A Vancouver Island North Guide to Gifting Experiences

When you give a gift to someone, you communicate your connection to that person. A gift becomes a reflection of the relationship between people, allowing us to show our appreciation towards them. Gift giving over the holidays isn’t an obligation, the real meaning of gift giving is to give someone something that comes from your heart. That’s why there’s been such a rise in gifting experiences over the traditional exchange of objects.

In Vancouver Island North, there are countless experiences to gift this year- whether you’re looking for something for your bird-watching dad or adventure-seeking mom. By gifting a Vancouver Island North experience, you support the local economy while giving someone an unforgettable opportunity to try something different. Gifting a found object is easy, gifting a memory is priceless. Here is a guide to some of the best experience-based gifts to give this holiday season in Vancouver Island North.


Cultural Experiences to Gift in Vancouver Island North

Explorers seeking cultural experiences and connection with the ancient, recent, and living histories of Vancouver Island North will love these experiences that bring you that much closer to the rich past of this place. Here are a few ways to give a cultural experience this holiday season. For all cultural experiences, discover our Get Lost in Culture guide.


Self-Guided Art Tour: Take your loved one on a self-guided art tour. The Vancouver Island North Art Tour Guide features 15+ unique art studios and galleries from all corners of Vancouver Island North. Make your own itinerary, and surprise the art-lover in your life.


Tickets to a Show: The Gatehouse Theatre is a performance space located in Port McNeil that features both local and visiting acts including music, dance, and movies. Give the gift of tickets to a program for a fun evening out in Port McNeil.


An Art Lesson: With several art galleries and studios located throughout Vancouver Island North, many artists offer individual and group-based lessons for beginners which could be a great activity to give. Seaside Studio & Gallery, located in Quatsino, offers one-on-one lessons or group instruction.


A Restful Weekend Away: With several tranquil escapes a short boat ride away, there are some truly magical retreats located in the surrounding North Vancouver Island area.

  • Nimmo Bay Resort: A luxury resort with an onsite spa and outdoor hot-tubs located in the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • The Paddlers Inn: Located in the Broughton Archipelago, Paddlers Inn is perfect for kayakers seeking an escape into nature.
  • God’s Pocket Resort: An off-grid lodge that offers worldclass scuba diving adventures perfect for cold water enthusiasts.
  • Port Hardy RV Resort & Log Cabins: Located on the outskirts of a 138-acre estuary and wildlife sanctuary, rest comes easy here. The cabins are conveniently located a short walk to Port Hardy.


A Cultural Tour at U’mista: U’mista Cultural Centre is a remarkable facility that honors the rich traditions and culture of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw. Take a friend on a self-guided tour, or purchase a ticket to one of their traditional dance performances.


Land Experiences to Gift in Vancouver Island North

With tranquil beaches and remarkable hikes through towering old growth rainforests, getting lost in the beauty of nature is easy in Vancouver Island North. Here are a few ways to give a land-based experience this holiday season that is perfect for adventure-seekers. For all land-based experiences, discover our Get Lost on Land guide.


Hiking the Trails: Vancouver Island North offers spectacular choices for all levels of hiking abilities- from single-day excursions to multi-day expeditions. Self-guided hikes are available by following around the free North Island Trail Guide App where you can choose your own adventure and plan a unique itinerary as a gift. Or if you’d prefer to explore with a professional guide, check out some of these tours available throughout Vancouver Island North.

  • MB Guiding: A Victoria-based company that offers a coastal backpacking trip along the North Coast Trail, suitable for advanced backpackers.
  • Cove Adventure Tours: Offers single-day tours of the incredible San Josef Bay, or a choose-your-own-adventure style of tour package, perfect for gifting a unique experience.


Bike Trip on Sointula: Sointula (Malcolm Island) offers free “green bikes” that you can borrow at the Sointula Resource Centre. Plan a self-guided adventure as a gift, taking the ferry to Sointula and exploring this beautiful island by two wheels.


Caving Adventure: A seldom known fact is that Vancouver Island North boasts the highest concentration of caves in Canada. For adventure-seekers looking to give a unique experience, why not try caving? There are several ways to experience this remarkable activity.

  • Self-Guided Tour: Plan a day adventure and visit Little Huson Cave Park on a self-guided tour. The caves are open year-round and are accessible to beginners.
  • Caves, Lakes & Beaches Tour: Vancouver Island Photo Tours offers a walking scenic tour that includes a natural cave, lakes, and several beautiful beaches throughout North Vancouver Island.


Book a Weekend Ski Trip: Mount Cain Ski Area is located in Vancouver Island North, about 75km south of Port McNeil. The ski resort is gravel-road access only, and its remoteness makes for some truly incredible winter powder. On the hill there are limited accommodation offerings so book in advance or plan to do a day-trip from a nearby destination.


Water Experiences to Gift in Vancouver Island North

The wild shores of the Pacific Ocean beckon outdoor-loving travelers from coast-to-coast. Put on your wetsuit, and dive into the sea. Here are a few ways to give an experience that brings you closer to the water this holiday season. For all water experiences, discover our Get Lost on Water guide.


Book a Kayaking Tour: The best way to see the truly untouched wilderness that surrounds Vancouver Island North is to get out on the water, and a kayaking tour is the best way to get up close and personal to it all. From day trips to multi-day excursions, there are so many different types of ways to experience Vancouver Island North by kayak. Here are a few companies to consider depending on where you’d like to kayak.


Get Underwater on a Diving Trip: No method of travel brings you closer to the underwater world than diving to its depths. Known globally as one of the finest cold-water diving destinations in the world, experiencing the brightly coloured biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sun Fun Divers in Port McNeil and UB Diving LTD. in Port Hardy offer tours for experienced divers.


Book a Fishing Experience: Salmon, halibut, snapper, cod- you name it, these waters have it. Our trained guides will bring you exploring the ocean in search of the daily catch, or down the river to cast lines for trout. A fishing experience is a beautiful way to bond with someone in nature and share the gift of fresh fish over a warm fire afterwards. There are several fishing charters and tours that you can book including providers such as Codfather Charters, West Wave Fishing, Tides and Tales Sport Fishing Adventures, Leisure Suite Charters, and Hook’n Them Up Fishing Charters. A full list of fishing charters and lodges can be found here.


Wildlife Experiences to Gift in Vancouver Island North

Grizzly bears feeding and socializing in the Glendale river up Knight Inlet are a poular tourist draw during the summer months. Knight Inlet.

It’s not a trip to Vancouver Island North without seeing a bit of wildlife. Meeting the island’s most cherished residents is easy on one of the area’s wildlife tours- that brings you up close and personal to your favorite animals with safe and professional guidance. Here are a few ways to give a wildlife experience this holiday season. For all wildlife experiences, discover our Get Lost with Wildlife guide.


Try a Whale Watching Tour: The marine animals that inhabit Vancouver Island North’s waters are truly remarkable to witness. The local waters are full of wildlife year-round, and although certain species have seasons where they are more likely to be spotted- there’s always something to see in the water. The small community of operators here are dedicated to ensuring guests have a truly magical experience, while protecting the animals and their home. Here are a few companies to consider purchasing a whale watching tour as an experience gift.


Watch Bears in the Wild: Both grizzly bears and black bears can be seen wandering the wilderness of Vancouver Island North, and viewing these magnificent creatures from a safe-distance with a professional guide is truly jaw-dropping. A guided bear watching tour is the perfect gift for someone who may have never seen a bear up-close-and-personal before, where a naturalist will guide you on how these bears live amongst us in the wild. To book a tour with one of these guides, check out this list of tour providers in the area.


Try a Self-Guided Bird Watching Tour: With bald eagles soaring above you, great blue herons resting on logs, and sandpipers combing the beach at low tide- the bird watching in the area is truly world class. Come up with a fun itinerary to give the bird-lover in your life, pack a pair of binoculars and a picnic basket- and you’re set with the perfect experience gift. Some of our favorite locations to bird watch include Alert Bay’s Ecological Park, and the Quatse River Estuary in Port Hardy. If you’re looking for a guided experience, try A.Bucci Photography Tours, where professional-guide Anthony will guide you on capturing different birds through your camera lenses.

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