North Vancouver Island Region
The remote North Island is a step further beyond for travellers seeking a go-anywhere license to roam the West Coast wilderness. That step proves to be a remarkably easy one thanks to a modern highway system that zips drivers from Nanaimo’s ferry terminals to the region’s heartland in four hours. Beginning just past Campbell River, the area extends north to the Island’s windswept tip at Cape Scott, west to the jagged Pacific coast and east across whale-rich waters to include the Great Bear Rainforest and sections of the BC mainland. Peaceful, lightly populated and famously scenic, the North Island is about as far away from it all as one can get within a day’s travel of Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle.
FACT > The North Island region is widely regarded as one of the last frontiers of pristine wilderness. A nature lover’s dream come true.
Explore the region as a back-country adventurer or roadtrip explorer. Set cameras to continuous mode and snap action sequences of leaping orcas and mammoth grizzly bears. Paddle across serene lakes before camping under a star-dusted Milky Way. Or linger in a welcoming community for oceanfront dining, shopping, boardwalk strolls and community festivals. Expect
to travel home with the definitive local treat: fresh, frozen, smoked and/or deliciously candied salmon.
First Nations peoples have resided here at least 8,000 years (according to the oldest archeological finds at Port Hardy’s Bear Cove). The traditions of the Kwakwka’wakw live on in Alert Bay, home to dance troupes, the world’s tallest totem pole and the U’mista Cultural Centre’s potlatch treasures. First Nation guides lead ocean rapids tours from Port Hardy and the master carvers of nearby Fort Rupert showcase their skills in studios open to the public.
Accommodations, shops, galleries, restaurants and museums documenting pioneer life make Port McNeill and Port Hardy the prime bases for visitors. Along with Telegraph Cove, these relaxed, come-as-you-are centres have birthed a blooming North Island eco-tourism industry. Scuba divers, kayakers, wildlife enthusiasts and sports fisherman are particularly well served by guides, tour operators and suppliers here.
Whales and bears top everyone’s wish list for close encounters. Group outings in comfortable cabin cruisers depart in search of orcas, humpback whales, porpoises, Steller sea lions, Minke whales and harbour seals. The May to October season is also primetime for nautical trips to the mainland’s grizzly bear habitats.
Take an hour-long walk to San Josef Bay’s deserted beaches or embark on an epic, multi-night trek along the North Coast Trail. Duck underground in a region beloved by cavers for its plentiful boltholes and eerie rock formations. Scuba divers explore the rainbow coalition of cold-water marine life at favourite beauty spots like Quatsino Narrows and God’s Pocket Marine Provincial Park. Pleasure boaters and kayakers edge along the eastern shoreline or strike out for the west coast along deep inlets and fjords. There’s no end of adventure here at Vancouver Island’s last frontier.
Stubbs Island Whale Watching
EXPERIENCE STUBBS ISLAND WHALE WATCHING ADVENTURE!
We think this is the best place in the world to see the incredible Orcas (Killer whales)!
You’ll love our location, the magnificent mammals and bird species you’ll see, and the friendly people you’ll meet.
At Stubbs we are proud to be BC’s first whale watching company (est. in 1980) and we set the standard for marine adventures and ethical whale watching. Our trained marine naturalists share fascinating insights about Orca (Killer), Humpback Whales and many other marine mammals which frequent the Johnstone Strait and Robson Bight area.
Join us for an exciting sea adventure from Telegraph Cove, the Whale Watching Capital of British Columbia! Our 60 foot (17 metre) vessel MV Lukwa and the 40 foot (12 metre) MV Kuluta are comfortable and perfect to take fabulous pictures! Both have heated cabins with toilets and hydrophones (underwater microphone) so you can hear the Orca vocalizations throughout the vessel.
Historic Telegraph Cove is British Columbia’s last boardwalk community. Nature’s abundance is everywhere with eagles soaring overhead, river otters playing on the docks and deer and bears roaming nearby. The Johnstone Strait and Broughton Archipelago are home to a bounty of nature’s magnificence including Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lions, Dolphins, Porpoises, Bald Eagles and so much more. Every trip from our base in Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island, is an adventure of a lifetime.
Depending on the time of year in British Columbia, you may see Minke whales, Harbour Porpoises, Dall’s Porpoise, Humpback Whales, Bears, Steller Sea Lions, various birds, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, and of course, our famous Orca (killer whale).
Once you board our custom built whale watching boats we will guide you through the passages and around the islands that are teeming with wildlife in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful locations on British Columbia’s coast.
Our boats are equipped with underwater microphones (hydrophones) so we can listen in on the squeaks, whistles and echolocation that allow orcas and dolphins the ability to communicate and locate their food. Our captain and naturalists are always happy to answer your questions and we provide a short on-board presentation about the whales and other marine mammals.
At Stubbs Island Whale Watching, we are dedicated to ethical wildlife viewing, education and conservation. We are very concerned about the environment and do everything we can to reuse, recycle and reduce.
Join us for our 35th season in 2014 on one or more of our tours that run daily from early May to October.
Vancouver Island North Tourism
Vancouver Island North exerts a magnetic pull on easygoing adventurers seeking authentic experiences in a spectacularly panoramic natural setting – largely undiscovered yet just a day’s travel from Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle. The variety of things to do here is remarkably diverse.
Spot black bears on the north Island, and depart from here on a grizzly bear viewing tour to the adjacent mainland coast. Fish some of the richest waters around Vancouver Island. Take a day hike or a multi-day backcountry adventure on the North Coast Trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Shop local for smoked salmon, funky folk art, and exquisite First Nations masterpieces. Get to know some of the colorful individuals who call the area home at lively seasonal festivals, coffee shops, waterfront eateries and on the main streets of friendly north Island towns.
The region is a tempting retreat for independent travelers craving unstructured holidays that can be shaped according to their own passions, interests and energy levels. The people here are down-to-earth and rooted in a sense of place and you will find the businesses here providing a full range of creature comforts with a personal touch.
Nothing says summer like tent camping, and Vancouver Island North caters to those who enjoy sleeping under the stars with options ranging from full-service family friendly spots to basic wilderness sites. There is also plenty of choice for those who prefer a roof overhead with cozy B&B, cabin, and cottage options, to hostels, hotels and resorts.
Discover timeless First Nations traditions flourishing in Alert Bay, Fort Rupert, an other Vancouver Island North communities as you meet artists, watch carvers in action, participate in guided canoe and marine expeditions, and step into a Big House to witness traditional dance performances. The region’s legacy of European settlement, logging, fishing and mining is well represented in local museums.
The towns and villages here are bastions of civilization in the midst of a wild landscape populated by bears, wolves, cougars and bald eagles. To the west is the open Pacific, with miles of ruggedly beautiful coastline and access to secluded wilderness beaches. To the east are the more protected waters around the islands of the Broughton Archipelago and Johnstone Strait, an area internationally renowned as one of the world’s very best whale-watching environments.
It’s easy to find yourself off the beaten track and immersed in the surrounding nature. Explore with friends and family while following your own internal compass and Visitor Centre maps and guidebooks. Or enlist one of the area’s knowledgeable guides for direct access to the region’s very best fishing, diving and wildlife-watching spots.
Gaze in awe as black bears snack on roadside grass. Take road trips deep into the Island’s interior. Hike for as little or as long as you like on wilderness trails to lakes, mountain peaks and beach fronts unsullied by a single footprint. Chill out by swinging a golf club, getting pampered with a spa treatment or while wading in rivers, lakes and the ocean.
Plan ahead or write each day’s agenda hour-by-hour. The scenery is breathtaking and the picture-perfect moments seem endless. Welcome to Vancouver Island North. Your first trip here won’t be the last.
Enjoy the majesty of the coastal mountains as we explore spectacular Knight Inlet to find grizzly bears. As the snows melt, both black and grizzly bears emerge from their hibernation dens on the mountain slopes. Late May to mid June is the mating season with lots of interesting interaction. The big grizzly bears chase the not-too-interested females, displacing other bears along the beach. Certainly this is our favourite time of the viewing season.
Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures offers day trips to view grizzly bears in majestic Knight Inlet. Tours depart early each day May 15 to Sept 30 via covered tour boat with onboard washroom. Often we see dolphins, black bears, seals and eagles. Lunch included.
Knight Inlet Wilderness
Knight Inlet is a place where the spectacular snow-capped Pacific Coastal Range comes together with the lush temperate rainforest and the mighty Pacific Ocean. It is a pristine wilderness and home to an amazing variety of wildlife.
Knight Inlet’s abundant salmon run, ideal habitat and the safety afforded by the creation of a Special Management Zone (i.e. no hunting), provides exemplary grizzly bear viewing potential. This is why we offer our grizzly tours in Knight Inlet.
British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (BC Ferries) is one of the largest ferry operators in the world, providing year-round vehicle and passenger service on 25 routes to 47 terminals, with a fleet of 35 vessels. The company provides an essential transportation link that connects coastal communities and facilitates the movement of people, goods and services throughout coastal British Columbia.
BC Ferries’ diverse service area includes connections between the Vancouver Mainland and Vancouver Island; from Vancouver Island or the Vancouver Mainland to many small island communities; from Prince Rupert on the province’s north coast to Haidai Gwaii and to Port Hardy. In 2011/12, BC Ferries transported 20.2 million passengers and 7.8 million vehicles on over 186,000 sailings.
BC Ferries’ goal is to always offer passengers a memorable travel experience. Vessels serving customers on BC Ferries routes between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast offer a wide range of passenger services – onboard and at the terminal. The mix varies from one vessel or terminal to the next but the goal is always the same: to make your voyage comfortable and enjoyable. On your trip across the water, be sure to look for a variety of onboard amenities like the Coastal Cafe, the Pacific Buffet, the Seawest Lounge and Passages Gift Shop.
BC Ferries has a several appetizing dining options available onboard that vary from one vessel to the next. The Coastal Cafe has an assortment of hot and cold items such as Bread Garden sandwiches, wraps and sushi, White Spot Burgers Onboard, Captain Kids Meals and options from the Healthy Choices Program like a selection of fresh salads. For passengers looking for an elegant dining experience with spectacular ocean views, the Pacific Buffet offers a variety of gourmet choices for an all-inclusive price.
If you are looking to do some onboard shopping, Passages Gift Shop is a great place to find gifts and souvenirs inspired by the West Coast of British Columbia. Passengers will find a wide selection of jewelry, clothing, toys, books and even gift certificates. Simply want to relax onboard? Enjoy the scenic coastal views from the Seawest Lounge – this is the perfect place for passengers looking for a quiet, comfortable and peaceful experience onboard.
There are various passenger services available at our terminals that vary from one terminal to the next. Larger terminals feature markets and coffee shops, play areas and other amenities, while smaller ones have facilities suited to travellers on shorter, inter-island crossings – many with kiosks run by local businesses.
On select routes a guaranteed reservation may be purchased on a first come, first serve basis.
To stay up to date with BC ferries news, promotions, contests and great deals, sign up for the BC Ferries OnBoard Newsletter or join us on Twitter to receive up to the minute notices on specials, deals and services.
Pacific Coastal Airlines
We’re in the Business of British Columbia
Pacific Coastal Airlines (PCA) supports local business and the economy by providing efficient and competitively-priced travel and transportation options, creating local jobs, and servicing new and existing trade-and-travel routes throughout BC and western Canada.
With over 35 years experience serving British Columbia, and being family-owned and operated, Pacific Coastal Airlines is People Friendly, People first. PCA is made up of two divisions: wheeled-aircraft, based in Vancouver, and floatplane service, based in Port Hardy and Port McNeill.
PCA serves 65+ communities in BC—check out our route map on our website.
Please call 1-800-763-0812 or visit our website to book your flight online now.
Please ask for a quote for charter service in BC and western Canada. Fill in our Charter Quote Request Form and a representative will be in touch to discuss and quote on your itinerary.
Seaplane service must be booked through our seaplane call-centre at 1-800-589-4740.
Not only does PCA offer cargo service in BC, it also offers door-to-door service throughout Canada with its partnership with Cargojet (more information here).
Promotions and Special Offers
• Three fares to choose from: Bravo (affordable), Classic (flexible), and Encore (convenient)
• Smokin’ Hot Deals
For more information please visit Pacific Coastal Airlines’ homepage today!