Port Hardy is the
southern ferry terminal for B.C. Ferries to Prince Rupert,
with connections to Alaska and Skidegate in Haida Gwaii, formerly
the Queen Charlotte Islands
Ferry discharging cargo
Time: 15 hours (May-Sept)
on Port Hardy
of Port Hardy
of Prince Rupert
on the map to view a large scale map of Vancouver Island and
Coastal British Columbia Ferry Routes.
current schedules, fares, vehicle reservations and additional
information directly with BC
Ferries. Reservations are required for passenger and vehicle
travel between Port Hardy, Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii (Queen
British Columbia's northernmost port, is the terminus for the Alaska
Marine Highway System and VIA Rail. Visitors will find many whale
watching charters and fishing vessels selling their wares at the busy
dock - try the crabs and fresh halibut! Head down to quaint old Cow
Bay for a cappuccino, or out to the rugged beauty of the Khutzeymateen
reserve. Take a tour of the historical North Pacific Cannery in Port
Edward, the oldest surviving cannery on the coast - well worth a visit.
Ferries from the harbour take visitors up the coast to ports on the
Alaska panhandle and north, and across the Hecate Strait to the breathtaking islands of
Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Numerous cruise ships ply the waters of the 314-mile (507-km) Inside
Passage en route to Alaska. BC Ferries may not rival the QE II
in size, but is majestic enough to carry freight trailers, family
sedans, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and touring bicycles.
Passengers boarding in Port Hardy
for the trip to Prince Rupert
include the usual manifest of adventure-hungry world travellers you'd
expect to find boarding a ferry in British Columbia, bolstered, depending
on the season, by a contingent of tree planters. By the conclusion
of the journey, you'll probably be on nodding, if not full-blown speaking,
terms with many of your fellow passengers.
Aside from a short stretch of open ocean between Vancouver Island
and Rivers Inlet, where
the Central Coast archipelago begins, the route north to Prince Rupert
leads through a narrow maze of channels, passes, and reaches. Snow
and ice coat the peaks of the mountains, and their shoulders plunge
to the tideline. So rugged is most of this coast that if you were
exploring here by kayak, you'd be challenged to find a welcoming landing
site. Passengers should keep their eyes peeled for a whale or dolphin
in Queen Charlotte Sound. With luck you might even see a white-coated
Kermode bear on Princess Royal Island's lengthy shoreline.
M/V Northern Expedition is BC Ferries' newest vessel to ply the waters
of British Columbia's Inside Passage. The new 150 metre ship accommodates
130 vehicles and 600 passengers. Among its many features, the Northern
Expedition will offer 55 modern staterooms (cabins are reserved in
advance and usually book up fast) for customers and an expanded range
of food services and other amenities to delight local residents and
Passengers will enjoy the spacious cafeteria, called Canoe Cafe,
as well as the Vista Restaurant. The Raven's Lounge offers TV viewing
while the reserved seating Aurora Lounge boasts wonderful view and
reclining chairs, perfect for taking in the sweeping vistas of northern
B.C. You'll find a great selection of unique treasures that capture
the essence of the north coast including gifts, clothing, books,
jewellery and treats for everyone at the Passages Gift shop. Together
the Northern Expedition and the Northern Adventure will deliver
a cruise-like travel experience on the northern routes.
Stops at Klemtu, Bella Bella (McLoughlin
Bay), Denny Island (Shearwater) and Ocean
Falls in early spring and late fall prolong the daylong journey,
but also lead to enjoyable scenery as the ferry threads her way
through the Inside Passage.
Come the end of May, when ferry service to ports on the Central
Coast is shouldered by the Queen of Chilliwack (on the Discovery
Coast Passage route), there are no stops between Port Hardy
and Prince Rupert, with its connections to the Queen Charlotte Islands
and Alaska. That's a good thing. The ferry has become so popular
with summer travellers that everything needs to click in order to
keep to the demanding schedule.
If you are travelling with a vehicle, reservations are a must. For
more details and reservations, contact BC Ferries in Canada at (888)
223-3779 or (250) 386-3431.
Carving on the coastal road between Skidegate and Tlell
They lie on
the edge of the province's collective memory like a dream scarce
remembered, mythical and elusive, full of meaning and beauty, yet
incomprehensible to the waking mind. Impossible not to marvel at,
and revel in, this is Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, arguably one of the
most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world.
The Haida Gwaii Islands are about 60 miles (100 km) off the mainland, and
are made up of about 150 islands. Two islands, Graham to the north
and Morseby to the south, comprise the majority of the land mass.
View map of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte
The ferry lands at Skidegate,
dropping visitors at the midpoint of the island. Lush, primordial
rainforest and virgin beaches that change with every tide or storm,
this is a naturalist's paradise. All kinds of boating, kayaking,
diving, hiking, exploring adventures and excellent fresh and saltwater
fishing await the curious.
From the Skidegate terminal on Graham Island, another 20-minute
ferry ride takes you to Alliford Bay on Moresby Island, where
the spectacular Gwaii Haanas, or "place of wonder," truly lives
up to its ancient name. Alliford Bay is 15 km (9 miles) south of
Sandspit and the airport.
Haida culture and history are rich here. From the past, visit old
villages and sacred sites and, from the present, tour museums and
galleries showcasing the works of internationally renowned native