Kayaking Gwaii Haanas is a spectacular experience. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site is co-managed by the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada and encompasses 138 islands. Commonly called Gwaii Haanas, this protected area provides the adventurous kayaker with stunning scenery, remote wilderness, fantastic wildlife, and the opportunity to visit important Haida cultural sites.
Given the length of the trip, it also offers the best opportunities to view wildlife as the longer you are in the field, the better your chances. Humpback whales, Steller sea lions, bald eagles, and black bears are all prolific in this area.
Gwaii Haanas is a wildlife viewer’s dream. There are 750,000 seabirds nesting in Gwaii Haanas, more bald eagle nests per kilometre of shoreline than anywhere else in Canada, and the highest breeding density of Peregrine falcons in the world. One third of British Columbia’s Steller sea lion population calls Haida Gwaii home and humpback whales may be seen throughout the area. Burnaby Narrows has some of the highest levels of living material of any intertidal zone in the world.
This trip combines our two eight day trips, so it is possible that not all guests are continuing for the entire trip – we take advantage of the changeover to re-supply with fresh food.
On the water we use stable single and double fibreglass kayaks and lightweight carbon/vinyl paddles. Waterproof kayaking jackets and neoprene kayaking mitts are provided to keep you warm and dry while kayaking.
Suggested reading: All of our kayak tours carry a small library of field guides and local history books, including many listed below. We recommend the below books if you want to learn a bit about the area before visiting. Each title is linked to Amazon.com and will open in a new window.
The Queen Charlotte Islands Book 2: Of Places and Names
Ninstints: Haida World Heritage Site
The Golden Spruce: A True Story Of Myth, Madness, And Greed
Islands at the edge: Preserving the Queen Charlotte Islands Wilderness
To The Charlottes – George’s Dawson’s 1878 Survey of the Queen Charlotte Islands
A Guide to the Queen Charlotte Islands
Chiefs of the Sea and Sky: Haida Heritage Sites of the Queen Charlotte Islands
Other currencies – £ GBP / € EUR / $ USD .
Group Size: Maximum of eight guests and two guides (some tours may have a third trainee guide).
Participants: This tour is adult-oriented but participants as young as 15 may be accepted.
Departs: Sandspit, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)
* Kingfisher’s multi-day kayak tours are eligible for a 50% point of sale rebate of the GST for visitors to Canada. In essence visitors to Canada pay 2.5% tax on multi-day kayak tours.
Includes: We provide you will all the necessary kayaking and camping equipment, including kayaks, paddling jackets, PFD (life jacket), group shelters, tents, sleeping pads, camp chairs and sleeping bags (you may bring your own). A comprehensive list of required personal items can be read by clicking on the “Preparation” tab above. All meals during the kayak trip are provided and prepared by your guides. We’re proud of our menu that includes abundant fresh fruits and vegetables, a wide variety of international dishes, and freshly baked treats. Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated given sufficient prior notification. Transportation is all-inclusive from Sandspit by our network of vans and water taxis.
What is not included: We do not provide transport from your home to Sandspit, nor do we provide airport transfers. Accommodation in Sandspit is not included. Any meals outside the kayak portion of the tour are your responsibility. Travel insurance for accidents or emergency evacuation is not provided; we recommend you purchase a policy before leaving home. The trip price does not include guide gratuities; should you feel that the service was exemplary, it is always appreciated.
Please note: Some of the Ultimate Gwaii Haanas Explorer kayak tours start at or near Tanu Island near the northern boundary of the protected area and travel south as outlined in this itinerary. However, some tours travel in the reverse direction, starting near Rose Harbour in the south and kayaking north to Tanu Island.
Day 0: Guests need to arrive in Sandspit the day before the trip departs. At 7:00 PM there is a pre-trip meeting with a Kingfisher guide at Moresby Explorers’ office, next to the Seaport B&B. At the meeting your guide(s) provide you with an overview of the trip, provide a mandatory Gwaii Haanas orientation, distribute dry bags to pack your gear, and answer any last minute questions you may have.
Meals Included: None
Day 1: You are picked up at your accommodation at approximately 7:30 AM by van. We travel over logging roads for about one hour to Moresby Camp where we then board an open zodiac (rigid hull inflatable boat) for an approximately two to four hour exhilarating ride into Gwaii Haanas.
Upon arrival at our first remote campsite, we set up camp and have a kayak and safety orientation. After lunch we try out the kayaks for the first time, exploring the waters surrounding camp.
Meals Included: Lunch – Dinner
Days 2 to 14: Starting near the northern boundary of Gwaii Haanas, near the abandoned Haida village of Tanu, this trip travels south, stopping each day at a new wilderness campsite. You can expect to see few people, and those that you do are likely be near the Haida cultural sites.
As we head south, we’ll travel through Darwin Sound, Juan Perez Sound, before crossing past Skincuttle Inlet and Carpenter Bay. Towards the south end, we’ll turn west into Houston Stewart Channel, and catch the first glimpses of the west side of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). Most of our time is spent travelling the east coast of Moresby Island and the smaller islands close to it.
Day eight is turnover day, with some guests leaving us, and others arriving. We also resupply with fresh food for the remainder of the journey.
The guides pick the route each day after considering the goals of the trip, abilities of the guests, and the weather and sea state. No two trips are identical, but all are amazing experiences.
Meals Included: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
Day 15: On the last day of the kayak tour, you’ll have time to reminisce about the previous days over a leisurely breakfast. Your transportation generally arrives about midday for the journey back to Sandspit where you have the opportunity to get together with the rest of your group for a farewell dinner.
Meals Included: Breakfast – Lunch
It is imperative that guests arrive in Sandspit no later than the day before the kayak tour’s departure date. At the end of the trip, the earliest guests should plan to head home is the morning after the tour ends. Better still, spend a few more days to explore more of the islands. The Haida Heritage Centre is worth the visit.
Travelling by Air
Flights to Sandpsit – YZP from Vancouver depart from the main terminal of Vancouver International Airport – YVR and are approximately 2 hours. These flights are operated by Air Canada.
Travelling by Ferry
BC Ferries services Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) from Prince Rupert. The crossing is approximately 7 hours. Once arriving in Skidegate on Haida Gwaii another short ferry ride is necessary to reach nearby Alliford Bay, a 15 minute drive from Sandspit. If you have the time an Inside Passage ferry runs between Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert.
Via Rail offers train service to Prince Rupert from Jasper. Travel to Jasper from Vancouver or Edmonton by train.
The handbook answers commonly asked questions. However, do not hesitate to contact us with any specific questions you may have. The handbook is in PDF format. If you do not have a PDF viewer one can be downloaded free from Adobe.
For quick reference, here is what you should be bringing on your kayak tour. We provide everything else.
The climate in Gwaii Haanas is typical of British Columbia’s outer west coast – cool and wet virtually any time of the year. The best weather is usually between mid-June and mid-August. During July and August the average temp is about 15°C with an average daily minimum and maximum of 12°C and 17°C. For maximum enjoyment on your trip in all types of weather please bring the items listed below.
It is important that your clothing be made of synthetic materials or wool to retain their warmth when wet. Most synthetics also have the advantage of being quick drying. Avoid cotton clothing because they lack warmth if wet and take a very long time to dry. All of the items listed below need to fit into four dry bags (which we supply). If you have any questions on what you need to bring please feel free to contact us.
Sleeping bag – fits into 20 litre dry bag
We supply sleeping bags, liners, and pillows to all guests but if you prefer to bring your own we recommend:
● A three season synthetic insulated bag
Clothing – fits into 20 litre dry bag
Please bring everything listed. There is duplication and you may not need everything, but in the event of getting wet or cold you will be glad you have it. While many people consider long underwear to be a winter item it can make a world of difference on a cool summer evening and can double as leggings under shorts during the day. The biggest heat loss area is the head and a warm hat can add immensely to your comfort.
● 1 pairs of short
● 2 pair of pants
● 2 long sleeve shirts
● 2 short sleeve shirts
● 2 sweater or sweatshirt
● 4 to 7 pairs of socks
● 2 sets of long underwear
● 4 to 7 pairs of underwear
● 1 swimsuit
● 1 fleece jacket
● 1 baseball cap or sun hat
● 1 wool or fleece cap
Rain gear – fits into 10 litre dry bag
We provide waterproof kayaking jackets but you still need rain gear for around camp. Rain gear does not need to be breathable but it should be be waterproof – not water-repellent.
● 1 waterproof rain jacket with hood or rain hat
● 1 pair of waterproof rain pants
Personal items – fits into 10 litre dry bag
● Sun screen
● Sunglasses with a retainer
● Prescription eyeglasses or contacts
● Spare eyeglasses or contacts
● Wet Wipes
● Synthetic camp towel
● Spare medication
● Insect repellent
● Flashlight and batteries
● Extra digital storage and batteries
Footwear – either worn or packed loose
● sandals or shoes you can get wet
● Walking or running shoes (preferably waterproofed)
● Rubber boots (some guests prefer these instead of wet shoes or sandals for kayaking. But, if you go too deep when entering or exiting your kayak the boots will be wet for the remainder of the trip).
● Wool or fleece gloves or mitts (if your hands easily get cold these are good to have for the evenings)
● Paddling or cycling gloves (we provide kayaking mitts for warmth, but if you are prone to blisters you may find cycling or paddling gloves to be beneficial).
● Farmer Jane/John wet suit to wear kayaking.
Charts: You do not need to bring charts on this kayak tour. Your guides have charts of the area and will review them with guests each day. If you wish to bring your own chart(s) they are listed below. Each chart is linked to the corresponding page on the Canadian Hydrographic Service’s website and you can search where to buy these charts locally (links will open in a new window).
Chart 3807 – Atli Inlet to/à Selwyn Inlet – 1:37,5000
Chart 3808 – Juan Perez Sound – 1:37,500
Chart 3809 – Carpenter Bay to/à Burnaby Island – 1:37,500
Chart 3825 – Cape St. James to/à Houston Stewart Channel – 1:40,000
The below chart covers the entire area of this kayak tour but not does provide the same level of detail as the above charts
Chart L/C3853 – Cape St. James to/à Cumshewa Inlet and/et Tasu Sound – 1:150,000
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A $250 CAD per person deposit is required to permanently reserve your spots(s) on a Base Camp tour. A $500 CAD per person deposit is required to permanently reserve your spot(s) on all other tours. The remaining balance is due 30 days before your tour’s departure date. Please note our cancellation policy.After you complete this form you will be given the option to provide your deposit payment details now or to wait until space on your preferred tour is confirmed. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB cards. Please note that all prices are in Canadian dollars and that 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be added to the price of each tour. Visitors to Canada receive a 50% point of sale rebate on the GST.