Gwaii Haanas has been on my list for a long time. Its remote, beautiful, relatively untouched, and rich in Haida Culture. Our guides were friendly, competent, and went above and beyond on many occasions.Yuji Akiyama
This Haida Gwaii tour is designed for you to experience the details of the remote southern waters of Gwaii Haanas. Each day will present new discoveries like endless beaches, hidden inlets, old growth forests and the abundant wildlife that Gwaii Haanas is known for. There is no shortage of adventure or imagination in this true west coast environment unique to Gwaii Haanas kayak tours.
The area was home to the Kunghit Haida, a group isolated from their Northern Haida Counterparts. A visit to the village of SGang Gwaay, The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the highlights of the trip. One hundred and twenty years after being abandoned, a row of standing poles still remains as evidence of the once flourishing culture. This island jewel boasts the largest number of original standing totem poles in the world!
The nutrient rich waters of this environment attract an abundance of wildlife including the always entertaining Humpback and Minke whales, and the occasional pod of Killer Whales. Seabirds such as Tufted Puffins and Rhinoceros Auklets nest throughout this area. There are several well established Stellar Sea Lion and Seal haul outs as well. This rugged wind swept shoreline dotted with incredible beaches is a true west coast experience!
Reviewing the Tour Map allows guests the opportunity to get familiar with the highlights, wildlife, and geographical locations of the tour. The purpose of my Haida Gwaii kayak trips are to be fun, engaging, educational, and relaxing. This Gwaii Haanas tour is a self-supported sea kayak tour, perfect for satisfying your need to get away from it all. Day 1 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 entertain you with stories and show you coastal attractions while transporting you by zodiac to Rose Harbor, found in the remote southern end of Gwaii Haanas National Park, where your Haida Gwaii kayak tour will begin. From 1905 to 1942 this was a once flourishing whaling station. Today, Rose Harbor boosts a population of 4 hardy west coast characters that homestead on site. This special place offers rustic accommodations and excellent local cuisine for travelers. 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. Each day you will explore somewhere new. Leaving Rose Harbor, we will establish our first wilderness camp in one of the many bays and islands found on the east coast of Kunghit Island. Day 2 – 7 From camp, opportunities to view Humpback and Minke whales that often feed in these waters is possible. 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… These nutrient rich waters also create habitat for the well-established seal and Stellar Sea Lion hall outs found in this area as well. Weather permitting, paddling alongside the towering cliffs found in this quite environment is one of my favorite places in Gwaii Haanas. From this location, not only do you get the opportunity to view the many Tufted Puffins that nest and feed here, but a glance of Cape St. James- the most southern point of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) is a treat. Besides big vistas, and amazing sunsets, guests are allowed to fish the eastern waters of Gwaii Haanas. Yes, fishing from a kayak is often a highlight to a guests Haida Gwaii kayak tour as you have a chance of providing yourself with a freshly caught meal- something no restaurant can offer… Please note that fishing is not permitted west of Rose Harbor, due to an established Rock Fish Conservation Area. Moving camp, and paddling through Huston Stewart Channel towards Rose Inlet, you get your first sight of the Pacific Ocean. Not yet ready for Open Ocean we establish another remote camp along the shore of Rose Inlet. Rose Inlet allows us to explore the old growth forests that Haida Gwaii is known for. Walking through these towering forests kayakers see the Western Red Cedar tree (Thuja plicata) which is the provincial tree of British Columbia, and also known to coastal natives as the “TREE OF LIFE”. Guests can reflect on how the Haida had stripped bark and fallen these trees for cedar ornaments, clothing, houses, totem poles, and canoes. Kayakers are also exposed to ancient fish weirs; places that the Haida had once gathered migrating salmon in the fall months before returning to their winter village of SGang Gwaay. Now familiar with the local wildlife, history, and surroundings of Kunghit Island we head out to the Open Ocean. Paddling around Cape Fanny, the southern tip of Moresby Island, sends tingles through even the most seasoned visitor, and the Pacific Ocean sets the rhythm for the day. Our next camp will be within close proximity to Anthony Island, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of SGang Gwaay. The following day a short crossing brings us to the climax of our journey where we will spend the day in the presence of the Totems of the Pacific. Weather permitting paddling the west coast jewel can offer you another opportunity to view Stellar Sea lions and seals that haul out on the many islets surrounding the island. Paddling up the west coast to Cape Freeman from this camp can also be an option weather permitting. Exploring this less travelled corridor provides vast views up and down the west coast of Haida Gwaii. Whether its playing with a lone octopus or a nudibranch in a tide pool by camp, or sea kayaking along the shoreline at low tide, opportunities to enjoy the colorful intertidal life that kayaking Haida Gwaii is known for, is abundant throughout your journey. Day 7 From our west coast camp, kayaking to an established bird colony to enjoy the many Tufted Puffins, and possibly a rare sighting of the well-dressed Horned Puffins, is a highlight to the day. Other birds such as the rhinoceros’ auklet, marbled murrelet, pigeon guillemot, Cormorant (pelagic and double crested), and a variety of sea gulls can be found in these waters. Our Final night of our Gwaii Haanas kayak tour will find us staying at Rose Harbor with my friends Susan and Goetz that have homesteaded here for more than 30 years. Here we will meet the LOCALS, and have homestead style coastal cuisine with Susan, and a well-deserved HOT SHOWER… Day 8 The final day, we will paddle amongst the many islands and islets of Houston Stewart Channel for a morning paddle, and then prepare for your return to your accommodations in Sandspit. This is a true coastal experience for both beginners and experienced paddlers, and an adventure you will never forget!
*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.
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 # 3855||Houston Stewart Channel||1:20,000|
|Chart # 3825||Houston Stewart Channel/Cape St James||1:40,000|
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