Guided Half Day Trip
May to September
May 17th - June 30th
July 1st - September 23rd
Join us for four 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 of Vancouver Island. This tour is designed to be comfortable and approachable for all. Your guide will ensure that you enjoy this introductory sea kayaking experience.
Sit atop shallow underwater habitats, home to weird and wonderful intertidal creatures. Venture to deeper water and 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! The longer you spend on the water, the better your chances of spotting wildlife become.
Spend four hours kayaking and enjoying the unparalleled scenery and wildlife of the area around Telegraph Cove. This tour is just long enough for you to 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, as well as interpret intertidal creatures and plants. If you are lucky, you might get surprise interpretations about orcas, seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, deer, mink, river otters, bald eagles and black bears within their natural environment.
We realize that it’s hard to not have high expectations when the chance to see orcas up close is possible. However, it’s important to keep in mind that we only provide the opportunity. Encountering these magnificent creatures while kayaking is a unique and unforgettable experience. With this in mind, the tour will keep you in areas frequented by these spectacular mammals for as long as possible. Our guides carry marine VHF radios and monitor the local chatter to ensure that we never miss an opportunity to view orcas. 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 both adults and children over 8 years old. It can be a fun and rewarding introduction to the diverse marine wildlife in the Johnstone Strait. No previous experience is required as we use very stable two-seated, enclosed sea kayaks. We also 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 8 a.m. and returns around noon, while the afternoon tour starts at 1 p.m. and returns around 5 p.m. This allows those who are interested in spending a day both kayaking and taking a trip on a Prince of Whales whale watching boat to do so. These boats depart only a few steps down the boardwalk.
As we run these tours with small group, it is important that you pre-book over the phone or online, in order to avoid disappointment.
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:
Our Wildlife Seasonality Chart is based on data collected from 3-day trips. We do not guarantee sightings of any kind. The more time you spend on the water, the better your chances of wildlife sighting become!
Over 200 Northern Resident Orcas call this area home in the summer. These oceanic mammals travel in family pods and forage in the Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits for their favourite food: the chinook salmon. They reside in the Straits for an average of two months, typically arriving around mid-July and staying until early September.
Larger, more nomadic Transient Orcas (Bigg’s) are seen sporadically in the waters as well. They travel and behave less predictably, but occasionally pass by in a typically quiet and stealthy fashion (unless a porpoise crosses their path…).
Steller Sea Lions
Steller sea lions, the largest sea lion, call this area home all year round. However, many more arrive in August and can be seen (and smelled), lounging on their favourite rocks in large groups, sometimes encompassing more than 40 members. Sea lions are curious creatures and groups are often joined by friendly pairs as you paddle in Blackfish Sound.
Year Round Wildlife
Harbor seals, bald eagles, pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, black bears, minks and salmon are spotted all 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 illuminating as some intertidal creatures’ physical structures have remained relatively unchanged for over half a billion years.
Historic Telegraph Cove, British Columbia
Located in Northern Vancouver Island, approximately 200 km northwest of Campbell River, BC, the community of Telegraph Cove has around 20 year-round inhabitants. It was formerly home to a cannery, a mill for the Canadian Air Force, and a telegraph post. It 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 two 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, 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: 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 must not be missed! Finally, you will frequently see bald eagles, minks, river otters, black bears, and 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 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. On average, our lead guides spend three years at NIK, and Brad has been with us for 21!
Our team of returning staff means that 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. If the fog rolls in, the wind picks up, or the sun shines down, your guide will know how to make the most of the day. We trust our guides fully to manage your experience with a focus on safety, comfort, and wonder.
We provide all camping and kayaking equipment for our tours. Come with the clothing and personal items noted in the ‘What to Bring’ section and we do the rest. Some of the equipment we provide for 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 bottles, and comfortable seats and backrests.
We will provide you with dry bags for any personal belongings you would like to bring. If you want your snacks to stay nice and dry, dry bags are the best way to store them. Dry bags are leak-free, 99% of the time, every time. Due to the small chance that dry bags can 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 spray skirts that will work for everyone. 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 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!
- Warren B
Highlight of my summer! Absoluely amazing 4-day kayak tour with Marc and Mia. Both guides were oustanding. They were very knowledgeable, supportive, and placed our safety first, followed closely by enjoyment. The boats were comfortable, stable and tracked well. The camps were in beautiful locations, the tents were spacious, the beds comfortable, and the food was outstanding. Much to my chagrin I gained weight. Did I mention whales? There's nothing like waking up in the morning in your tent to the sound of humpbacks btreathing just offshore. Thank you NIK! I'll be back. …
Fantastic - Day Trip Just finished a day tour a few days ago. First Telegraph cove is a great location to Kayak because of the scenery and likelihood of seeing whales. While seeing whales is hit and miss we were very lucky to catch multiple pods of Orca's. The key thing is our guide, Liv (sp?) knew there were some whales sighted and mentioned that us early in the trip. She was able to take advantage of that insight (info) and maneuver us to get great views (while still being safe). On safety, it seemed to be top of her mind also as we had to cut our trip a bit short due to heavy winds starting to role in... and that was the way it should be .. with novices like us …
- Mitsi S
Unforgettable adventure! We had an awesome adventure with NIK in September 2021. The guides were excellent! They were organized, knowledgeable and congenial. The equipment and camp set ups were all great and the food was amazing- nice hot meals that exceeded expectations in a camp style setting. We would highly recommend this tour to the adventurous hearty type of traveler! Seeing orcas up close was the highlight of our trip.
- Deborah N
North Island Kayaks We did a lovely kayak day trip with Shale. I am sure you would enjoy this day trip. We enjoyed our stay in telegraph cove and we will do this again s
- David C
Great afternoon. Great guide. Great company. My Husband & I did a half day tour Sept 15 with Shailee. The perfect guide that kept us safe through a windy return, however a lovely sunny day. Will do again for sure. Shailee enjoy your fall & winter. Linda &
Half day tour Fun experience! Our guide Shailee was perfect, telling us a lot of interesting facts about the surrounding nature. Even if the weather was a bit against us, we managed to see quite a lot of cool things anyway. Prepare for a nice workout, the next day my muscles was hurting a bit haha!
- Elaine C
The apex of summer We set out for the half-day (4hour) kayak trip at 1pm. The clouds vanished and we found ourselves in for a glorious afternoon. Our guide, Reed, was knowledgeable, competent, and friendly - he helped to make for a great afternoon. We saw a humpback whale in the distance, two pods of orcas quite close up, and then a variety of other creatures like old growth trees, sea urchins, and bald-headed eagles. Best afternoon! …
- Jenn W
Amazing Experience I did the half day kayak with Mia and Nadia. They were amazing. So friendly and knowledgeable. Their instructions were easy follow. Definitely worth the trip! Thanks ladies. The scenery was beautiful and we lucked out with a nice low tide. Lots to see.
2 hours of educational fun Todd our guide was well versed on safety, local flora and fauna. A fun 2 hours - especially for children!
- Terri T
Great paddle showcasing Beautiful BC! Thank you to Todd who led an informative and entertaining 2-hour kayak tour for my husband, myself and our 19yr old daughter out of Telegraph Cove. We encountered several curious Sea Lions and a bald eagles but alas no whales nearby (tho we did see one spout about 3km away). The spectacular beauty of the pristine coastline and serenity of the sea were the real superstars today. The light rain at the end really made us feel at home! Would like to return one day for a multi day expedition which may yield more possibilities to see more wildlife and marine life. Best of luck to you Todd!! …