Admittedly, North Vancouver Island is one of British Columbia’s best kept secrets — a short day’s drive, or an even shorter one-hour flight from the hustle and bustle of Vancouver or Victoria, it is unspoiled, untamed, rugged, raw and wild. Fishing villages and small towns intermittently dot its coastline, each one becoming smaller and more remote the further north your travel, until eventually, there are no signs of civilization at all. It’s where the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation once traded with neighbouring peoples, and it’s where you’ll find our Orca Camp, on a secluded crescent beach next to the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. Many of the visitors to Orca Camp come just to kayak with whales, but others choose to extend their time on the North Island before or after Orca Camp to fully explore all it has to offer. Wondering what else there is to do on the North Vancouver Island? Here are our favourites:
Whale Watch Cruise
We include a guided whale-watching cruise aboard the Naiad Explorer before bringing our guests out to Orca Camp. Why? Because it allows us an opportunity to explore deep in the heart of Orca and Humpback Whale territory, much further than paddling a kayak will allow. Bill MacKay, the owner and captain of the Naiad Explorer pioneered whale watching in the Johnstone Strait — the passion he has for these marine mammals is without limits and his stories are legendary around these parts. He’s so entertaining, in fact, some of our guests book a separate trip on their own, just to experience it again!
U’mista Cultural Centre
The U’mista Cultural Centre in nearby Alert Bay houses one of Canada’s most extensive collections of First Nations potlach regalia in its longhouse and museum. Explore the museum’s extensive mask exhibits to learn the history of the Kwakawaka’wakw First Nation, or take in a traditional dance presentation by local First Nation children and youth, or shop for fine carvings, textiles or unique pieces of jewelry as a reminder of your time here.
Telegraph Cove Whale Interpretive Centre
One of the last of its kind in the area, Telegraph Cove is a quaint fishing village not far from Port McNeill. Colourful outbuildings hover above the quiet cove, linked together by a wooden boardwalk, and it’s where you’ll find The Whale Interpretive Centre. Learn about invertebrates through interactive exhibits. Discovery why marine noise may be impacting the health of marine mammals, or take your picture beneath the suspended skeleton of a Fin whale, the second largest species on the planet. Admission is by donation and all proceeds go to support the ongoing conservation efforts of the Whale Centre.
Hike Cape Scott Provincial Park
Lonely Planet says,
“If you really want to experience the raw, ravishing beauty of BC – especially its unkempt shorelines, breeze-licked rainforests and stunning sandy bays animated with tumbling waves and beady-eyed seabirds – this should be your number-one destination.”
We couldn’t agree more! Stay unplugged just a little bit longer and explore the 100s of kilometers of trails that wind through Cape Scott Provincial Park. Take an easy, 30-minute stroll along the San Josef Bay Trail to discover stunning views and the remains of a pioneer settlement first established over 100 years ago, or hike the 18-km Cape Scott Trail to explore the rainforest, marshlands and deserted beaches, each with a view more magnificent than the last.
Eye to Eye with Grizzlies
Extend your trip to explore the nearby Knight Inlet, where Grizzly and Black bears feed on sedge grass and salmon throughout the summer months. A guided river cruise along the tranquil estuaries of the Knight Inlet, binoculars and cameras at the ready lets you seize the moment you spot these kings of the forest foraging for their next meal, capturing photos of the bears in action. A not-to-be-missed, real Canadian experience.
Plan Your Extended Holiday Now
If you’d like to extend your time on North Vancouver Island, just let us know when you’re booking your Orca Camp reservation — our travel councilors will be happy to assist you in making plans for your extended stay. To make your reservations, simply book online, or email us for availability.
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