Guided Half Day Trip
May to September
May 17th - June 30th
July 1st - September 23rd
Join us for 4 hours of non-intrusive sea kayaking in the dynamic Johnstone Strait! Our half day trip spends either the morning or afternoon exploring islands, remote beaches and the rugged coastal shallows Vancouver Island. This tour is designed to be comfortable and approachable for all. Your guide will ensure you are both comfortable and delighted as you enjoy this introductory sea kayaking experience.
Sit overtop shallow underwater habitats, home to weird and wonderful intertidal creatures. Venture to deeper water and see watch bald eagles fishing, seals sunbathing and porpoises calmly trolling by. With an emphasis on wildlife encounters, scenery and nature interpretation our professional and experienced guides will ensure your experience is one to remember!
Though our shorter tours are sometimes treated to incredible orca, humpback, sea lion and dolphin encounters, we do not guarantee any larger marine mammal sightings. If larger wildlife is something you would like to see, consider joining us on a multi-day tour! Generally speaking, the longer you spend on the water the better your chances of spotting wildlife become.
Spend 4 hours kayaking and enjoying the unparalleled scenery and wildlife of the area around Telegraph Cove. This tour is just long enough for there to be real opportunities for encounters with all sorts of wildlife, especially during mid-July through early September.
The tour route provides our guides with the opportunity to share their knowledge of the area with you as well as interpret intertidal creatures, plants and depending on how your luck is running: orca, seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, deer, mink, river otters, bald eagles and black bears; All in their natural environment.
We realize that it’s hard not to have high expectations of seeing orca up close, however it’s important to keep in mind that we only provide the opportunity. An encounter with these magnificent creatures while in a kayak is a very unique, unforgettable experience. With this in mind our tour will keep you in the areas known to be frequented by these spectacular mammals for as long as we can. Our guides all carry marine VHF radios and monitor the local chatter to ensure that we never miss an opportunity. 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!
The Johnstone Strait Half Day Guided Sea Kayaking Trip is suitable for you, whether you are new to kayaking or have kayaked before. It is great for both adults and children over 8. It can be a fun and rewarding introduction to the wilderness and the creatures who call it home. No previous experience is required as we use very stable two and three seat, enclosed sea kayaks, provide all paddling equipment, employ qualified sea kayak guides and conduct a pre-departure training and safety briefing.
With two half day trips scheduled to depart every day, there is sure to be one that meets your schedule. The morning tour starts at 8am and returns at approximately noon, while the afternoon tour starts at 1pm and returns at approximately 5pm. This allows those who are interested to spend a day both kayaking and taking a trip on a Prince of Whales whale watching boat, which departs just a few steps down the boardwalk.
As we run these tours with small group sizes it is important that you pre-book in order to avoid disappointment.
It is important to understand the seasonal nature of the ecosystem we operate in. The Queen Charlotte and Johnstone Straits attract an abundance of marine mammals in the summers, but are much quieter in the winters. Because of this seasonality, we ask guests to pair their wildlife hopes appropriately with the dates of their visit. Please see our wildlife seasonality graph below:
Wildlife seasonality graph coming soon
Over 200 Northern Resident Orcas call this area home for the summer. These oceanic mammals travel in family pods and forage in the Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits for their favourite food, chinook salmon. They reside in the Straits for two months on average, typically arriving around mid July and staying until early September.
Larger more nomadic transient orca (Bigg’s) are seen sporadically in the waters as well. They travel and behave less predictably but occasionally pass by in a typical quiet, stealthy fashion. (Unless a porpoise crosses their path…).
Steller Sea Lions
Some Steller sea lions, the largest of the sea lions, call this area home year round. However, many more arrive in August and can be seen, and smelled, hauled out on their favourite rocks in groups sometimes larger than 40. Sea Lions are curious creatures and we can often be joined for short whiles by friendly pairs when we are paddling in Blackfish Sound.
Year Round Wildlife
Harbor seals, bald eagles, pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, black bears, minks and salmon are spotted year round in the straits. The cold, nutrient rich waters create an incredible ecosystem. Beyond mammals, the abundant intertidal life in the straits is often underrated: sea stars, chitons, barnacles, limpids, anemones and urchins thrive in the straits and are often easy to find at low tide. Their alien forms and behaviours are both interesting and illuminative as some intertidal creatures’ physical structures have remained relatively unchanged for over half a billion years.
Historic Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
Telegraph Cove is a community of around 20 year round inhabitants, on Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. It is approximately 200 km northwest of Campbell River by car. It was formerly home to a cannery, a mill for the Canadian Air Force, a telegraph post, and now serves as a starting point for many forms of eco-tourism.
Telegraph Cove is the departure and return point of all our trips. Because we are based in the cove we have priority access to boat launches, allowing you to be first on the water. After only 2 minutes of paddling you will be in the heart of the dynamic Johnstone Strait.
Telegraph Cove and its nearest neighbouring community Port McNeill, have multiple accommodation options available for you to use prior to your trip. Please see our list of recommended accommodations in the area. In addition to kayaking, a variety of other adventures are available during your stay in the cove including: grizzly bear tours, boat assisted whale watching, hikes, an art gallery, beach access and excellent dining options. Please see our list of things to do in Telegraph Cove.
The incredible Whale Interpretive Center, located beside our shop, is home to over 30 marine mammal skeletons. It mustn't be missed! Finally, you will frequently see bald eagles, mink, river otters, black bears or even whales before we leave the dock.
Experienced SKGABC Certified Guides
Our outstanding team of SKGABC certified guides is the backbone of our company, facilitating your experience with us from start to finish. On trips our guides fill the roles of group leader, paddling instructor, naturalist, risk-manager, weather forecaster, chef, wildlife tracker, and your new best friend. Our team is made up of an incredible group of people, all with unique stories and backgrounds and inescapable passions for the outdoors and the area we operate in. This passion brings our guides back to the Strait summer after summer. Our average lead guide has spent 3 years at NIK, and Brad has been with us for 21!
Our team of returning staff means your guide knows the area well. This allows them to craft your day around the local forecast, currents and wildlife patterns from a position of knowledge and experience. Whether the fog is rolling in, the wind is picking up, or the sun is shining on down, your guide knows how to make the most of the day. We fully trust our guides to manage your experience with a focus on safety, comfort and wonder.
We provide all of the camping and kayaking equipment on all of our tours. Come with the clothing and personal items noted in ‘What to Bring’ and we do the rest. Some of the equipment we provide on our trips includes:
All of our day tours use durable plastic double kayaks. These kayaks are as stable as it gets. They have plenty of room for storage, bungees on their decks for quick access to water, and have comfortable seats and backrests.
We will provide you with dry bags for any personal belongings you would like to bring with you. Dry bags are the best way to store your lunch if you want it to stay nice and dry! Dry bags are leak free 99% of the time, every time. Because of the small chance they might leak, we recommend storing electronics in a more rugged container within a dry bag.
Paddles, Spray Skirts, PFDs, and Safety Equipment
After we dress you up for your adventure you will be ready for the runway! We have PFDs, paddles and sprayskirts that will work for all shapes and sizes. Your safety and comfort are our highest priorities.
No two trips are the same! We pride ourselves on our fluid itineraries. The weather, tides, wildlife, and the interests of groups are different every trip. Because of this, we both trust and empower our guides to adapt the trip as they see fit so you can have the best experience possible!
What to bring
What to bring on a full day sea kayaking tour
This is a water sport and you will get a little wet while getting in and out of the kayak.
- Something to drink, water works great!
- 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.
- A bagged lunch and snacks for on the water.
- 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.
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!