A Gwaii Haanas Paddling Adventure
One of the highlights of the past couple of years, was an 8-day Gwaii Haanas kayaking adventure with Green Coast Kayaking. Green Coast Kayaking (formerly Gabriola Cycle and Kayak) has offered inspiriational paddling tours in Gwaii Haanas since 1989
Charting the course Leigh McAdam / Hike Bike Travel
Upon enquiring, I was reassured that kayaking experience was not necessary. I had a hard time believing that, however the lure of Gwaii Haanas was too much and I registered.
Our group of 9 consisted of people from across Canada all with varying degrees of kayaking experience. We were met by Moresby Explorers (transportation providers to Gwaii Haanas) at the Alliford Bay ferry terminal (near Sandspit, Moresby Island). The 4 hour zodiac ride in itself, was packed full of scenic inspiration preparing us for the kayaking trip ahead. Admittedly, the ride was chilly and we needed all the warm layers recommended.
Transportation to Gwaii Haanas Leigh McAdam / Hike Bike Travel
We arrived at Rose Harbour, an abandoned whaling station with time to paddle around Kunghit Island to our first campsite - thick carpets of moss beckoning the weary travellers.
Kunghit Island Campsite Haida Gwaii Tourism
Each person brings supplies for a breakfast, lunch and supper to share with the group. This is something that differentiates the Green Coast Kayaking tours from others, making them affordable to the budget-wise. Our meals were amazing and ingredients ranged from fresh vegetable salads to mouth watering candied salmon and variations of wraps and fillings to gourmet pasta and rice dishes – mmmm!
Our days were guided by the tides and currents and we began the paddle to SGaang Gwaay (aka Ninstints) at 8:30 the next morning. We were all looking forward to the journey into the ancient world of standing totem poles and moss-covered foundations of longhouses from another time. The knowledgeable guides from the Haida Watchmen program toured us around the village site providing stories and explanations which seemed to bring this ancient village to life before our eyes.
Ninstints Village Site Haida Gwaii Tourism
The 4 hours spent at SGaang Gwaay passed too quickly and by late afternoon we found ourselves making the crossing to our next campsite at the Gordon Islands.
Gordon Islands Haida Gwaii Tourism
The next day we explored the main island which overlooked SGaang Gwaay.
We paddled south, circumnavigating the Gordon Islands and were fascinated with the ‘boomers’ (surf pounding against rocks). No sooner had we rounded the southern end of the islands than we were greeted by two Humpback whales ‘sounding’ (breaking the surface). So close was the encounter that one of them swam under the kayaks, creating a noticeable swell - an amazing experience!
Exploring the Gordon Islands Bernice Tong
After a leisurely lunch on the beach, we began to paddle back to Rose Harbour and our campsite for the night. Our guide accompanied us to a ‘secret’ location in the nearby rainforest at which a moss-covered, abandoned ancient Haida canoe awaited us. Could the sights and sounds of this tour get any better? The day ended with a magnificent dinner hosted by Susan Wier, known far and wide for her meals for guests of the Rose Harbour Guesthouse.
Abandoned ancient Haida canoe Haida Gwaii Tourism
Wondering if this 8 day Gwaii Haanas wilderness experience might be for you? Envision yourself paddling through rich, healthy kelp forests, watching jelly fish floating peacefully beside your kayak, experiencing marine life such as whales and sea lions, and paddling through the magical Burnaby Narrows.
Things I learned on this most amazing adventure:
- Kayaking experience is not necessary with guides like ours to coach you along (and double you on the kayak)
- With the right stroke, one can paddle long distances comfortably (I even dreamed about that stroke)
- There is an art to getting in and out of the kayak (I really appreciated Dominic understanding my wordless plea that he was to grab my camera as I was going under after an incorrect exit - great reaction time Dominic!)
- Teamwork develops into a sense of family
Simple pleasures such as a rock throwing contest Leigh McAdam / Hike Bike Travel
I’m already planning for the next Gwaii Haanas or west coast trip with Green Coast Kayaking – I just can’t decide which one I should choose! Any sugggestions?
Taking a break and basking in the sun Haida Gwaii Tourism
* Note: Bryce Klee is the new owner/operator of Green Coast Kayaking. Find out more about Bryce in Green Coast Kayaking's Love Haida Gwaii profile