|Jun 14th - Jun 29th||Jul 5th - Jul 12th||Jul 19th - Sep 6th|
Spend 6 whole days exploring Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait and probe deep into the islands of the Broughton Archipelago by sea kayak, on a spectacular one way nomadic tour combining the spectacular wildlife and the ancient history of those that have lived here for thousands of years. We go in search of wild Killer Whales or Orcas and Humpback Whales in their natural environment, before leaving the deep water behind to explore ancient village sites with white shell beaches and discover sheltered coves where we will camp for the night, led by our experienced, qualified guides using top quality equipment. Opportunities to also see sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, bald eagles, black bears, numerous sea birds and the spectacular rugged scenery around Robson Bight.
Non-intrusive wildlife observation, spectacular scenery and First Nation history on a one way nomadic expedition.
Telegraph Cove, Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canada.
Start and End Time:
Starts at 0830 on Day 1 and returns by boat at approx. 1530 on Day 6.
Every Sundy from early June until late September.
Camping accommodation at one of our fully equipped, waterfront wilderness Base Camps followed by 4 nights at 'wilderness paddle in' camps within the park. All camp equipment provided.
Lunch & Dinner on Day 1; Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on Day 2, 3, 4 & 5; Breakfast & Lunch on Day 6.
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. Family trips available.
The itinerary for the Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition spends the first 3 days in the areas known to be the primary summer range of Northern Resident Orca (killer whale) population and the summer feeding grounds of an ever increasing number of Humpback Whales, followed by 3 days meandering through the maze of islands that make up the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park and eventually reaching the distant Burdwoods Conservancy. We maximize the time spent in these areas by spending the first night out at one of the six wilderness base camps that we erect every spring and utilizing a combination of BC Park provided 'paddle in' remote wilderness camps for the remaining nights when in the Park. The Broughton Archipelago Marine Park camps are available on a 'first come, first served' basis so when we camp here we erect tents and utilize sleeping mats we carry with us in the kayaks.
Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition – Day 1
Your Six Day Broughton Archipelago Kayak Expedition departs from the boat ramp located adjacent to our store in Telegraph Cove. You are welcome to come visit us, at your convenience in the days before the tour with any of those last minute questions or to pick up dry bags for your gear. Alternately we meet you at 8-30am on the morning of your trip. Your professional kayak guide will be here to greet you with dry bags and advice on how to pack. We recommend that you will have already had your breakfast – the Seahorse Café located right in the Cove can look after most tastes.
Your kayaks will be already loaded with all the camping and group equipment with space left for your gear. The tour starts with introductions to your fellow adventurers and a brief safety and paddling technique discussion to ensure your comfort on the water. After being fitted to your kayak you will be ready for launch. This tour is typically on the water before 9-30am while other companies are still unloading kayaks from their trailers. 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 remote beach camp site. 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 there are six spectacular days of opportunity in front of you. During the day 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 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.
We will stop to stretch our legs and enjoy a picnic lunch on a remote beach before continuing on towards the boundaries of the Robson Bight ecological reserve or crossing Johnstone Strait before the frequent afternoon winds arrive. Our first camp will be one of the six wilderness base camps we set up each spring. These sites are specifically chosen to give us the best views and wildlife opportunities and ensure we have a spectacular spot for your first night out. Being 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, Stellar 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, take a stroll and explore the beach or 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 the feeling of sleeping under the stars that only a camping experience can provide.
Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition – Day 2
If you are not already up to see the sunrise your guide will call you to coffee and breakfast. Our plan for the day will have us heading through Blackney or Weynton Passage and into Blackfish Sound and the lower reaches of the Broughton Archipelago. The tide times and weather forecast will be the driving factor of this journey as there are only four times a day, with fairly narrow windows of opportunity that it is safe to kayak through these passages. This is due to the tidal currents that can reach speeds of up to six knots (10km/h); it is only safe to paddle when these tidal currents swap direction.
The tidal currents are one of the factors that contribute to the diversity and quantity of marine wildlife in the area. It is not uncommon to see Humpback whales feeding on the krill and bait-fish, Sea Lions or Orcas gorging on Salmon along with an abundance of seabirds. During the course of the day, we will either stop for lunch or grab a snack on the water.
We always carry at least one research grade hydrophone on our sea kayaking tours. When we find ourselves in the vicinity of a pod of Orca, your guide will deploy the hydrophone so we may hear them communicating. 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.
Recently the Humpback whales we have in the area started singing. This is a new and exciting development as singing was thought only to occur when they were in warm waters and intent on breeding. Once through into Blackfish Sound, you will enter the western gateway of the Broughton Archipelago. A region of hundreds of islands and passages, it almost seems as though it was created as a kayak paradise. Rich in marine and land animals it is a place that is still the ancestral homeland of six Kwakwaka’wakw tribes.
Evidence of their ancestors’ existence is still found to this day. Abandoned ancient village sites and harvest areas have beaches made up of white shell from countless shellfish harvests. Black soils known as middens lay testament to occupation by the Kwakwaka’wakw within the forest just off the beach. The beaches in many locations have boulders pushed to the side leaving a clear path so that cedar canoes would not be damaged through the centuries. These sites make for great areas to land kayaks to this day. We will pitch camp on one of the multitude of small islands that populate this area, where your guide will again prepare a great dinner for you.
Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition – Day 3
Almost as soon as you fall asleep, the third day of your tour will dawn. After breakfast we will break camp and you will be back in your kayaks to head out through narrow island channels and passages that offer great shelter in summer winds. The rain forest grows right down to the waters edge with branches cloaked in moss and morning dew. Our route will take us by an ancient rock painting on a cliff adjacent to a traditional burial site. This is a very culturally sensitive site for the Mamalelaqala Band and other Kwakwaka’wakw, so we only enjoy this spot from our kayaks. No one is allowed to actually enter the site. We will choose a remote island beach for lunch before moving heading onwards.
After lunch you will take to our kayaks and will head off towards our campsite for the night. From witnessing the jaw-dropping beauty of this part of the world, you may start to understand why people choose to live out here in the wilderness. Throughout the day there will be opportunities to observe a multitude of creatures and paddle between tiny islands with a new and even more breathtaking view around each corner. Your guide will once more surprise you with their culinary skills to ensure you do not go to bed hungry. On a clear night, be sure to sit up late as the lack of light pollution this far away from civilization allows for spectacular star-gazing on dark, moonless nights.
Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition – Day 4
After breakfast on day four we will break camp and head out between the islands, leaving the whales behind us, to head deep into the Broughton Archipelago. Our route will take us further north towards the mainland using channels between deserted islands and passing small First Nation settlements. We will stop on another beach for lunch before paddling to our campsite for the night. Exactly where we choose to camp for the night will depend on the weather forecast and the direction of the tides, however you can be sure that the scenery will be second to none and that we will encounter all sorts of wildlife.
In this area some of the islands remain numbered but unnamed. One of these forms our target campsite for the night. Please feel free to name these islands yourself as we find them! Once camp is set, you will again enjoy your dinner as the sun starts its descent over the horizon
Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition – Day 5
Day five will start with breakfast, after which we will break camp and head out for another day of paddling. The route will take us around Islands and Coves and into the more remote areas of the Archipelago. Hopefully Billy Proctor will be around to open his museum and to share some of his lifetime of stories with us. Our destination today will be in among Islands called Fly, Insect and The Burdwoods where we will again see ancient evidence of those that have called this beautiful area home. You must remember to look and not touch; island beaches out this far still have artifacts of important aboriginal history and value.
We can visit these islands only with the understanding that we leave no trace of our passing and with due respect to the ancient culture of the native bands. We will camp on one of these islands for our final night in the wilderness and sleep knowing that the ancestors of the Kwakwaka’wakw are resting undisturbed by our passage through their territory.
Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition – Day 6
Our final breakfast will come all to soon, no matter how many days you spend in this area there always seems to be one day too few. Once camp is broken we will get on the water and start heading to our rendezvous with the water taxi.
Were there any spots that must be re-visited for a final photograph? Maybe we can find a way to paddle by, or should we see what is round just one more corner? There is still time to explore and relax as the water taxi will be coming to collect you, usually at your lunch beach, at around 2-30pm.
Once all kayaks and gear are stowed safely on the water taxi, the exhilarating 45 minute water taxi ride will return you to Telegraph Cove for around 3-30pm. Opportunities for encounters with all sorts of wildlife abound during this ride.
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 experience. On some occasions it will not be practical or desirable to change camp every day.
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.
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!
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.
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 average group size is 5 people, however we conduct our tours with as few as 2 and as many as 12.
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.
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.
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?
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 4 day tour.|
|Blue||Expect to see the animal on maybe 2 of your 4 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 Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition. 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
Broughton Archipelago Marine Park
Robson Bight - Johnstone Strait
The Robson Bight Ecological Reserve was established in 1982 as a protected area for the Northern Resident killer whale, or Orca population. The area hosts a couple of beaches that have been traditionally used by this poulation of whales as rubbing beaches. Not only is the water surrounding the area protected to the extent that entering it is prohibited, but the upland area has been protecetd from logging in an attempt to preserve this unique area.