North Island Kayak has been providing sea kayak tours on northern Vancouver Island since 1991. The current owners took over in 2006.
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.
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.
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 the “What to Bring” tab on each tour description page.
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 will be a fully enclosed Sea Kayak from one of a variety of manufacturers including Seaward Kayaks, Boreal Designs, Necky Kayaks and Current Designs.To ensure we can provide all guests with a great experience, we predominantly use tandem kayaks on our tours. Our kayaking tours focus on wildlife observation and having fun. As such, we often need to cross open water and paddle against wind or ocean currents to be in an optimal viewing spot. For those who are not experienced ocean kayakers, paddling single kayaks when others are in faster, tandem kayaks can become very tiring, very quickly and have a negative impact on the safety and enjoyment of others in the group. On occasion, if tour capacity allows or there are an odd total number of participants, we may add some single kayaks to the trip, which will be shared among guests interested in paddling them. Unfortunately as people have wildly differing opinions of their skill levels, stamina and endurance, we do not guarantee exclusive use of single kayaks to any of our guests.
While tipping is not mandatory, if you think you were well looked after a suggested guide tip is 10% of your trip cost.
As with all wildlife, the Orcas, Humpback whales & other animals keep their own schedules. The best way to increase chances of seeing these animals is to spend longer in their environment and to visit when they are most plentiful. Each of our tour descriptions has a detailed section called 'Wildlife', it provides a good indication of what we see, when we see it and how frequently.
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.
We prefer to use our kayaks as we are familiar with their capacity and appropriateness for a given trip. We have also found that those who bring their own typically do not wish others to paddle them. Should you really wish to bring your own, 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.
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.
A base camp is an area in the wilderness that we prepare to host our guests throughout the summer. Each spring we set up the tents, kitchen, tarps, BBQ, picnic tables, hammocks, etc. This provide a level of comfort which is not possible, on an expedition style kayaking trip, when we have to carry everything in the kayak with us. Having camps already set up reduces the amount of time we have to spend packing and unpacking equipment each day and allows us more time on the water. It is ideal for you if you only have a couple of days to spend with us as it enables us to really explore the area in light kayaks. It is also great if your only previous camping trips have been from ‘the back of a car’ as a base camp can provide a similar level of comfort. We have made is easy if this is your first time in a tent, or away from permanent campsites?
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.
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.
Our average group size is 5 people, however we conduct our tours with as few as 2 and as many as 12.
There are Orcas in the area around Telegraph Cove all year, but the chances of seeing them are not equal.
The BEST time to see Orcas from a kayak is between the last week of July and the first week of September with most sightings occurring during August. This is when the almost 300 Northern Resident Killer Whales who come every summer to gorge on salmon are most prevalent and active. These whales start to arrive each summer between July 10 & 15 but the smaller numbers at the start of their migration do not always provide predictable opportunities for us to experience them from a kayak. Towards the middle of September their numbers also start to decline as they need to move further each day to find food.
From mid May through the middle of July it is rare to see Orcas as those that inhabit the area at this time tend to be the Transient, or Biggs mammal eating Killer Whales. These whales hunt seals, porpoises and other mammals, rather than salmon. The nature of the prey defines the nature of the predator and mammals are much smarter than fish. To be successful hunters, the Biggs Killer Whales need to be fast and stealthy, so on those occasions when we do see them, it is typically a short experience. They will generally be in the area only a couple of times in any two week period.
For more information, take a look at our 'Wildlife Tab' on each tour description.
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.
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.
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. If you think you were well looked after a suggested guide tip is 10% of your trip cost.
There is no ATM in Telegraph Cove however, you may tip them via your credit or debit card on return to our store.
Go ahead - make their day.
The amount of time on the water will vary but will typically be in the region of 5-6 hours per day.