Sea Kayaking Tours with Killer Whales of Johnstone Sea kayak with killer whales, paddle with Orcas of Robson Bight, sea kayak expeditions to the Broughton Archipelago from Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC) Nomadic sea kayaking expeditions Sea Kayak Rentals Kayaking with killer whales since 1991

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North Island Kayak
Telegraph Cove, BC

Phone +1-250-928-3114
Toll Free 1-877-949-7707

Kayaking with Killer Whales
and other wildlife since 1991

Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari

Jun 3
to Jul 4
Jul 6
to Jul 18
Jul 20
to Sep 1
Sep 3
to Sep 20
Adult $550 $775 $850 $775
Under 18 $550 $725 $800 $725
  • Departures from Telegraph Cove every other day from June through late Sept. at 9am. Returns at 3-30pm on day 3.
  • Odd # days Jun 3 – Jun 29. Even # days in July. Odd # days in Aug & Sept.
  • Three full days All Inclusive kayaking Johnstone Strait, the home of the Orcas from our wilderness base camp;
  • Adult and separate family tours available.
  • Non-intrusive wildlife observation and fun for all; No experience necessary.
  • Experienced guides, great food and top quality equipment – Best value for money!

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Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari

Tour Itinerary

Three Day Orca Sea Kayaking Safari – Day 1

We ask you to arrive at our store adjacent to the kayak launch ramp in Telegraph Cove at 9am 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. Never kayaked before? Within the first 10 minutes you will have grasped the basics.

Orca seen from our Kaikash Creek base camp

We will ensure you are comfortable as we paddle along the shoreline of Vancouver Island in the direction of our 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 next 2 nights. 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 Kaikash Creek Orca Camp 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 in and explore your home for the next two nights. 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, take a stroll and explore the longest beach in the area. 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

River Otters on the dock in Telegraph Cove

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 – no one may 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 your beach camp home 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 aroma of coffee. Once 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 museum before leaving this pristine wilderness haven.

We typically follow this itinerary; however on some occasions need to make changes due to weather or tidal considerations; Our goal will always remain to provide you the best possible wildlife experience.


Tour Features

Seals in Johnstone Strait
Aggregate Anemone

Over 200 Northern Resident Killer Whales call this area home for the summer. These fish-eating mammals forage Johnstone Strait for their favorite food the Chinook Salmon, the largest of the salmon species.
An increasing number of Humpback Whales inhabit these waters, feeding on the abundant amount of krill and herring Johnstone Strait provides. These giants arrive in the Strait in June 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 other sea birds), Pacific white-sided dolphin, Dall’s porpoise, Black bear, mink and salmon.
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.

Telegraph Cove in Johnstone Strait

Departure and return point of choice for killer whale sea kayaking tours.
North Island Kayak is based in Telegraph Cove – No time wasted on a bus transfer – Be first on the water – 9am Start!
You will frequently see Bald Eagles, Mink, River Otters, Black Bears or even whales before we even leave the dock!
Visit the Whale Interpretive Center at the end of the ‘old time’ Telegraph Cove boardwalk.

Kaikash Creek Orca Camp kitchen

In the heart of the Northern Resident Killer Whale protected Critical Habitat.
Covered kitchen, dining and gathering areas; ‘Orca View’ beach-side BBQ.
Quality tents you can stand up in on individual ceder chip bases in the forest.
Longest beach in the area for you to explore – fire-pit, hammocks, games and ocean-side library.
Only 6km from Robson Bight – The whales hunt the kelp beds in front of camp.

A great itinerary – 3 Full Days kayaking the Home of the killer whale!

Sunset in Johnstone Strait

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.

Wonderful food – You will not go hungry

Picnic lunch while kayaking with Killer Whales

3 picnic lunches, 2 hearty breakfasts and 2 spectacular dinners plus delicious deserts, snacks, coffee, tea, various juices and water.
Many of the vegetables served will come from our own greenhouse and eggs from our free range chickens. Other ingredients are sourced first from our local communities.

Quality Equipment

Killer Whale kayak tour of Johnstone Strait

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 to bring

What to bring on my Base Camp Sea Kayaking tour?

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.

Trees in the sun at Bauza Cove

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!

What you need while at camp.

  • Your normal outdoor camping clothes will work fine, but it is always cooler near the water.
  • A base layer and 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 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.)
  • Camera and binoculars.

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.


Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have questions. Please take a look through these as they respond to those we are most frequently asked. Should your question not be addressed, please contact us so we may address it.

I have never sea kayaked before how safe is it?

Ocean touring sea kayaks are surprisingly stable and comfortable. 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.

How many people are usually on the trips?

Our average group size is 5 people, however we conduct our tours with as few as 2 and as many as 12.

Who will be on the trip with me?

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.

How much paddling will we do?

The amount of time on the water will vary but will typically be in the region of 5-6 hours per day.

What will my kayak be like?

It will be a fully enclosed fiberglass Sea Kayak from one of a variety of manufacturers including Seaward Kayaks, Necky Kayaks and Current Designs. We prefer to use tandem (2 seater) kayaks for our multi-day kayak tours as they provide maximum speed and stability along with plenty of room for the gear. Single seat kayaks are available on request for a small supplement.

Can I bring my own kayak?

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.

Should I tip the guides?

Our guides work very hard to ensure you enjoy your trip with us. Tipping is appropriate and forms an integral part of the guides earnings. As a general guidline a tip of 10-15% is the industry norm and will be very much appreciated.

How do you choose your guides

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.

Has North Island Kayak been providing these trips for many years?

North Island Kayak on northern Vancouver Island has been providing kayak tours since 1991. The current owners took over in 2006.

Do you have insurance and all appropriate permits?

Yes! To legally conduct these kayak tours, one needs permits from many different organizations including BC Parks, to operate in any of the local marine parks; The BC Minestry 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.

What kind of physical condition do I need to be in?

People of all ages enjoy ocean kayaking and fitness levels as it can be a very low impact activity. You need only be in average physical condition – For our multi-day 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.

Does anyone ever tip over?

It can happen – but it is not likely on a guided trip. Part of your pre-launch training session is instruction and demonstration of what to do in the event of capsize. Should it happen, uur 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.

Will the whales bother the kayaks?

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.

When will we return to Telegraph Cove?

You multi-day tour will be returning to Telegraph Cove typically between 3 and 4 pm, however it can occasionally be erlier or later due to weather or logistcal 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.

What about children?

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.

What should I wear?

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.

Will I see Killer Whales?

This area of Johnstone Strait is world renowned for the Northern Resident Killer Whales or Orcas who visit every summer. While we are privileged to see them on occasion throughout the year, they are seen most regularly in conjunction with the annual salmon runs. The very best time to be here to see the Orcas is the end of July and throughout August while the start of July and end of September are boundaries for predictable sightings. The table below attempts to give you an indication of the types of animals you may encounter, for any given time, for this specific tour.

3 Day Sea Kayaking Safari
Early July
Mid July
End of July and Early August
Mid to Late August
Marine Mammals
Dalls PorpoiseCommonCommonCommonCommonCommonCommon
Harbor SealsCommonCommonCommonCommonCommonCommon
Pacific White-Sided DolphinsOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalFrequentFrequent
Stellar Sea-LionsFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequent
Minke WhalesRareRareRareRareRareRare
Orcas (or Killer Whales)RareOccasionalFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequent
Humpback WhalesOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalOccasional
Land Mammals
River OttersFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequent
Black BearsFrequentFrequentOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalFrequent
CougarsVery RareVery RareVery RareVery RareVery RareVery Rare
Common=Multiple times per day
Frequent=Almost Daily
Occasional=Every few days
Rare=Once a week
Very Rare=Once a summer