Six Day Broughton Archipelago Sea Kayaking Expedition
Mid June to September
June 13th - June 27th
July 4th - September 12th
Spend 6 whole days exploring Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait and probe deep into the islands of the Broughton Archipelago by sea kayak, on a spectacular one way nomadic tour combining the spectacular wildlife and the ancient history of those that have lived here for thousands of years. We go in search of wild Killer Whales or Orcas and Humpback Whales in their natural environment, before leaving the deep water behind to explore ancient village sites with white shell beaches and discover sheltered coves where we will camp for the night, led by our experienced, qualified guides using top quality equipment. Opportunities to also see sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, bald eagles, black bears, numerous sea birds and the spectacular rugged scenery around Robson Bight.
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.
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. 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.
We will stop to stretch our legs and enjoy a picnic lunch on a remote beach before continuing on towards the boundaries of the Robson Bight ecological reserve or crossing Johnstone Strait before the frequent afternoon winds arrive. Our first camp will be one of the six wilderness base camps we set up each spring. These sites are specifically chosen to give us the best views and wildlife opportunities and ensure we have a spectacular spot for your first night out. Being 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
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 up to six 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.
Recently 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. 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.
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
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.
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
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.
Over 200 Northern Resident Killer Whales call this area home for the summer. These fish-eating mammals forage Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait for their favorite food the Chinook Salmon, the largest of the salmon species.
An increasing number of Humpback Whales also inhabit these waters, feeding on the abundant krill and herring Queen Charlotte Strait & Johnstone Strait provides. These giants arrive in the Straits in late May 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 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.
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!
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.