Haida Gwaii is so much more than a wish list destination. It’s a place that touches your heart and soul and leaves an impression that I suspect will last a lifetime. Thank you Ocean Sound Kayaking…Jill Relyea
This relaxed expedition is my most popular tour, as it navigates the greater part of Gwaii Haanas National Park. You will have time to discover old growth forests, view endless inter tidal wonders, explore new camp sites, and paddle places few experience. The shoreline is diverse from sea caves, to estuaries, to vast beaches, to intimate islands. Our camp sites are often past homesteads, ancient Haida villages, or old growth forests. They are chosen for there solitude and grand views.
A visit to the village of SGang Gwaay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the highlights of the kayak trip. One hundred and twenty years after being abandoned, a row of standing totem poles still remains as evidence of this once flourishing culture here. This island jewel boasts the largest number of original standing totem poles in the WORLD!
We paddle corridors that promote wildlife encounters. The nutrient rich waters of Gwaii Haanas support an abundance of wildlife including the always entertaining Humpback and Minke whales, and the occasional pod of Killer Whales. The many islands on route are home to a variety of sea bird colonies, and there are several well established Stellar Sea Lion and Seal hall outs to enjoy as well.
Reviewing the Tour Map allows guests the opportunity to get familiar with the highlights, wildlife, and geographical locations of the tour.
Words like fun, engaging, educational and relaxing come to mind when describing my Haida Gwaii kayak trips. This Gwaii Haanas tour is a self-supported sea kayak expedition, allowing you to explore new places every day.
Your tour starts with my friends from Moresby Explorers picking you up at your accommodations in Sandspit, the location of the islands’ main airport. They will be transporting you by zodiac to a remote camp, where your Gwaii Haanas kayaking tour will begin.
At this point we will establish a campsite near Murchison Passage – one of two Marine Ecological Reserve found within Gwaii Haanas National Park. The Reserve was put in place to protect the fragile marine ecosystem found here, and more importantly to protect the Northern Abalone- a species that is Endangered. In 1990, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) put a total ban in place on stocks that reached near crash during commercial fishing heyday of the 1970s and 1980s.
Once introduced to our mixed fleet of single and double kayaks, our goal is to travel safely in accordance with the weather, tides and general interests of the group.
In close proximity to camp is Hot Springs Island found in Juan Perez Sound. In the fall of 2012, an earthquake affected the natural thermals at Hot Springs Island, resulting in them loosing there source. Parks Canada has been monitoring the site closely and has found that the water levels are slowly returning. With fingers crossed and with some patience, this again will be a highlight to our Haida Gwaii sea kayak tours.
Day 2 – 9
After crossing Juan Perez Sound, the next few days will be spent traversing the eastern shoreline of Burnaby Island towards Skincuttle Inlet. Each day will explore new places, while our camps will be selected for there BIG vistas and endless beaches to enjoy. By paddling the outer shores of Burnaby Island removes us from the congested bottle neck of the visiting operators and independent travelers found in Burnaby Passage.
Throughout your journey, you will kayak corridors that provide ample feed for a migrating Humpback whale. Feeding on krill, and small fish, a Humpback will consume over 1.5 tons (1,361 kg) of food a day. While the female is slightly larger than the male (45- 50 feet), these whales are capable of breeching their 40 tons completely out of the water – a sight never to be forgotten…
Skincuttle inlet, rich in history with both pre and post European contact, is sheltered from the open waters of Hecate Strait by a chain of Islands known as the Copper and Bolkus Islands. These islands are Ecological Reserves creating habitat for the Cassin’s Auklet, Forked-tailed Storm-Petrel, Marbled Murrelet, and the Ancient Murrelet- a species at Risk.
Coinciding with the low tide, a day paddle will be made from our camp in Skincuttle Inlet to view Burnaby Narrows. Studies conducted by Parks Canada, has determined this area contains more than 290 aquatic species, and revealed that bat stars were counted at a density of 74 per square meter, (in contrast to a survey done on Vancouver Island that found just seven per square meter), making this some of the highest levels ofliving material (called Biomass) of any inter tidal zone in the world!
After exploring the inlet, kayaking south crossing Ikeda Cove, and Collison Bay, both known for there mineral extraction and canneries at the turn of the century, we encounter the Rankin Islands, another Ecological Reserve found on this Haida Gwaii kayak tour, which are home to the Rhinoceros and Cassin Auklets sea birds.
Continuing our southward journey, the open waters and currents in this area create ideal conditions for plankton, Krill and Herring, attracting a plethora of wildlife. Whales, seals, sea lions, and birds that are not often found in the northern waters of Gwaii Haanas congregate here.
Using the tides to our advantage provides efficient travel towards the sheltered waters of Houston Stewart Channel, and the homestead of Rose Harbor. From 1905 to 1942 this was a flourishing whaling station. Rose Harbor now has a population of 4 hardy west coast characters. This special place today offers rustic accommodations and excellent local cuisine for travelers, which we will experience later on our kayak trip.
Kayaking westward through the channel brings us to one of the highlights of this tour, the village of SGang Gwaay. This is the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is located Anthony Island. This island jewel boasts the largest number of original standing totem poles in the world!
Although we paddle out just a short distance, the vast Pacific coastline usually sends tingles through even the seasoned visitor, and the underlying Pacific Ocean sets the rhythm for the day. Weather permitting paddling around this west coast jewel allow guests the opportunity of viewing Stellar Sea Lions and seals that haul out on the many islets surrounding the island.
Leaving our west coast camp we will explore an established bird colony, where guests can enjoy the many Tufted puffins, and possibly a rare sighting of the well-dressed Horned Puffin which nest in this area.
Our Final night to your Gwaii Haanas kayak tour will find us staying with my friends Susan and Goetz who have called Rose Harbor their home for the past 30 years. Here we will meet the LOCALS, and have a homestead style coastal cuisine with Susan, and a well-deserved HOT SHOWER…
Our final day, we will enjoy a morning paddle after breakfast amongst the many islands and islet found in the channel. The afternoon unfortunately is spent preparing for your return to your accommodations in Sandspit.
From Hot Springs Island to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of SGang Gwaay, the endless opportunities to explore the heart of Gwaii Haanas await you!
*On our 8 day tours only, the above kayak tour will start on Burnaby Island in proximity of Burnaby Narrows.
*Also note depending on the tour date, this sea kayak expedition will be offered in a reverse direction to the above itinerary, and guests will experience the Natural pools at Hot Springs Island on their start/ finish day of the tour by zodiac transportation to/from their Gwaii Haanas sea kayaking tour.
Below is an outline boundary of the waters that kayakers could travel.
Please click on “[ ] view larger map” in the top right corner for details on highlights, wildlife, and geographical locations.
Below are the specific charts associated to this tour. Guests are not required to bring their own charts; as your guides will be referring to theirs with the daily objectives while on the trip. Guests can purchase charts from Map Town or from the CHS (Canadian Hydrographic Service)
|Chart # 3853||Cape St James/Cumshewa/Tasu Sound||1:150,000|
|This large scale chart covers the entire waters of Gwaii Haanas|
|Chart # 3825||Houston Stewart Channel/Cape St James||1:40,000|
|Chart # 3808||Juan Perez Sound||1:37,500|
|Chart # 3809||Carpenter Bay – Burnaby Island||1:37,500|
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