Cultural Wildlife Itinerary - Vancouver Island North

For thousands of years the First Nations people have shared this wild coastal region with eagles, grizzly bears, orca, and salmon. After a long period of cultural repression, ancient traditions are again thriving as the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation perseveres and celebrates their culture through art, dance, music, language, and a sustainable day-to-day relationship with the natural world.

1-2 Day Adventures

Itinerary

TRAVEL TO VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH

Day 1

GRIZZLY BEARS OF THE WILD DAY TOUR

Embark from Port McNeill on an intimate and immersive wildlife watching experience. Reconnect with nature and learn about First Nations culture in an all-in-one experience that combines respectful wildlife viewing with a sustainable tour of northern Vancouver Island and adjacent mainland coast.
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Day 2

SCENIC BOAT & WILDLIFE TOUR

Experience the wild beauty of British Columbia’s coastal rainforests through the eyes of your First Nations guide as they share their culture, history and traditions. From Port Hardy, get out on the water to view wildlife such as whales, porpoises, stellar sea lions and marine birds. Gain a better perspective of the Port Hardy area and marvel at the beautiful coastal mountains and vastness of the North Island.
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Additional Activities

  • It’s all about salmon at the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy, learn about the important role salmon play in the ecosystem.

    Dig your toes into the sand at Storey’s Beach, at low tide this wide, sandy beach is a prime location for picnics and beachcombing, or an evening beach fire (check seasonal restrictions), Tide Guides available at the Port Hardy Visitor Centre

  • Calvin Hunt combines traditional elements of southern Kwakitul art with his own artistic creativity to create the masterpieces that live within his Copper Maker Gallery in the Village of Fort Rupert just outside of Port Hardy
  • Stretch your legs with a stroll along the Port McNeill harbourfront walkway or Rotary Trail, or head inland for a forested hiking trail or recreation site
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3-5 Day Adventures

Itinerary

WILDLIFE & CULTURAL EXPEDITION DAY TOUR

Day 1

FIRST NATIONS ART & CULTURAL DAY TOUR

Combine cultural discoveries with world-class wildlife watching on an adventure into the heart of traditional First Nations territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw. Share the love of the local landscape and learn about the spiritual connection between the Kwakwaka’wakw people and the wildlife that call these waterways home. Tour departs from Telegraph Cove.
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Day 2

CULTURAL DANCING & CIRCLE ISLAND TOUR

See the next generation of Kwakwaka’wakw share their culture to educate the world about their ancient songs, dances, teachings and values. Witness traditional dances that connect their culture to the land, sky, and sea. The T’sasala Cultural Group holds performances in the ‘Namgis gukwdzi (big house). During the T’sasala Cultural Group performances is the only time that the Big House in Alert Bay is open to the public. Performances held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in July and August

Continue your exploration of Cormorant Island with a one-hour guided tour of Alert Bay. Your tour guide will show you culturally significant sites and share stories of related to these special places.

Ferry travel required.
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Day 3

GRIZZLY BEARS OF THE WILD DAY TOUR

Embark from Port McNeill on an intimate and immersive wildlife watching experience. Reconnect with nature and learn about First Nations culture in an all-in-one experience that combines respectful wildlife viewing with a sustainable tour of northern Vancouver Island and adjacent mainland coast.
[Read More]

Day 4

NAKWAKTO RAPIDS OR SCENIC BOAT & WILDLIFE TOUR

Choose your own adventure: book a Nakwakto Rapids tour or a scenic boat & wildlife tour. Head to the Nakwakto Rapids, the fastest navigable tidal rapids on Earth, reaching speeds on an average of 14 knots and even peaking at 17 knots! When the ebb tides occur, millions of gallons of water passes through narrow channels and inlets which causes water levels to surge. Or experience the wild beauty of British Columbia’s coastal rainforests through the eyes of your First Nations guide as they share their culture, history and traditions. From Port Hardy, get out on the water to view wildlife such as whales, porpoises, stellar sea lions and marine birds. Both tours will be lead by Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw First Nations guides.

Please note that the Nakwakto Rapids tours only run on certain dates each month due to the timing of the tides, see available dates and tour times on their site.
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Day 5

ELDER’S STORY

Port Hardy has three Nations in the region; the Quatsino Nation, Fort Rupert (Kwakiutl) Nation, and the Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw Nation. Each week there will be an Elder from one of the three Nations that will share their story of legends of their people and their family. Traditions are kept alive with the First Nations people by hearing stories and receiving guidance from their elders. These stories are usually tales of courage, adventure, relationships, hardships and self-discovery. The captivating stories typically emphasize man’s connections with animals and nature and often involve anthropomorphism of the main characters.
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Additional Activities

  • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
  • Self-guided tour of Memorial and other Totem Poles in Alert Bay, including the world’s tallest totem pole, brochure available at the Alert Bay Visitor Centre
  • Find the perfect Island-inspired gift item to remember your trip by at Alert Bay art galleries and gift shops
  • Hit the trails – Cluxewe Salt Marsh, Quatse Loop & Estuary Trail, Beaver Lake Interpretive Trail, Marble River, Schoolhouse Creek Trail
  • It’s all about salmon at the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy, learn about the important role salmon play in the ecosystem.

    Calvin Hunt combines traditional elements of southern Kwakitul art with his own artistic creativity to create the masterpieces that live within his Copper Maker Gallery in the Village of Fort Rupert just outside of Port Hardy

  • It doesn’t get fresher than catching your own dinner, head out on a guided half-day fishing charter
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