could spend months, even years, exploring the coasts and the unspoilt wilderness
of Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, stopping to investigate
the many onshore and inland attractions, and still not feel that you know the
place. But that's part of the magic and appeal of Haida Gwaii, where every place
is as magical as the next. The entire east coast of the Haida Gwaii Islands offers
prime exploration, but the southeastern side of Haida Gwaii, rife with tiny islands,
secluded coves, and lots of sheltered coastline, is the most popular boating and
Bays and Fjord-like Inlets
Because the Haida Gwaii islands are perched on
the edge of the Americas, 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.
There are 1,884 islands in the archipelago, a mixture
of snow-top mountains and fjords that plunge into the sea, mist-enshrouded forests
and windswept sandy beaches. The seven largest of the islands are - from north
to south - Langara, Graham, Moresby, Louise, Lyell, Burnaby, and Kunghit Island.
They rise as peaks of a submerged mountain chain, with the tallest peaks perpetually
capped in snow. Just 2 or 3 kilometres offshore, the continental shelf falls away
dramatically to the immense depths of the Pacific Ocean.
unpredictable weather patterns, thick kelp beds, and submerged rocks or reefs
are common. 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.
The coastline of Haida Gwaii is punctuated by many bays, sounds and inlets.
The largest of them are Masset Sound, which leads into Masset Inlet, Naden
Harbour, Rennell Sound, Skidegate
Inlet between Graham Island and Moresby
Island, Cumshewa Inlet, and Juan Perez Sound.
Masset Sound (25 miles/40
km long) is a fast-flowing connection between Dixon Entrance, the body of water
between Haida Gwaii and Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, and the ecologically
unique Masset Inlet. The village of Masset
is located at the mouth of Masset Sound, and Port
Clements sits on the eastern shore of Masset Inlet, which leads into Juskatla
Inlet, and the logging camp of Juskatla
on the eastern shore. Masset harbour, located on Delkatla Inlet, provides safe
moorage in Masset. Take a stroll down to the Government Wharf and watch the comings
and goings, with boats docking, fishermen preparing for trips or unloading their
catches - there's always something of interest happening.
80-berth small craft harbour and boat launch ramp at Haans Creek, 2 miles (3.5
km) west of the Sandspit village centre,
caters to commercial and recreational boats and serves as a good base for fishing.
Boat Harbour in
Queen Charlotte City
Queen Charlotte City also has a
safe marina catering to recreational boats and commercial fishing vessels, and
nearby Lina Island and Kanga Bay offer sheltered anchorages. Skidegate
has a small public float and moorage facilities for pleasure craft.
Haanas National Park is the most popular boating and kayaking playground in
Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), with beautiful and interesting islands,
cultural and heritage sites to visit. Such destinations include 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.
With the exception of a few mooring buoys and navigational aids, there are
no visitor services or facilities in Gwaii Haanas, so boaters obviously need to
be self-sufficient. Gwaii Haanas is remote so you cannot rely on other people
if you get into trouble, and even with a radio, it is still likely to take several
hours, even in good weather, for help to arrive. Many commercial operators are
licensed to operate in Gwaii Haanas National Park.
Camp is the closest road access point to Gwaii Haanas National Park, the northern
edge of which is approximately 30 miles (50 km) to the south. The small float
at Moresby Camp serves as a floatplane departure spot for those venturing into
the park, and a boat launch on the shore of Cumshewa Inlet provides water access
to the park and the surrounding inlets and islands. Nearby Gordon Cove
also has a public mooring buoy and float.
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
The crossing of Hecate Srait, which separates the Haida Gwaii
Islands from the BC mainland, requires careful planning and monitoring of the
weather forecasts - standard procedure for experienced boaters. Leave in the early
morning on a good weather window. Beaver Passage and Larsen Harbour on the northern
tip of Banks Island (Browning Entrance) are good departure points for Haida Gwaii
(63.5 nautical miles).
||Bluewater Adventures, Vancouver
||Explore BC and Southeast Alaska with Bluewater Adventures aboard our 70' yachts sailing the BC Inside Passage, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Gwaii Haanas National Park, the Great Bear Rainforest, and Vancouver Island. You'll see whales, Grizzly, Black and Kermode bears, and experience ancient native villages and Haida culture, primeval forests, wilderness, and amazing coastal wildlife.
||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.
||Prince Rupert Adventure Tours, Prince Rupert
||Experience stunning and magnificent displays of wildlife in their natural habitat in and around BC's beautiful North Coast! Encounter humpback, orca, gray and minke whales feeding and playing in the sheltered Northern Inside Passage. Watch for porpoises, seals, sea lions, bald eagles, blue herons, and other sea birds as you learn first-hand about the diverse West Coast environment with our marine adventures tours. Our Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Tours offer a chance to see these legendary giants in the famous and pristine Khutzeymateen “Valley of the Grizzly”, home of the largest population of Grizzly Bears anywhere on Earth.