rocky shoreline, as well as café’s and restaurants. At the end of the boardwalk you can find the Whale Interpretive Center where you learn more about the orcas, humpback whales and other cetaceans that live in the local waters. Telegraph Cove is also the starting point of Tide Rip Grizzly Bear viewing tours’s , and Prince of Whales whale watching tours .
Hop on the ferry from Port McNeill to Cormorant Island and visit the village of Alert Bay. Alert Bay has a strong First Nations culture, and we highly recommend visiting the U’Mista Cultural Centre: a cultural education facility that houses a modern museum, an extensive art gallery and gift shop, and dance performances by the T’sasala Cultural Group on select days from early July to late August. Alert Bay is also home to the large variety of poles, including the World’s Tallest Totem Pole that is comprised of a 163 Foot and a 10 Foot pole making it 173 feet tall.
The Port McNeill ferry can also take you to neighbouring Malcolm Island and the village of Sointula. Take advantage of their Free Community Bicycle Program: borrow these green wheels at the Sointula Resource Centre at 165–1st Street across the ferry terminal and explore this 19th century Finnish colony by bike. One reason to bring your car over is to visit the Bere Point Orca Rubbing Beach on the backside of the island.
Stop for a picnic and hike the river trail at Marble Provincial Park, a 30-minute drive northwest of Port McNeill (off the Port Alice road).
When visiting the town of Port Hardy we recommend visiting the Quatse Salmon Hatchery and educational centre to learn more about salmon conservation on Northern Vancouver Island, and go for a walk on the Quatse river trail.
A 45-minute drive southwest of Port McNeill (off the Zeballos road), takes you to the Little Huson Caves Regional Park. View the spectacular cave formations by the lake or walk the trail to see the limestone arches and rock platforms.
On the northern most point of the island you can find the Cape Scott Provincial Park and beautiful San Josef Bay. To get to the area, you have to make sure you are well stocked with food, water and spare tires as there are no facilities nor cell phone coverage. Or let Cove Adventures do the driving and organizing for you on one of their San Josef Day Hikes leaving from Port Hardy. For the real adventurer, check out hiking the 15km Cape Scott Trail or the 58km North Coast Trail.
For activities on your ride from Nanaimo to Port McNeill through Central Vancouver Island, you want to read Things To Do on Central Vancouver Island.