Family Overnight and Three Day Adventures
July to September
Overnight Adventures June 5th - September 4th
Three Day Adventures June 4th - September 3rd
The North Island Kayak Overnight Sea Kayaking Wildlife Adventure focuses on the North East of Vancouver Island near Telegraph Cove. We paddle Johnstone Strait and the narrow tidal passages around Hanson island in search of marine wildlife in its natural environment. A unique kayak tour led by our experienced, qualified guides using top quality equipment, optimized for wildlife viewing and a safe, fun experience.
The opportunities abound to see Humpback Whales, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, bald eagles, black bears, numerous sea birds and the spectacular rugged scenery of northern Vancouver Island. On occasion, if we are lucky, we will even see some of the elusive and fast-moving transient or Biggs mammal eating Killer Whales. We maximize the time spent paddling and having fun by utilizing one of the six comfortable wilderness Base Camps that we erect every spring. These camps are scattered throughout the area, with specific locations selected to provide easy access to varying localized habitats. Each trip will utilize different camps based on environmental factors like tides, currents and forecast weather with a mind to optimize wildlife observation opportunities and provide an enjoyable, safe and accessible kayaking experience. The base camps are all similarly equipped with comfortable facilities but each provides a different view and exploration opportunities. North Island Kayak is unique in this area in being able to provide a 2-day sea kayaking tour, showcasing what this spectacular wilderness area has to offer while being assured of a comfortable base camp at night.
You need to arrive at our store adjacent to the kayak launch ramp in Telegraph Cove at 8-45am 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.
For both the Overnight and Three Day Adventures we will select our Base Camps one of the six we have in the area in order to provide the best opportunities of finding Humpback Whales and Stellar sea lions, while taking the weather forcast, tides and currents into consideration. We will ensure you are comfortable by assisting to develop your paddling technique as we paddle along the shoreline of Vancouver Island or accross Johnstone Strait. As you glide along in your sleek, non-intrusive Kayak, we will 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 two 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 night.
During the day we will poke around some tidal shallows to find intertidal critters; watch for Bald Eagles and their nests; see the inquisitive Dall’s Porpoises and if we are lucky spot a Black Bear turning rocks, looking for breakfast. 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 night. 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 your home for the night. Just because we are on shore does not mean that spectacular wildlife encounters are over for the day.
The days paddling and the fresh air will likely have caused you an appetite, which will be satisfied by our healthy and filling dinner from our beach-side BBQ. After dinner, enjoy some games, take a stroll and explore the beach or surrounding forest. 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.
You will wake up to a camp breakfast cooking and the aroma of coffee. Once the kayaks are packed, you will paddle once more among the marine mammals of the Pacific Northwest .
Should you be up for a Three Day Adventure, your journey would continue for another day. Spend one more day in the wilderness and explore wonders of Blackfish Sound. Enjoy a second evening at one of our remote beach camps and dinner from our 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.
If you are on our Overnight Adventure, after breakfast you will pack up and prepare for your journey back to Telegraph Cove. The route home will vary depending on our afternoon weather forecast but our focus will remain on wildlife viewing.
For either our Overnight or Three Day Adventures, the final lunch will be had on a remote beach before the last leg towards Telegraph Cove. On arrival at around 3:30pm 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 with the best possible wildlife and kayaking experience.
During May, as the days get longer the cold, nutrient-rich waters around north Vancouver Island teem with plankton, krill and small fish. This is the favourite food of the Humpback Whales who return from their southern winter breeding grounds to gorge after a fast of almost six months. Their predictable feeding patterns make finding them easy and watching them a pleasure. The numbers of these gentle giants visiting the area have been increasing dramatically in recent years as their overall population rebounds now we no longer hunt them
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.
The Transient, mammal eating Killer Whales, recently renamed Biggs Killer Whales are present in the area year round but seeing them is not a predicatble event. When we do see them, they are typically moving fast, so sightings are brief and occur only once or twice every couple of weeks. If they happen to be hunting on the occasions when we see them, it can a spectacular and memorable event.
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 north island 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 leave the dock!
A great itinerary – 2 Full Days kayaking our north island wilderness!
First on the water and into Johnstone Strait from delightful Telegraph Cove.
Discover the wildlife and scenery of Johnstone Strait while paddling towards camp.
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.
Approximately 5-6 hours a day on the water.
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 to bring
What do I need to Bring on my multi-day kayaking adventure?
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 paddling. 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 – something with a peak or brim is ideal in the rain.
- For your upper body; A base layer, a long sleeve mid-layer and a light Fleece or other warm non-cotton sweater.
- For your lower body; Non cotton underwear & shorts or long pants – long synthetic or wool underwear under shorts can be a great combination.
- For your feet; Wool or synthetic socks – bring a few pairs, your feet will get wet. Water shoes or sandals. Rubber boots can also be good unless you have big feet.
- Consider a pair of quality, light-weight rain pants. Frequently you will sit on something wet.
- Gloves – Look for paddling or cycling gloves to keep hands dry & blister free.
What you need while at camp
- Your normal outdoor camping wear will typically work fine but remember it is always cooler near the water. Synthetics and wools are again better than cotton.
- We provide you a jacket for paddling but bring rainwear or other outdoor jacket to wear at camp.
- A base layer, a long sleeved mid-layer and a warm sweater, sweatshirt/hoody or outer layer fleece. Warm pants. Bring one layer more than you think you need!
- Hiking shoe or running shoe & warm wool socks. Do not bring thongs or flip-flops.
- Warm nightwear & a Pillow Case (to stuff with clothes, etc. for your pillow)
- When we have campfires, they frequently emit sparks; consider bringing an old top layer.
Comfort and convenience items
- A water bottle.
- Camera and binoculars.
- Small hand towel and a face cloth.
- Sunscreen, lip balm & bug repellant.
- Sunglasses and a retainer
- Head Light (for reading in your tent and to light your way to the washroom)
- Book/magazine, writing materials or other personal entertainment.
- Personal toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, biodegradable soap, feminine hygiene products, etc.) – A packet of Wet Wipes works great to help personal hygiene.
- If bringing any electrical/ electronics, bring spare batteries or a portable recharging unit. There are no power outlets.
- If you must bring your phone, consider investing in a waterproof case for it.
- If you have allergies for which you carry an EPI Pen – Bring it!
- An extra set of any essential medication and correctional lenses.
- Alcohol and/or Pop. We do not supply this and there are no stores after we leave Telegraph Cove. The general store in Telegraph Cove sells beer, wine, spirits & pop.
Please try to avoid bringing too much as space is limited.
If you do not have your own sleeping bag or prefer not to bring it, we have one pre-packed for you to use at no charge. Our bags are cleaned after every use and are rated to 0°C (32°F) or lower.
If you choose to bring your own sleeping bag, please make sure it has no cotton in the lining and that it has a compression style stuff sack. Place a garbage bag inside the compression sack and stuff your sleeping bag inside the garbage bag, inside the compression bag. Squeeze out the air, twist the neck of the garbage bag to keep out any moisture and close the compression stuff sack.
Did we mention to avoid cotton?
Honestly and joking aside, we cannot overstate this. Once cotton gets wet it stays that way and provides minimal residual warmth. Synthetic materials and better yet wool, are your best bet.
Do not forget to check the label on your underwear, virtually everything you choose to sit on will be damp. Wet cotton next to your skin will become very unpleasant very quickly; ask any toddler.
How to Pack for my Multi-Day Kayak Tour
We provide you two dry bags; one 10 and one 20 litre bag per person. When you arrive in Telegraph Cove before your trip, please feel free to come pick them up so you can pack in the comfort of your room.
The 10 litre dry bag will be your day bag, in other words the bag you will have access to on the water. We suggest you put the following items in your day bag:
- Small camera and/or binoculars - If bringing a large or expensive camera, see below.
- Extra sweater
- Sunscreen & lip balm
The 20 litre dry bag will be your overnight bag, put things in here that you will want once you get to camp and won’t need access to on the water.
- All camp clothes and spare clean, dry paddling clothes
- Personal toiletries.
- Towel, book/magazine
- Head light, spare batteries, car keys, money & travel documents, etc. Place these items in zip-lock bags for extra protection.
- Do not put shoes, rain jackets, drinks, etc. in the dry bag.
Do not fill the dry bags more then 3/4’s full in order to properly close them, squeeze all the air out, roll the top over itself 3 times and do up the buckles. Your bags will now keep your belongings dry!
How to pack my Camera
Salt water & DSLR can spell trouble if not looked after. What to carry it in becomes a compromise between ease of access and security. The most secure way to carry it is in a hard shell waterproof case; an otterbox for instance, however this can be difficult to stow and awkward to open while on the water. Next best would be a good quality dry bag. Take your camera with the lens you expect to use to a good outdoor store and find a dry bag that fits your camera well, but leaves enough room for you to get your hands in and around it. There also needs to be enough room to have a small super absorbent cloth so you can ensure your hands are dry when inserting and removing the camera. Both these options would have the camera and case strapped to the deck of the kayak under bungee lines. Consider adding a carabiner or similar locking mechanism to ensure the container remains secure.
When you want to take a photo, you remove the camera from its protection, take the photo, replace the camera and reseal it. Never put it down on the spray skirt or kayak deck. We usually recommend against changing lenses while on the water.
It is also worth checking your home or travel insurance policy. Most camera equipment can be covered for loss or damage by this policy. You may need to register serial numbers, etc. with the insurance company.
Brilliant Summer of 2020 We went on a 4 day kayaking trip with Our guide was Dan. The trip was honestly one the most memorable and magical trips I’ve ever had. We saw humpbacks, orcas and all the other wildlife telegraph cove has to offer. Our guide Dan was phenomenal. Having someone with us who has such a genuine interest and love of what he does made our trip more special. The food was sensational and the camp areas were great also. 10/10 loved it. Ps we miss you Dan!
Incredible trip with Bree and amazing staff overall at North Island Kayak Had an amazing three-day orca trip guided by Bree! Bree was an amazing guide on all fronts -- she was extremely knowledgeable about the whales and other fauna, flora and mushrooms; she also was excellent with the currents and keeping the group happy (and she was an amazing cook, especially the salmon dinner and hot salmon melt sandwiches after a cold paddle the next morning). She knows where to go -- we saw whales every day, including a whole pod about 10 m offshore the first evening. I cannot recommend her or North Island Kayak enough.
Multi-day Ocean Kayak Tour I went on a multi-day ocean kayaking trip last week, organised by North Island Kayak. It was a fantastic adventure. In particular, our guide - Tristan - was phenomenal and made the trip that much more enjoyable. He was knowledgeable about the environment and put us in a great position each day to see whales and other wildlife. The right guide can 'make or break' a trip like this and Tristan was easy-going and attentive to the kayakers, in equal measure; he made sure everyone was having a good time. I normally don't hold out high hopes for cuisine when I'm camping but Tristan handled all of the cooking and 'knocked it out of the ballpark' every time. I highly recommend Tristan and North Island Kayak.
Exceptional Guiding Our guide Bree was wonderful. Her expertise, local knowledge and ecological insight made the trip. We highly recommend her and North Island Kayak.
North island kayaks rule! I went on a 3 day kayak trip with our amazing guide, Bree Roberts. She was so knowledgeable of the whales, plants and indigenous communities. She was fun and kept us all very safe. We also had incredible meals, celebrated my birthday with chocolate cake, and had plenty of time for rest and relaxation. I loved it and want to go back again and again.
Ocean Kayak Tour Fabulous trip with Guide Bree Roberts - smooth safe kayaking with a very thorough guide - safety and geared to older ladies who like adventure! Bree’s personally and cooking were 10/10. Highly recommend! Good company - awesome tents, food and we saw killer and humpback whales along with porpoises! I felt safe and enjoyed the days on the ocean
Great Week My 6 day trip with Bree was great. The group was small enough to cater the trip to us as we went, and what a time it was. I lost count of the whales we saw, not to mention the bear and countless fish.
Awe inspiring 3 day paddle! My wife and I spent 3 great days paddling Blackfish sound and Johnstone Strait with our very capable guides Bree and Thon(sp). We had many mammal encounters, but the scenery and the intertidal sealife was also amazing to see.
Thon was a hardworking guide, and Bree was an upbeat and very knowledgeable guide and host, passing on a huge amount of local knowledge about specifics of the sealife in the area. As a result I was able to get some great pictures of the underwater shoreline creatures.
A very memorable adventure, and have already had a friend sign up for a trip on our recommendation.
Great weekend with the lads 4 friends and I went on a 4 day tour with North Island Kayak last week (Sept 2020). We all agreed that the weekend was probably the best weekend any of us have had in 2020.
We saw plenty wildlife and marine life. The campsites which we stayed at were both remote and extremely well equipped. We enjoyed freshly cooked meals throughout our trip and a few beers by the campfire was the perfect way to end the day.
Our tour guide, Tristan, was very knowledgeable on the local area as well as the marine life. Tristan was extremely friendly and greatly added to the fun which our group had.
Overall, a fantastic trip!