Fjords, Islands and Passages

Explore intricate waterways in the land of the Spirit Bear

Credit Canadian Tourism Commission

Wild at Heart

Nature must have had boaters in mind when she designed the labyrinth of islands and fjords of BC’s Discovery Islands, Broughton Archipelago, Great Bear Rainforest and Northern Passages. North of the Salish Sea, the human footprint continues to fade. Often, it’s just you, ancient rainforests, hump back whales, beckoning waterways and breath-taking landscapes. Mind you, a port or wilderness resort is never far away.

Wild is where time stands still

Here in the rhythmic tides, forest-clad shores and towering mountains, the myths and legends of the First Nations speak. Some of the best salmon fishing is here — just ask the orcas, humpbacks, minke whales and grizzly bears — or listen to the elders of a local First Nation, people who have lived here since time immemorial and who consider salmon a sacred gift. Sacred too is the elusive cream-coloured Kermode or “Spirit Bear” — rarer than the panda and found only in the Great Bear Rainforest.

The many marine parks and protected areas of this region conserve its ancient state and support vigorous populations of land and sea mammals. Many of the lodges, First Nations communities and charter tours offer shore excursions where you can hike or kayak to enchanted places and view creatures in their natural setting. While here, take the opportunity to learn about authentic Aboriginal culture and way of life at U’mista Cultural Centre, Haida House at Tllaal, Museum of Northern BC, Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Linagaay, and Spirit Bear Lodge at Klemtu at the base of the Kitimat Channel.

Not for the faint at heart

The tides and confined passages of this region offer navigational challenges not found in the waters to the south. It takes a few to several days to sail or cruise here from Vancouver or Victoria. You will want to be well outfitted when you begin exploring these archipelagos and fjords. Fortunately, there are several communities in and around the region where you can stock up and seek advice from knowledgeable sailors. The best jumping off places are Campbell River, Port Hardy and Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, and Powell River and Prince Rupert on the mainland.

Perhaps the best way to explore this region is via an Adventure Tour Charter. A charter will introduce you to the ecology, inhabitants and the navigational challenges of very remote places.

  • Discovery Islands

    Discovery Islands

    At the northern end of the Salish Sea, the seascape between British Columbia’s Mainland and Vancouver Island narrows dramatically, filled by a dense cluster of ten Discovery Islands.

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  • Broughton Archipelago and Johnstone Strait

    Broughton Archipelago and Johnstone Strait

    Just when you think it can't get any wilder, it does. Cruising north from Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands, you pass through one of several narrow channels, and out into a remoter world.

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  • Great Bear Rainforest

    Great Bear Rainforest

    From Cape Caution to Hartley Bay stretches one of the planet’s last great wild places: the Great Bear Rainforest.

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  • Northern Passages

    Northern Passages

    The Northern Passages region is north of the Great Bear Rainforest region, extending from Kitimat Arm to the Alaska border. Many people consider this region part of the Great Bear Rainforest.

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Main image at top of page: Credit Canadian Tourism Commission