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

Broughton Archipelago Six Day Sea Kayak Expedition

to Jul 5
Jul 6
to Jul 19
Jul 20
to Sept 9
Adult $1300 $1400 $1500
  • Departs Telegraph Cove every Sunday from June 14 until Sept. 9 at 9am. Returns at 3-30pm on day 6
  • Six full days ‘All Inclusive’ exploring Johnstone Strait, Blackfish Sound and the Broughton Archipelago by sea kayak.
  • No kayaking experience necessary.
  • One way nomadic expedition style tour; move camp each night and come home by chartered Water Taxi.
  • Spectacular non-intrusive wildlife observation, rugged scenery and ancient cultural photo opportunities.
  • Experienced guides, great food and top quality equipment – Unmatched opportunity!

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Broughton Archipelago Six Day Sea Kayak Expedition

Tour Itinerary

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.

Killer Whale on a 6 day kayking tour

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. We will stop to stretch our legs and enjoy a picnic lunch on a remote beach and will cross Johnstone Strait towards Hanson Island, our first camp spot of the journey.

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.

You will likely reach 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. 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, 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

Gulls hitching a ride down Johnstone Strait

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 over five 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.

During the fall of 2012, 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. We are hoping the song continues into summer 2013.

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.

Kayaking with killer whales in Jonstone Striat BC

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

kayaking the Burdwoods in the Broughton Archipelago

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.

sunstars on a kayaking trip BC

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

Kayaking to Village Island in the Broughton Archipelago BC

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.


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.

Largest selection of wilderness camp choices

One of the wilderness beaches we camp on in the Broughton Archipelago

We select our nomadic expedition camp spots from the best of those available. They may be on within Park boundaries, on Crown owned land, on First Nation land, private land or in one of the many new conservencaries. Each of these require fees and permits in order to utilize the beaches, islands and marine areas. North Island Kayak specializes in this area and his unique in the number of permits, leases, authorizations and approvals we have negotiated to operate here.

Having so much choice over where to paddle and where to camp translates into providing you the most spectacular and unforgettable trip possible.

A great itinerary – 6 Full Days expedition sea kayaking in a scenic wildlife paradise

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;
Paddle Blackney Passage, Blackfish sound, Knight Inlet and into the Broughton Archipelago. Investigate the shallows in search of colorful, inter-tidal creatures. Spend time drifting with the currents and paddling the waters less traveled.
Change camp every day. Stay on tiny islands.

Wonderful food – You will not go hungry

Picnic lunch while kayaking with Killer Whales

6 picnic lunches, 5 hearty breakfasts and 5 spectacular dinners plus delicious deserts, snacks, coffee, tea, various juices and water. Food seems to taste so much better out in the wilderness. No pre-packaged, dehydrated meals on these trips!
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 nomadic expedition 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.

Camp set up in the wilderness on a kayaking tour of Johnstone Strait BC

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 or Humpback whales?

This area of Johnstone Strait is world renowned for the Northern Resident Killer Whales or Orca 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 Orca is the end of July and throughout August while the start of July and end of September are boundaries for predictable sightings.

The Humpback Whales feed on concentrations of krill and small fish. These high density feeding opportunities happen more frequently in and around the areas of high tidal currents found to the east and west of Hanson Island. The 4 day tour allows us to spend time in these areas as it uses our Hanson Hide-Away base camp for two the the three nights you are out.

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.

Broughton Archipelago Six Day Sea Kayak Expedition
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 WhalesRareRareFrequentRareRareRare
Orcas (or Killer Whales)RareOccasionalFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequent
Humpback WhalesFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequentFrequent
Land Mammals
River OttersOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalOccasionalO
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