This fully guided trip takes you from Campbell River on the central east coast of Vancouver Island all the way to the farthest reaches of the north. Along the way, you’ll explore lively fishing villages, take part in amazing Indigenous-led experiences, and head out on the water to witness the raw beauty of this remote and special place.
Feel the pull of the Pacific as you walk among sea stacks and through dense old-growth forests, watch fishermen set off for the day from historic Alert Bay or witness whales breaching in the far-flung waters of the Queen Charlotte Strait. Unforgettable experiences await.
Day 1: Campbell River to Telegraph Cove
Our journey begins in Campbell River, a small town on the central east coast of Vancouver Island. After an optional hike through the old-growth forests of Elk Falls Provincial Park, we grab lunch and begin the scenic drive north through small towns and coastal mountain views. Telegraph Cove is today's destination, a quaint fishing village that was established in 1912 as a one-room telegraph station. Over the years, a salmon saltery and sawmill were established along with a school and general store. Many of the historic buildings still stand, built on stilts above the water and connected by a boardwalk. After checking into our lodge rooms for the night, we have the afternoon free to wander the village and learn more about its history, with the option to visit the local museum, art gallery, and coffee shop. Our evening includes waterfront dining overlooking the harbour, featuring local specialties and fresh seafood. Meals included: Dinner.
Day 2-3: Alert Bay
The morning is a relaxing one, with time for a leisurely breakfast while watching the fishermen set off for the day. We then make our way to Port McNeill where we board the ferry to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Just 5km long and barely 1km wide, this island is home to the proud and active 'Namgis First Nation community of about 500 people, along with a mix of Kwakwaka'wakw tribes and a small settler population. Alert Bay is a global centre for Indigenous culture, with highlights including the 1200 person Big House for traditional gatherings, the World's tallest totem pole, and the renowned U'Mista Cultural Centre which holds one of the most complete and important collections of Indigenous masks and artefacts in the world. A private tour of U'Mista brings to life the dark past and storied present of BC's Indigenous peoples. We then join a lively cultural dance performance by a local Indigenous group.
Our afternoons on Alert Bay leave time to stroll the seafront boardwalk, stopping by the local shops and museums along the way. We have the chance to participate in a cultural craft workshop to learn the intricacies of cedar weaving. Our guides lead a hike through the old growth forests on the island and the unique Ecological Park. Evenings are spent relaxing in the comforts of a family-run B&B with an expansive deck overlooking the ocean, and indulging in delicious home-cooked meals while watching the sunset. Meals included: Breakfast on Day 3, Lunch, Dinner both days.
Day 4: Kayaking the Johnstone Strait
It's time to get out on the water and immerse in the coastal wilderness! We board a Zodiac from Alert Bay to Telegraph Cove where we meet our kayak guides. After receiving basic paddling and safety training, we set off for a day on the water, paddling at our own pace along the coastline and taking in the unique geology and scenery at every turn. Wildlife is all around us here - from the seals bobbing alongside the kayaks, to the bald eagles soaring above and the orcas and humpbacks gliding by in the distance. Lunch is enjoyed on a remote stretch of beach or nearby island. At the end of the tour, we travel back to Alert Bay for our final night at the B&B by the ocean. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5: Alert Bay to Port Hardy
Today we travel to Port Hardy - the northernmost town on Vancouver Island. Our first stop is the historic village of Fort Rupert where we visit a local Totem Pole artist gallery and enjoy lunch and walk on the scenic Storey's Beach. The afternoon features a guided hike of nearby trails, and time to explore the harbour-front and town of Port Hardy, including unique local shops, history museum, and Carrot Park. There is an optional Float Plane tour over the Broughton Archipelago in a unique amphibious Grumman Goose aircraft. Tonight we check-in to the beautifully appointed Kwa'Lilas Hotel, owned and operated by the local First Nations. Dinner is yours to enjoy as you wish - there is a pub on-site or our guides can provide recommendations in town. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 6: San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Provincial Park
We set off in the morning towards Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island. Cape Scott spans 115 km of scenic, rugged shoreline, with vast stretches of white sand beaches surrounded by lush old- growth forests. A logging road takes us from Port Hardy across the island to San Josef Bay, where a boardwalk through the dense forest brings us out to the beach. We spend the next few hours exploring the 2km beach and unique geology of the area - including impressive sea stacks, tidal pools, and sea caves. Our guides share stories of the local environment and the history of the area, including attempts by the Danish to settle here in the late 1880s.
We arrive back in Port Hardy by late afternoon, with free time to tour the town or relax at the hotel. Dinner is yours to enjoy as you wish, at the pub on-site or at a local restaurant in town. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 7: Whale Watching on the Queen Charlotte Strait
Led by local guides - experts in the area's wildlife and history - we board a small Zodiac boat and set off on the Western Queen Charlotte Strait. With a full day on the water, we travel up the coast and across the channel to the many remote islands nearby. The waters are rich with wildlife, and we have the chance to see sea otters, humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, eagles, and other charming creatures that call this area home. We are on the water for ~6 hours this day, and there is a washroom onboard the Zodiac and the option to disembark for a stretch of the legs as needed. A fresh homemade lunch and hot beverages are provided by our guides. After the tour, we return to the hotel to unwind and pack for tomorrow's departure. On our final night we are treated to a private catered dinner for the group, featuring local, Indigenous-inspired west coast cuisine. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 8: Return to Campbell River
After an optional morning yoga session and hearty breakfast at the hotel, the morning's itinerary is up to you - with time to explore more of Port Hardy or enjoy a light hike on the nearby trails. We then start our journey south, stopping for a rest and lunch along the way. We arrive back in Campbell River around mid-afternoon where the group parts ways. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.
The trip begins in Campbell River mid-morning on Day 1, where your guide will meet you with our 15-passenger van to commence the trip "up island". If travelling via air into BC, we recommend booking a connecting flight from Vancouver International Airport (South Terminal) to Campbell River via Pacific Coastal Airlines (~$150 one-way), and arriving one night prior to the trip start date. We can recommend some hotel options for you. At the end of our trip, we arrive back in Campbell River mid-afternoon. If you wish to continue your journey on land, we recommend renting a car in Campbell River (Budget and National are available) to allow you the time and flexibility to keep exploring the region. Campbell River, Courteney and Comox have a range of beautiful parks for hiking, beaches and water activities, and delicious seafood restaurants and wineries to explore. You may wish to venture to Tofino or Victoria as well. Our team can provide suggestions for your pre/post adventures depending on your preferences.