Travelling the North Island: 5 adventures from the locals’ handbook

January 2021

Most know of the north island towns like Port Hardy, Port McNeill, and Telegraph Cove. Each of these spots has its own attractions but there is so much more to northern Vancouver Island and its wilderness…

1. San Josef Bay

“San Josef Bay is a perfect place for those searching for real wilderness”

Getting to the north end of Vancouver Island is all about reaching those truly rugged and less travelled to spots. Before you reach Port Hardy, take the turn off for Cape Scott Provincial Park and travel across the Island via logging road for 1.5 hours. Be sure to take care on these roads as active logging continues in these areas. Once you reach the end of the road and Cape Scott trail head, take the trail to San Josef Bay. The 45 minute trail is for all abilities and wanders through immense old growth forest. Eventually the trail opens up to a long sandy beach which faces the open Pacific Ocean. Walk in the shallows of the beach and towards the ancient sea stacks to explore the invertebrates living along the rocky shores. If you have the time and crave for more adventure, continue your trip on the northwest coast by completing the Cape Scott Trail!

2. Stories Beach and Tex Lyon Trail

For those who are looking for a sandy beach, but do not have the time or a car fit for logging roads, Stories Beach near Fort Rupert and the Port Hardy Airport makes for a great day trip! Stories beach is a long stretching flat beach great for long walks and dogs. At the north end of the beach you can find the trailhead to the Tex Lyon hike which takes you along a rugged coastal forest trail.

3. Quatse Salmon Hatchery

When exploring the town of Port Hardy, make sure you visit the Quatse Salmon Hatchery. Run by the North Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association, this facility is open to visitors to learn about the local salmon species of the north Island. Explore their interpretive gallery and exhibits in their brand new facility. 

4. Sointula and Alert Bay

“Just a quick ferry ride away are the townships of Sointula, on Malcolm Island, and Alert Bay, on Cormorant Island”

Each town has its own quirks and charm. Sointula boasts excellent coffee shops and bakeries as well as a fabulous camping area called Bere Point overlooking Queen Charlotte Strait. Alert Bay features its own special restaurants including the Pass’n Thyme. Most famously, the U’mista Cultural Centre is a must see. Here you can learn about the heritage and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw and ceremonial practice of Potlatch. 

Image from archives of U’mista Cultural Centre

5. Little Huson Caves

Before reaching Telegraph Cove take the turn off for Zeballos and head down a logging road for 30 minutes to an incredible network of caves called Little Huson Caves. Five minutes along a beautiful forest trail you end up walking across a limestone arch. Taking the steps down, you end up underneath the massive arch and next to Huson River. With many caves to explore here, this is a great picnic spot!

Written by Sharon Kay

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