|Jun 3rd - Jul 4th||Jul 6th - Jul 18th||Jul 20th - Sep 1st||Sep 3rd - Sep 19th|
Spend 3 whole days exploring Johnstone Strait and Robson Bight by sea kayak, in search of wild Killer Whales or Orcas in their natural environment. A unique base camp to base camp, nomadic kayak tour led by our experienced, qualified guides using top quality equipment, optimized for wildlife viewing and a safe, fun experience. Opportunities to also see sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, bald eagles, black bears, humpback whales, numerous sea birds and the spectacular rugged scenery of northern Vancouver Island.
Non-intrusive wildlife observation and fun kayaking for all
Telegraph Cove, Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canada.
Start and End Time:
Starts at 0830 on Day 1 and returns at approx. 1530 on Day 3.
Odd # days in June & August. Even # days in July & September.
Camping accommodation at one or more of our fully equipped, waterfront wilderness Base Camps. All camp equipment provided.
Lunch & Dinner on Day 1; Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on Day 2; Breakfast & Lunch on Day 3.
None. We use stable tandem Sea Kayaks and provide all required kayaking equipment. Single kayaks may be available with experience.
This trip is restricted to those over 14 years. Seperate Family trips available suitable for over 7 years.
The North Island Kayak Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari concentrates on the areas known to be the primary summer range of Northern Resident Orca (killer whale) population.
We maximize the time spent in these areas by utilizing up to two of the six wilderness base camps that we erect every spring. These camps are scattered throughout northern Johnstone Strait and the South-East corner of Queen Charlotte Strait with specific locations selected to provide easy access to varying localized habitats. Each trip will utilize different camps based on environmental factors like tides, currents and forecast weather with a mind to optimize wildlife observation opportunities and provide an enjoyable, safe and accessible kayaking experience. The base camps are all similarly equipped with comfortable facilities but each provides a different view and exploration opportunities. North Island Kayak is unique in this area in being able to provide a 3 day sea kayaking tour, showcasing what spectacular wilderness area has to offer while being assured of a comfortable base camp each night. Having our private camps already set gives us the ability to spend longer on the water as we can be sure that there will be places for us when we reach our destinations.
Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari – Day 1
You need to be at our store adjacent to the kayak launch ramp in Telegraph Cove at 8-30am on your start date. Your kayaks will already be on the launch ramp, waiting for you, with the group gear loaded. We will spend some time assisting you to pack your personal things and clothing into the dry bags we supply and loading it into the kayaks. Once your bags are stowed you will receive some on-shore paddling instruction and we will be ready to cast off. You will paddle out of the mouth of the tiny Telegraph Cove harbor, directly into Johnstone Strait and the realm of the Orcas.
Never kayaked before? Within the first 10 minutes you will have grasped the basics.
We will ensure you are comfortable as we paddle along the shoreline of Vancouver Island in the direction of our first remote beach base camp. As you glide along in your sleek, non-intrusive Kayak, we stop and watch for any wildlife and enjoy the majestic scenery of Northern Vancouver Island. The timing of any wildlife encounters cannot be predicted but we can be sure that we have three days of great opportunity in front of us.
We will stop to stretch our legs and enjoy a picnic lunch on a remote beach before paddling the last stretch towards your home for the first night. During the day we will poke around some tidal shallows to find intertidal critters; Watch for Bald Eagles and their nests; See the inquisitive Dalls Porpoises and if we are lucky spot a Black Bear turning rocks, looking for breakfast. Maybe we will see Killer Whales, or even on occasion Humpback Whales, right outside the mouth of Telegraph Cove or maybe we will not see any today. Rest assured, your experienced guide is monitoring the local chatter on their marine radio to ensure we do not miss a single opportunity.
You will likely reach the our Kaikash Creek Orca Camp, or one of our other great base camp locations, in the mid afternoon. This ensures we miss getting caught in the afternoon winds that frequently come out of the North and gives you a chance to get settled. Just because we are on shore does not mean that spectacular wildlife encounters are over for the day. Of the many creatures that abound in the vicinity, the Killer Whales, Steller Sea Lions, eagles and seals will frequently hunt along the kelp forest just in front of camp. Keep your eyes and ears open.
The days paddling and the fresh air will likely have caused you an appetite, which will be satisfied by our healthy and filling dinner. After dinner, enjoy some games or take a stroll along beach. Alternately hang around the campfire and get to know the other members of your group. If weather permits, an evening paddle may be on the cards. If not there is always tomorrow! At bedtime, snuggle into your sleeping bag and enjoy feeling of sleeping under the stars that only a camping experience can provide.
Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari – Day 2
Wake up to the aroma of coffee and the great outdoors. After a hearty breakfast it’s into the kayaks to explore deeper into Johnstone Strait and to the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve about 6km away. While this whole region has been identified and is protected as critical habitat for the Northern Resident Killer Whales, Robson Bight is where they head for the rubbing beaches. As this sanctuary is so sensitive, one may only paddle to the borders – we may not actually enter. We will take a picnic lunch on a beach adjacent to Robson Bight. Here we can stretch our legs on a short hike to a waterfall and overlook before heading back to camp in the late afternoon.
When we find ourselves in the vicinity of a pod of Orca, your guide will deploy the research grade hydrophone they carry so we may hear their communications. We use an external amplifier and speaker so all may hear. If you have a video mode on your camera, this can allow you to capture the sounds as well as the sight of these spectacular animals. Enjoy a second evening at one of our remote beach camps and dinner from our ‘Orca View’ beach-side BBQ. Reminisce about all the day’s activities and fun. Thumb through our library to identify any creatures you may have seen on your excursion and learn more about them. Watch the sunset and if you are lucky a moonrise while your cozy tent awaits. The lack of light pollution this far away from civilization allows for spectacular star-gazing on dark, moonless nights.
Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari – Day 3
You will wake up once again to a camp breakfast cooking and the smell of coffee. After the kayaks are packed you paddle, once more among the marine mammals of the Pacific Northwest while we slowly start the homeward journey. The route home will vary depending on our afternoon weather forecast but our focus will remain on wildlife viewing. Your guide will always have the hydrophone at the ready so no opportunity to listen in on whale talk will be missed
Lunch will be had on a remote beach before the last leg towards Telegraph Cove. On arrival and after the group photo has been taken, you can just grab your belongings and enjoy the rest of your vacation. We do the entire cleanup! Many guests stay a while, reliving the adventure with new friends and exchanging contact information so pictures can be shared. Be sure to take time to visit the Whale Interpretative Center before leaving this pristine wilderness haven.
This is a sample itinerary. In order to provide the most exposure to wildlife and scenery we plan to camp at up to two of our six base camps in the area, however on some occasions we may need to make changes due to weather or tidal considerations; Our goal will always remain to provide you the best possible wildlife and kayaking experience
Over 200 Northern Resident Killer Whales call this area home for the summer. These fish-eating mammals forage Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait for their favorite food the Chinook Salmon, the largest of the salmon species.
An increasing number of Humpback Whales also inhabit these waters, feeding on the abundant krill and herring Queen Charlotte Strait & Johnstone Strait provides. These giants arrive in the Straits in late May and stay until October.
The Stellar Sea Lion, the largest of the sea lions, calls the area home year round as does the Harbor Seal, Bald Eagle (and many other sea birds), Pacific white-sided dolphin, Dall’s porpoise, Black bear, mink and salmon while the cold, nutrient rich waters create an incredible inter and sub-tidal invertebrate ecosystem to explore.
A few times a year we will see Minke whales and on rare occasions Fin whales or Cougars.
See our tour Wildlife Tab for further details.
Base Camping with a difference
Choosing North Island Kayak gives you the unique opportunity, on a tour of this length, to stay at multiple camps in different locations, scattered throughout the area. This allows us to explore further and see more, because we do not have to come back to the same camp each evening. Your kayaking tour with us takes you on a journey through the wilderness and the wildlife that inhabits it, while enjoying the increased comfort that our pre-erected base camps can provide.
We have six different Base Camps located in Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait; all within the summer range of the Northern Resident Orcas. These camps have been specially selected by us to provide access to the diverse micro-environments to be found in the region. Each camp is configured with facilities to a similar comfort level but each provides a different view, a different beach to explore and new opportunity.
Camp to Camp kayaking with Base Camp facilities = Unmatched value for money and the best possible wildlife opportunities!
The Best Start Location – Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
Telegraph Cove is the departure and return point of choice for killer whale sea kayaking tours and North Island Kayak is based in Telegraph Cove – No time wasted on a bus transfer – Be first on the water. Relax and unwind in the peaceful haven.
Visit the Whale Interpretive Center at the end of the ‘old time’ Telegraph Cove boardwalk. You will frequently see Bald Eagles, Mink, River Otters, Black Bears or even whales before we even leave the dock!
A great itinerary – 3 Full Days kayaking where Orca call home!
First on the water and into Johnstone Strait from delightful Telegraph Cove.
Discover the wildlife and scenery of Johnstone Strait while paddling towards camp and listening to the Orcas with hydrophones;
Enjoy free time at camp – Stay with the group or explore the beach and forest alone;
Seek out the waterfall or laze in a hammock watching for wildlife.
Approximately 5-6 hours a day on the water.
Wonderful food – You will not go hungry
Picnic lunches, hearty breakfasts and spectacular dinners plus delicious deserts, snacks, coffee, tea, various juices and water. Our menus have been specially developed to provide great taste and variety while being safe to carry and nutritious.Don;t worry, we bring some chips and other snacks too.
Ingredients are sourced first from our local communities.
We provide all of the camping and kayaking equipment. Come with the clothing and personal items noted in ‘What to Bring’ and we do the rest.
We even provide you with quality dry bags to keep your clothes and gear dry.
What do I need to bring?
Kayaking is an outdoor activity and the part of the world you will be visiting is identified as being within a Temperate Rainforest. Our summer daytime highs are rarely much over room temperature and our nighttime lows can be described as cool. It Also rains on occasion, sometimes for extended periods.
If you are familiar with spending time outdoors then you are likely already equipped with most of the clothing and accessories that you will need to bring with you. Likewise you are aware that cotton is not your friend when there is any chance of getting wet.
We recommend that you bring two sets of clothing for your kayaking tour. One set that you will primarily wear while in the kayaks. This should consist of layer-able clothes that will cope well and remain comfortable should they get damp or even wet. The second set of clothing is for around camp and should be selected to keep you warm and cozy during the evening. Again layers provide maximum flexibility. Avoid jeans and cotton shirts or sweaters,as once they get damp they can be very tough to dry and provide you with minimal residual warmth. If you can stick with synthetic quick dry materials or wool for your clothing, you will likely have a much better experience in our wilderness.
What you need while on The Water.
- For your head; A hat, cap, or tuque.
- For your upper body; A base layer and a long sleeved mid-layer. A light fleece is also a good idea.
- For your lower body; Non cotton underwear, synthetic shorts or long pants that can be rolled up.
- For your feet; Water shoes or sandals with a heel strap. Do not bring thongs or flip-flops.
- Wool or synthetic socks as your feet will get wet!
- Consider thermal underwear, both top and bottoms for cooler months. Synthetic or wool – No cotton!
- A pair of quality, light-weight rain pants are great to keep you dry when sitting in the kayak.
What you need while at camp.
- Your normal outdoor camping clothes will work fine, but remeber it is always cooler near the water.
- A base layer, a long sleeved mid-layer and a warm sweater, sweatshirt/hoody or outer layer fleece. Warm pants!
- Light hikers, or runners and warm socks for your feet. Do not bring thongs or flip-flops.
- A waterproof jacket, consider waterproof pants too.
- Warm PJ’s and socks to wear to bed.
- A warm synthetic sleeping bag – we can supply this, if required.
Comfort and convenience items.
- A Water Bottle.
- A small towel for drying feet, etc. when getting changed.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm
- Head-light or small torch; It gets very dark once the sun goes down.
- A book or magazine; writing materials or other personal entertainment.
- Personal toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, biodegradable soap, feminine hygiene products, etc.). A packet of Wet Wipes work great for personal hygiene
- Camera and binoculars.
- Pillow Case (to stuff with clothes, etc. for your pillow).
- If you have allergies that require the use of an EPI Pen - Bring It!
Things to consider while packing.
- Avoid cotton – We cannot overstate this! Once it is wet it stays that way and give minimal residual warmth.
- If you are bringing your own sleeping bag, make sure it contains no cotton and will be good in our cool climate.
- Look for one rated to below 0C or 32F.
- It needs to have a compression bag so it can fit in small spaces.
- We can provide a suitable sleeping bag if requested.
- Do not over pack – Space is limited.
- Do not forget to bring one extra set of any medication or corrective lenses.
Our average group size is 5 people, however we conduct our tours with as few as 2 and as many as 12.
While tipping is not mandatory it is very much appreciated. Your guide works very hard to make sure you get everything you hope for from your trip. Go ahead - make their day.
While tipping is not mandatory, if you think you were well looked after a suggested guide tip is 10% of your trip cost.
Ocean touring sea kayaks are surprisingly stable and comfortable, especially the tandem kayaks we use for our less experienced guests. A pre-launch training session will give you some of the basic skills that will help keep you safe while your guides are well versed in paddling, the area and general safety. They are right there with you the whole time to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
Our customers come from all over the world. They may be younger or older than you but you can be sure they are just as excited to be here as you are. We have found that those traveling without children tend to prefer to kayak with adult only groups. In order to try and ensure all of our guests get the maximum enjoyment from our tours we run separate tours for families.
The amount of time on the water will vary but will typically be in the region of 5-6 hours per day.
It will be a fully enclosed Sea Kayak from one of a variety of manufacturers including Seaward Kayaks, Boreal Designs, Necky Kayaks and Current Designs. We prefer to use tandem (2 seater) kayaks for our kayak tours as they provide maximum speed and stability along with plenty of room for the gear. Single seat kayaks are available to appropriately experienced kayakers on request for a small supplement.
Of course you may. We do require it be an appropriate kayak for the type of trip you are undertaking and we will need to utilize space within it for the group gear. Contact us, identifying kayak make and model and we will see what we can do. We do reserve the right to inspect the kayak prior to departure and have you paddle one of our kayaks if necessary.
We choose guides based on many variables. Naturally they must be appropriately qualified and able to kayak, provide instruction and keep you safe on the water, but we demand much more than this. We employ guides from Canada; Many of them have grown up around our coast or have migrated to BC as they have grown up. We employ guides who can interpret our environment; They need to be able to identify our local fauna and flora and communicate their knowledge to you. We look for language skills; Many of our guides are fluent in both English and French, while others bring Spanish or German to the mix.
North Island Kayak has been providing sea kayak tours on northern Vancouver Island since 1991. The current owners took over in 2006.
Yes! To legally conduct these sea kayaking tours, one needs permits from many different organizations including BC Parks, to operate in any of the local marine parks; The BC Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, to utilize any of the government owned lands, Private Individuals and businesses to utilize launch sites, water, etc. and our many North Island First Nations in order to utilize their lands and traditional homes. You can be assured that we have covered all bases. This is a great question to ask anyone who you intend to book a sea kayaking tour with. Permits are time consuming and expensive and not everyone you find on google bothers to adhere. Not only can operation without appropriate permits void any liability insurance they may have but it can also ruin a vacation if ejected from a park or other location.
People of all ages and fitness levels enjoy kayaking as it can be a very low impact activity. You need only be in average physical condition – For our multi-day sea kayak tours, if you can manage an easy day hike, you will likely be able to participate comfortably. Should you have upper body conditions affecting arms, wrists or hands, please contact us.
It can happen – but it is not likely on a guided sea kayaking tour. Part of your pre-launch training session is instruction and demonstration of what to do in the event of capsize. Should it happen, your qualified guides have had extensive training in rescue and have the skills to deal with any situation that may arise. Their focus is on prevention rather than cure.
There have been no incidents involving wild whales and humans or kayaks. On occasion they have come very close and even under our kayaks but we have never had one actually touch us.
You multi-day tour will be returning to Telegraph Cove typically between 3 and 4 pm, however it can occasionally be earlier or later due to weather or logistical reasons. Should you have tight connections to be made on the day of return, please let us know at booking or prior to departure so we can try to meet your expectations. After your trip, why not visit the Whale Museum or relax on the deck of the Old Saltery and watch the comings & goings of Historic Telegraph Cove.
We welcome children on the tours, however we try not to mix adult groups and family groups on the same trip. We can accommodate your children in a number of ways; triple kayaks or paired up in a double with a strong paddler. It is a safe and wonderful experience for kids and as family! We offer discounted rates for children on some tours. For multi-day kayak adventures we have found it is typically best to schedule small family groups, please contact us for further information.
We recommend that you bring two sets of clothing for your kayaking tour. One set that you will primarily wear while in the kayaks. This should consist of layer-able clothes that will cope well and remain comfortable should they get damp or even wet. The second set of clothing is for around camp and should be selected to keep you warm and cozy during the evening. Again layers provide maximum flexibility. Avoid jeans and cotton shirts or sweaters,as once they get damp they can be very tough to dry and provide you with minimal residual warmth. If you can stick with synthetic quick dry materials or wool for your clothing, you will likely have a much better experience in our wilderness. Please take a look at our “What to Bring” page.
One of the most frequent questions we are asked is - Will I see Orcas? The table below details the animals we see and a color coded description of when they are most regularly seen on our sea kayaking tours.
|Green||Expect multiple sightings during your 3 day tour|
|Blue||Expect to see the animal on maybe 1 of your 3 days|
|Yellow||If we are lucky we will see it on one day|
|Orange||50/50 - Do not count on it|
|Red||This is a once a year occurance|
|June||Early July||Mid July||End of July & Early August||Mid to Late August||September|
The calendar below shows the departures dates for our Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari. Please select the date you are interested in and click the "Book Now" button. You will not be requested to provide a credit card at this time as, to avoid disappointment, we need to double check these spaces are still available. You will be taken through some forms that will gather required information. Please complete them as fully as possible. If you are unsure about any questions, please provide you best guess as yours is most likely better than ours!
On completion of these forms, your Booking Request will be forwarded to us, we will double check spaces and send you an email with a link to our Secure Credit Card gateway where you can pay the required Deposit. If we are sold out of the tour you specify, we will suggest any alternatives we may have. If you need immediate confirmation of space, please call us on (250) 928-3114 or 1-877-949-7707.
You should wait until you have received confirmation and payment instruction from us before you commit to related travel expenses.
Hanson Hide-Away Base Camp featuring the ‘Orca Lounge’
Spy Hop Point - Johnstone Strait
Square Notch Bay - Blackfish Sound - Hanson Island
Kaikash Creek Orca Camp - Johnstone Strait
We specifically selected this beach in Johnstone Strait for the home of the Kaikash Creek Orca Camp because it has so many benefits over other beaches in Johnstone Strait. We believe it offers the best possible location on the Vancouver Island shoreline to serve as a base for sea kayaking tours, when your goal is too see Wild Killer Whales and other local marine wildlife, in their natural environment.