Highlights of a Kayaking Trip In Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

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I’ve wanted to do a kayaking trip in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve for the better part of 20 years. I finally got my chance this summer.

The one week trip was a stand-out from start to finish. For starters, except for the boat ride down and one hour of rain on the last day, the weather was sunny and hot. Considering this is where you find temperate rainforest, I felt very lucky. The wind was almost always light, so the ocean was calm for this part of the world. Granted there were swells on a couple of the days, but they were entirely manageable. Food was amazing and the company was great. Campsites were beautiful and the pace was such that on most days there was time for an afternoon siesta. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

Gwaii National Park is located at the southern end of Haida Gwaii – formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands. If you look at a map, you’ll find the islands off the coast of northern British Columbia near the southern edge of Alaska. They are a difficult place to visit so I think you need to go for a week. First you must fly to Sandspit, a small town serviced by Air Canada or take a seven hour ferry ride from Prince Rupert to Skidegate. Then you must get to the boat launch, usually via a shuttle with Moresby Explorers. That’s via a well-traveled dirt logging road. Then there’s a three to five hour boat ride down to Rose Harbour, depending on the logistics of the day for Moresby Explorers. The boat ride is exposed, cold and sometimes wet. It requires that you wear every piece of clothing you’ve brought. I wore seven layers.

But it’s all worth it as you’ll see in the photos below. Our trip started in Rose Harbour and ended on a beach just north of Burnaby Narrows.

"Our boat ride out to Rose Harbour - the start of our one week kayaking tour starts here"

Our boat ride out to Rose Harbour starts here, accessed via a 45 minute van ride on a logging road from the town of Sandspit

"A minor amount of paddling on the first day"

A minor amount of easy paddling on the first day

"Woke up to this scene on our first morning out"

Woke up to this scene on our first morning out

"Landing on SGang Gwaay - a UNESCO World Heritage Site"

Landing on SGang Gwaay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site

"Memorial poles on Sgang Gwaay"

Learning about the Memorial poles from Natasha, our delightful Watchman guide

"Giant jellyfish are plentiful on the west coast beaches"

Giant jellyfish are plentiful on the west coast beaches

"A classic West Coast sunset"

A classic West Coast sunset

"Kayaking around Gordon Island"

Kayaking around Gordon Island

"A Haida canoe that was never finished, perhaps because smallpox decimated the population"

A Haida canoe that was never finished, perhaps because smallpox decimated the population

"Great rock outcrop at one of our stops"

Great rock outcrop at one of our stops

"Simple pleasures - hit the rock off the piece of driftwood while sitting (or standing or left arm only...)"

Simple pleasures – hit the rock off the piece of driftwood while sitting (or standing or left arm only..)

"The only sunrise I got out of bed to see - and what a sunrise it was!"

The only sunrise I got out of bed to see – and what a sunrise it was!

"The tidal zone is wonderful - especially through Burnaby Narrows"

The tidal zone is wonderful – especially through Burnaby Narrows

"One of the massive trees in the rainforest"

One of the massive trees in the rainforest

"A post lunch siesta"

A post lunch siesta

"Dining and whale watching - what a lucky combo"

Dining and humpback whale watching – what a lucky combo

"Our tent with a view down towards Burnaby Narrows on the last night out"

Our tent with a view down towards Burnaby Narrows on the last night out

There will be many more detailed posts on my kayaking experience in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. But with my time at a premium for the next month, they will have to wait. Hopefully you’ll still get a sense of the wonderful scenery that’s in store for you should you decide to visit. You don’t have to kayak either. There are “motherships” where you sleep on board and explore by day and there are single day and multi-day trips to visit the area arranged via Moresby Explorers as well.

Our trip was with Green Coast Kayaking, a great outfit though you do have to provide and cook a breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Have you ever thought of kayaking in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve?

Leigh McAdam

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