$2565 AUD per person twin share
Minimum age is 14yrs
- Day 1 - Telegraph Cove
- Day 2 - 3 - Blackfish Sound
- Day 4 - 5 - Robson Bight Orca Preserve
- Day 6 - Departure
- All meals while on tour
- Transportation to and from the launch site
- Kayaking instruction
- All kayaking and camping equipment
- Dry bags for your gear
- Neoprene booties
- Service of our certificated professional Guides
- Scrubba Wash Bag
- Transportation to and from Port McNeill
- Hotel before and after the tour
- Meals before or after the tour
- Gratuity for guides
- Items of a personal nature
The best place in the world to kayak and observe Killer Whales or Orcas is in Johnstone Strait as they feed on the salmon running through off the coast of northern Vancouver Island. Spend time in the heart of killer whale territory where these graceful giants glide through the waters. Our tours include a hydrophone so you can listen to their vocal calls whilst watching them breach and fluke. Camping in full height canvas tents, enjoy gourmet meals from local produce and sip wine at sundown. As you paddle through the stunning scenery of Vancouver Islands’ own inside passage, your chance to witness these whales in residence is heightened. Weather permitting, you will have the opportunity to explore different islands in what is known as the ‘orca loop’.
Discover Blackfish Sound, home to killer whales as well as a high concentration of humpback whales. Learn and understand the unique ecosystem of this region. The waters here are like glass, so clear that sea stars and anemones appear like they are touching distance from your kayak. The inlets and channels are sheltered allowing you to appreciate the raw wilderness. Sea lions will become a regular site as they lounge on nearby crags, acrobatic dolphins will impress you as eagles and sea birds soar above you. Absorb the splay of twinkling stars on velvet black skies as you listen to stories about indigenous cultures and their lands. Trek through cedar forests and observe First Nations pictographs. Crooked Compass proudly adheres to all Be Whale Wise regulations.
Day 1 - Telegraph Cove
This morning you will be picked up from the Haida Way Motor Inn and transferred to your launch site in Telegraph Cove. Here your guide will give you an orientation lesson as well as a safety briefing for your kayak. Departing from Telegraph Cove, you will paddle into the heavily forested but sheltered Johnstone Strait. This is the world’s only killer whale preserve and known as the heart of killer whale territory. Depending upon the weather, you will have the opportunity to kayak to a range of wilderness camps located on three different islands. All camps offer full height canvas tents which are pre-assembled and sleeping stretchers. Make the most of happy hour this evening as you sip local wines and snack on some hor d’oeuvres as your dinner is being prepared. As you sit around you crackling campfire, enjoy your freshly baked desert and absorb the bright stars and clear night skies as the ocean laps quietly nearby. (L,D)
Overnight Base Camp
Day 2 - 3 - Blackfish Sound
The smell of freshly brewed coffee will awaken you this morning as the sun begins to peak over the heavy rainforest. As breakfast is being prepared, why not go for a wander and explore the shoreline for tidepools or relax with a book. You may even see a pod of passing killer whales. It’s then time to hit the water again as you continue through Johnstone Strait, killer whale territory. Explore this area known as Blackfish Sound and its channels and islands. This is an area where humpback whales may also be spotted. Today kayaking is around 4 hours in duration which includes many floating rest breaks and of course a well-deserved lunch break. (B,L,D)
Overnight Base Camp
Day 4 - 5 - Robson Bight Orca Preserve
Over the next two days, you will paddle to First Nations pictograph and explore Robson Bight Orca Preserve. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled as Killer whales can appear at any time! These beautiful whales swim up and down and around the strait hunting salmon or playing all day. They can cover dozens of kilometres per day. As you paddle along, be sure to take the time to look skyward as you spot eagles. Along the shoreline, you may see seals or porpoises as well as other sea birds. Once we are view of the killer whales, we will drop our hydrophones into the water. Hearing their clicking and calls is an absolute thrill as their sounds and tones penetrate the water. In the evening, relax in camp around your camp fire as you listen to stories from your knowledgeable guide and learn of local legends and myths. Be sure to listen out for the puffs offshore of killer whales blowing to take a breath. (B,L,D)
Overnight Base Camp
Day 6 - Departure
Spend your last day kayaking back to Telegraph Cove. Stopping for lunch enroute, you will also have time to visit the Telegraph Cove Whale Museum. After handing back your kayak, you will be transferred back to Port McNeill in the late afternoon where your tour ends on arrival. (B,D)
Note: We will do our best to stick to this itinerary however, for reasons outside our control, such as wind, waves or adverse weather conditions, the itinerary may be slightly altered. There is a very high change you will see killer whales on this journey, however frequency and proximity of sightings cannot be guaranteed. Our guides are the experts to know the best locations to see and encounter these magnificent creatures.
The northern resident pods of killer whales currently number over 220 individually identified whales in 17 separate pods. They are generally found in Johnstone Strait when salmon, their primary prey, come from the ocean to spawn in the rivers of mainland British Columbia. The whales arrive after about the first week in July, and stay through late September. Our tours are scheduled only during the times when the whales have historically populated the area. Transient killer whales are found in the area beyond this narrow summer window, but are fewer in number and offer infrequent sightings. Humpback whales return from their breeding grounds in Hawaii early summer, and remain through the autumn. Though once hunted to extinction from the area, humpbacks have returned to the area as a tremendous success story, and are almost more common than killer whales!
There are no recorded attacks on humans in history from wild killer whales. To our knowledge a killer whale has never bumped a kayak or shown any aggression toward kayakers. All whales are acutely aware of their surroundings, and can use echolocation to track objects in their waters. From our many years in Johnstone Strait and hundreds of close encounters with killer whales, we feel very safe being in their presence. Most of the killer whales we encounter are strictly salmon-eaters.
While we have a 98% success rate for seeing killer whales, they are wild animals that roam at will and thus, we are unable to guarantee a sighting. To increase your opportunities for seeing the killer whales, or simply to enjoy even more whale watching, you might want to add an extra day to your vacation to go on a Stubb’s Island Whale Watching trip that is operated by motor skiff. Their motorised boat allows them to cover more ground in search of killer whales and humpbacks throughout the Johnstone Strait area.
The easiest way to get to Port McNeill by air, is to fly through Vancouver International Airport (airport code YVR) to Port Hardy, BC (airport code YZT). From Vancouver International’s South Terminal you can catch a flight on Pacific Coastal Airlines direct to Port Hardy. Once in Port Hardy, it’s a 35-40 minute taxi ride to Port McNeill. If arriving from outside of Canada, be sure to give yourself 1.5-2 hours between your arriving flight at Vancouver International and your departing flight from the South Terminal to Port Hardy, as you will have to clear customs and take a 15 minute shuttle from the International Terminal to the South Terminal (there are signs to guide you). Port McNeill is also accessible by car, via a beautiful drive following BC Route 19 from Nanaimo to Port McNeill. Vancouver Island can be reached from the Canadian or U.S. mainlands by utilizing one of multiple ferry crossings from the Vancouver metro or greater Seattle areas. The BC Ferries and Washington State DOT Ferry websites are very helpful resources if you are planning to drive to Northern Vancouver Island.
If you fly into Port Hardy, you will need to arrange a taxi for the 35-minute drive South to Port McNeill. You can expect to pay about $45-60 CAD for the one-way fare, however rates do vary. We recommend sharing the ride with other members of the tour if you meet one another on the plane (or are on the same flight when departing). It’s best to bring cash to pay the driver.
You can always extend your trip through our friends at Stubbs Island Whale Watching or Mackay Whale Watching tours. Both are experienced operators located on Northern Vancouver Island. Whale watching by boat will allow you to quickly move to areas where sightings are reported, increasing your changes of seeing whales.
For our British Columbia kayaking tours, we follow “Be Whale Wise” regulations for the protection of the whales. According to the regulations, viewers must stay 200 metres or more away from killer whales. We are very privileged to have the opportunity to observe these incredible creatures from close vantage points. The survival of the killer whale, depends on everyone’s cooperation with the “Be Whale Wise” and other responsible whale watching regulations. Occasionally, because killer whales are much fast than us while in a kayak, they approach us much closer than the above guidelines. That said, many of our closest encounters have been from land, as the whales often come within metres of the shoreline! Understanding the behaviour and range of the killer whales helps to better-set your expectations for your killer whale kayak tour. Feel free to explore www.BeWhaleWise.org to read more about these regulations.
We recommend that you bring (2) pairs of shoes on your BC trip. Packing light for your adventure in the Johnstone Straight is highly recommended and from our experience you really only need 2 good pairs of footwear for your tour. We will supply you with a pair of neoprene booties for the duration of your kayaking tour. In addition to those booties we recommend you bring:
One pair sturdy trail shoes, or running shoes, to use for hiking and around camp
One pair sandals with ankle straps to wear while kayaking, on the beaches, walking around camp, etc. (Chaco, Keens or Crocs are preferred but there are many other brands that are suitable)
If you fly into Port Hardy, you will need to arrange a taxi for the 35-minute drive South to Port McNeill. You can expect to pay about $45-60 CAD for the one-way fare, however rates do vary. We recommend sharing the ride with other members of the tour if you meet one another on the plane (or are on the same flight when departing). Please bring cash to pay the driver. The taxi companies change regularly, but we recommend Waivin Flags Taxi, 1-250-230-7655 and Town Taxi 1-250-949-7877 on the North Island.