Sea Kayaking Trips Telegraph Cove
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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

Johnstone Strait Wildlife Opportunity Guided Sea Kayaking Day Trip

May 18th - Jun 30thJul 1st - Jul 19thJul 20th - Sep 22nd
Under 14
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Sea kayaking day trip from telegraph cove into johnstone strait to see killer whales

Take a day and spend it getting back to nature. The Johnstone Strait Wildlife Opportunity Guided Sea Kayaking Day Trip is a journey into the wilderness.

Trip Focus: 

Family fun and relaxed nature interpretation

Start Location:

Telegraph Cove, Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canada.

Start and End Time:

Starts at 9-45am and returns between 4 & 4-30pm

Start Dates:

Every day from May 18 to September 14

Meals Included:

None. Bring a lunch and something to drink

Experience Required:

None. We use stable tandem Sea Kayaks and provide all required kayaking equipment


This trip is suitable for all over 10 years


Here top marine predators share the ocean with cute furry critters and slimy underwater creatures from the deep. You will paddle the rugged shoreline of Vancouver Island, poking into the shallows, under eagles nests in trees draped with rain forest vegetation and explore the shores of tiny islands surrounded by deep water, where whales sing and dolphins play.

rhinoceros auklets flying in johnstone strait, british columbi


black bear feeding on grass seen from a kayak near telegraph cove, british columbia, bc

The Johnstone Strait Wildlife Opportunity Guided Sea Kayaking Day Trip departs from our store adjacent to the boat ramp in picturesque Telegraph Cove on northern Vancouver Island. You will need to arrive here by 9-45 am on the day of your tour as we plan to be on the water by 10 to 10-15am. 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 into the natural harbor of Telegraph Cove. Here you will have some time to get used to being afloat before we head through the narrow opening to Johnstone Strait and the seemingly unending wilderness beyond.

The day’s route will take you North Easterly with the spectacular, rugged coast of Vancouver Island on your right, the distant mountains of mainland BC on your left and the realm of the Orca in between. Our tours focus on the journey; we try to ensure that all stress is left behind in the parking lot. The tour route provides our guides with the opportunity to share with you, their knowledge of the area, intertidal creatures, plants and depending on how your luck is running, Orcas or Killer Whales & other whales, Pacific Harbor Seals, sea lions, dolphins & porpoises, deer, mink, river otters, Bald Eagles and Black Bears; All in their natural environment. It follows a meandering route that will explore the islands and coves that dot this part of the coast. Emphasis is on wildlife, scenery and nature interpretation; however our guides will be more than happy to provide ongoing instruction to improve your paddling technique.

Orca and kayaks with Telegraph Cove, British Columbia, Canada in the background on a sea kayaking day tripThe chance of seeing the Killer Whales or Orcas while kayaking are about 50% from mid-July through September and slightly higher in August. Much better than the chance of winning the lottery! Before mid-July, it is unlikely to see the Orcas on a day trip as there is not enough salmon, in the area the day trip paddles, at that time of year.

Our guides all carry marine VHF radios and monitor the local chatter to ensure that we never miss an opportunity to see whales, bears or other wildlife. They also carry hydrophones, an underwater microphone with an external amplifier. Should there be whales nearby, these enable us to hear them as well as see them!

Bring your lunch and something to drink as we will stop for a while at lunchtime, on a remote beach overlooking Johnstone Strait. Marine wildlife frequents this area so keep your eyes peeled; we have had some incredible marine mammal sighting from the beach during lunch.

After our lunch stop we begin the paddle back to Telegraph Cove, again we will stop to explore areas that abound with the intertidal & invertebrate life that thrives in our cold, nutrient rich waters. We regularly see Sea Urchins of various colors, Purple Stars, Bat Stars, Sunflower Stars with many legs, Brittle Stars, all sorts of crabs and other shellfish and the ever present Bull Kelp. Naturally, if opportunity to observe the lager mammals occurs, we will take it. We plan to arrive back in Telegraph Cove at between 4 and 4-30pm.

This tour is suitable for the whole family but due to its duration we do recommend that your children be over 10 years of age to participate. Should you wish to bring children younger than this, please contact us to discuss a private day trip. No previous experience is required as we use very stable two and three seat, enclosed sea kayaks, provide all paddling equipment, utilize qualified sea kayak guides and conduct a pre-departure training and safety briefing.

To avoid disappointment, pre-booking is strongly advised.

paddling back to Telegraph Cove after a sea kayaking day trip of Johnstone Strait

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A start point like no other.

river otters on the dock intelegraph cove bc at the start of our sea kayaking day tripWe are located at the Boat Ramp in Telegraph Cove, the access point to the wilderness at the end of the road.

  • There is convenient pay parking right next to our store.
  • We launch the kayaks from the heart of Telegraph Cove.
  • Paddle for 2 minutes and you are out into Johnstone Strait.
  • We frequently see eagles, mink & otters before we even leave the boat ramp.

All Equipment Provided

We provide all of the 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 camera and other belongings dry.

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What to Bring on my Johnstone Strait Wildlife Opportunity Guided Sea Kayaking Day Trip

This is a water sport and you will get a little wet while getting in and out of the kayak.

  • Something to drinkl Water works great!
  • Lunch - We will stop for lunch on a remote beach. The Seahorse Cafe right in Telegraph Cove can prepare you a great bagged lunch.
  • Shoes you do not mind getting soaked as you will get your feet wet. Please do not bring flip-flops or thongs as these have been the cause of many cuts and falls on the boat ramp and beaches.
  • Board shorts or long synthetic pants work well for your lower body.
  • Layers work well for the upper half.
  • Bring a hat or cap; they work great to keep you warm, keep the sun out of your eyes or the rain off your head.
  • Sunscreen; even if the sun is not shining, UV rays get reflected from the water and will burn you.
  • A camera or binoculars; We will provide a dry bag to keep them safe and dry.
  • If you have allergies that require the use of an EPI Pen - Bring It!

For maximum comfort while kayaking avoid cotton clothing, this includes jeans.

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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.

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.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. 

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.

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 the “What to Bring” tab on each tour description page.

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As Killer whales, sea lions and bears are the top predators in their environment, the chances of seeing them are mostly a factor of how long you spend in their world and when you choose to come to Telegraph Cove.

  • The best time to see killer whales on a day trip is August when just over half of our Johnstone Strait Wildlife Opportunity Guided Sea Kayaking Day Trip will see them.
  • We see them mid-July through mid-September on around 40-50% of our Johnstone Strait Wildlife Opportunity Guided Sea Kayaking Day Trips,
  • Bears and Sea Lions are usually seen more often in June, early July and mid to late September.

Fortunately, while maybe not as exhilarating as the big mammals, there are many other critters and spectacular sights that we can find on every trip.

 * The creatures listed below are in order of sighting probability - Those near the top, we will see most often.

June Early July Mid July End of July to Mid August Mid Aug to Mid Sept Mid Sept to End Sept
Bald Eagles
Dall’s Porpoise
Harbor Seals
American Mink
North American River Otters
Killer Whales - Orcas
Black Bears
Steller Sea Lions
Humpback Whales

Color Code

very rare
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Select the date you wish to join and click 'Book Now'. You will be asked to fill in your contact details and to review the Terms & Conditions. You will be taken to our secure payment page and asked for a credit card. While payment is processing, you will be asked to give information about your party and then given an option to print the invoice (PDF). A copy of this transaction will be automatically emailed to you.

If you need any assistance or would prefer a real person to deal with we will be happy to hear from you. Call us (+1-250-928-3114 or 1-877-949-7707), or email us


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Birds on a log in Johnstone Strait

Johnstone Strait

Kayak with the Orcas in Johnstone Strait, the internationally renowned best place in the world to view Killer Whales in the wild. It is located between the northeastern end of Vancouver Island and the coastal British Columbia (BC) mainland.

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