|The kayak is a boon
to the free spirit. It offers flexibility and mobility to the person who doesn't
wish to be hampered by destination-driven travel schedules or a timetable other
than the rhythm of the tides. Such is the lure of kayaking around Haida Gwaii.
What need is there of a specific destination where every place is as magical as
the next, save those coastlines ravaged by logging?|
The entire east coast of
Haida Gwaii, the former Queen Charlotte
Islands, offers prime paddling, but the southeastern side of Haida Gwaii, rife
with tiny islands, secluded coves, and lots of sheltered coastline, is the most
popular kayaking destination. Because the Haida Gwaii islands are perched on the
edge of the Americas, plan on prohibitive conditions on at least a few - if not
most - of the days you are out. The exposed west side of the islands receives
the brunt of the open ocean, but any place can suffer a good buffeting by severe
weather. Flexibility and spare time are two of the most important safety features
you can bring with you.
Anyone planning on doing any serious kayaking needs
the appropriate charts, a compass, and the knowledge of how to use them. Kayaking
is one of the best ways to explore Haida Gwaii, but without a firm grounding in
open-water kayaking or an experienced guide, it can also be one of the most dangerous.
Wicked currents, unpredictable weather patterns, thick kelp beds, and submerged
rocks or reefs all can, and have, claimed kayaks and kayakers. (The Coast Guard
does not issue small-craft warnings for this area because small-craft-warning
conditions are considered to be present at all times.)
While experience is
a prerequisite for unguided multi-day kayak trips around Haida Gwaii, novices
can still enjoy day paddling in the protected waters of the islands. Such conditions
are available at Masset and Juskatla
Inlet at Juskatla on Graham Island,
and Skidegate Inlet between Graham and Moresby Islands. Kayaks and paddling equipment
are available to rent from several commercial operators on the islands. Juskatla
Inlet is easily accessible by logging road from the Graham Island communities
of Port Clements and Queen
Charlotte City, and provides an ideal escape to a wilderness virtually free
of the signs and impact of civilization. Paddling conditions are good, and the
availability of camping facilities provides for an excellent winter and summer
outdoor recreation destination.
The more adventurous should consider one of
the many kayaking expeditions which are offered on the islands. These multi-day
trips can be organized on a drop-off and pick-up basis, or can be booked using
a mothership as a base from which to launch your kayak for day paddles. Returning
to the relative comfort of the base vessel after an exciting day of kayaking is
an attraction to those not yet ready to survive on their own in the natural and
unspoilt wilderness of the former Queen Charlotte Islands. This is the best of
both worlds: you're out in the the wild without really roughing it.
entire cluster of islands has been circumnavigated by kayak, and is open to the
experienced and self-sufficient seafaring explorer. That said, Gwaii
Haanas National Park is by far the most popular kayaking playground in the
Haida Gwaii islands, with such destinations as Hotspring Island, Burnaby Narrows,
Windy Bay, Anthony Island (Ninstints), Tanu, All Alone Stone, Rose Harbour, St.
James Island, Flatrock Island, Echo Harbour . . . the list goes on and on, and
so does the adventure in Haida Gwaii, islands of the people.
The ancient Ninstints
Village on Anthony Island
Many kayak trips
start at Sandspit, although a less exposed route starts from Moresby
Camp, travelling the relatively protected inside waters of Carmichael Pass
south to Gwaii Haanas, thereby avoiding the exposed outside shoreline between
Cumshewa Head and Porter Head at Tangil Peninsula. From Moresby Camp to the northern
boundary of the park reserve is a two-day, 22-mile (35-km) paddle, weather permitting.
You could spend months, even years, exploring the coasts in Gwaii Haanas, stopping
to investigate the many onshore and inland attractions, and still not feel that
you knew the place. But that's part of the magic and appeal of Haida Gwaii.
With the exception of a few mooring buoys and navigational aids, there are no
visitor services or facilities in Gwaii Haanas. Sea kayaking in Gwaii Haanas is
not for novices. This is a challenging area with a host of associated dangers.
Kayakers, in particular, need experience, well-developed paddling and rescue skills,
navigational skills, leadership skills, good judgement, and experience in wilderness
travel. Gwaii Haanas is remote so you cannot rely on other people if you get into
trouble. Itís recommended that independent travellers carry radios, but even so,
it is still likely to take several hours, even in good weather, for help to arrive.
If you are not travelling with a guide or guided tour, file a trip plan with the
Canadian Coast Guard in Prince Rupert.
Be sure to contact them as soon as you return. If you don't, you may be held responsible
for any unnecessary search and rescue initiated on your behalf.
||Ecosummer Expeditions, Clearwater
||Ecosummer Expeditions is a world-class leader in Adventure Travel Tours and BC's original sea kayaking outfit since 1976. We specialize in sea kayaking wilderness expeditions, outdoor hiking and backpacking trips, coastal cruises, canoeing, and first nations native culture. We offer guided adventure travel tours and expeditions to Vancouver Island, Queen Charlotte Islands, Gulf Islands, the Interior BC, and the Great Bear Rainforest, including the Khutzeymateen Valley and Princess Royal Island. Wildlife viewing includes grey whales, orcas, grizzly bears, kermode spirit bears, marine mammals, and rainforest ecology.
||Ocean Light II Adventures, Vancouver
||Ocean Light II is a beautiful and spacious 71ft sailboat offering
comfort, a classic natural wood interior, 5 guest cabins, fishing gear,
7 seakayaks, and a 19ft hard-bottom inflatable. Her crew has 34 years
of experience offering natural history and photography tours on the BC
Coast, including Haida Gwaii, and specializing in grizzly viewing tours
in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, and spirit bear and
grizzly tours in the Great Bear Rainforest. We also offer whale
watching and eco tours, from totems to intertidal treasures, rocky
shores to sandy beaches, and spawning salmon to towering trees. We
offer five spectacular adventure trips between May and October, each to
a different region and each highlighting the awe-inspiring beauty of
the beautiful BC coast.
||Spirit of the West Kayaking, Quadra Island
||Join our sea kayaking adventures around Vancouver Island, Canada's coastal kayaking paradise. Kayak with Killer Whales, paddle Desolation Sound, experience the remote north Nootka Sound, or kayak from the comfort of our 95 ft Mothership, the Songhee. Our sea kayaking trips depart from our base on Quadra Island in the BC Discovery Islands.