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Wander through the ancient rainforests amidst the giant Sitka Spruce and Red Cedar - Photo: Guy Kimola

Haida Gwaii is the only place in northern BC where travellers can surf the North Pacific. While the waves are best between October and May, Masset's North Beach produces swell year round - Photo: Guy Kimola

Haida Gwaii's experienced tour operators will help you to explore the islands from the remote west coast to popular attractions such as Tow Hill, the Blow Hole and the Golden Spruce Trail - Photo: Guy Kimola

We've got a selection of camping locations just right for you - forest sites thick with carpets of moss, rustic beach campsites and comfortable campgrounds with showers and hook-ups - Photo: Flavien Mabit

Explore our popular rainforest and beach walks such as the Pesuta Shipwreck Trail, the Golden Spruce Trail and Spirit Lake Trail - Photo: Flavien Mabit

Visit ancient Haida village sites in the world-renowned Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site - Photo: Flavien Mabit

The Rennell Sound area offers exceptional wilderness camping and short trails for accessing remote west coast beaches - Photo: Alexander A MacDonald

The Pesuta Shipwreck Trail will lead you along East Beach to the scenic remains of the Pesuta, a log ship that ran aground in 1928 - Photo: Alexander A MacDonald

North Beach is known for its beachcombing and food gathering opportunities as well as surfing and other water sports. Plan for a day at the beach and visit nearby attractions such as Tow Hill and the Blow Hole - Photo: Guy Kimola

Agate Beach is adjacent to North Beach and is famous for... you got it....agates. Oceanfront campsites and a picnic shelter are located at this popular beach - Photo: Guy Kimola

Visit the award-winning Haida Heritage Centre and Museum at Second Beach in Skidegate - Photo: Guy Kimola

Experience the west coast at Bonanza Beach -Photo: Raven Ann Potschka

 

Visiting SGang Gwaay (Ninstints) in Gwaii Haanas

By Katie Allen

Photo: Katie Allen

When I found myself on the edge of the world overlooking the vast, open ocean with an ancient culture behind me, I felt an all-encompassing energy in the air that felt so welcoming and warm it is nearly impossible to describe it all in words. To have visited SGang Gwaay is a privilege and a blessing that I feel honoured to have experienced. The natural beauty of the landscape embedded in cultural artifacts is especially significant to me after studying the Haida culture and its connection to Earth with the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society. It is out in the wilderness of Haida Gwaii that I feel the greatest sense of culture and SGang Gwaay is no exception.

Photo: Brodie Guy http://www.brodieguy.com

Getting to SGang Gwaay was not an easy task. We were lucky to catch a ride in February on the Highlander with a watchman and fellow employee. The Watchmen are a group of individuals that travel south to Gwaii Haanas to stay in the longhouses at important village sites in order to look after the park, and make sure everything stays in order.

Photo: Flavien Mabit

If you’re lucky they’ll tell you stories of the land and old Haida villages. With a group of 10 students in February we were able to hear a lot about SGang Gwaay, and even before we heard any stories, you could just feel the energy of the land and people in the air.

Photo: Brodie Guy http://www.brodieguy.com

What is interesting about Haida language is that there is no word for either art or nature for they are both seen as one with Earth and the people. After a totem pole has been raised, they are left there to decompose and return back to the natural world. These totem poles captured in SGang Gwaay are representative of this natural process, where most of the poles are decaying and barely left standing after a couple hundred years.

Photo: Katie Allen

All poles face the ocean so if a group approaches on the water, they are able to see the symbols to understand who lives there and what they are like. It is an incredible place to see ocean, land, and culture all intertwined as one. The earth is so lush and green with overpowering, giant old growth forest surrounding you. You have to be there to feel and see it to truly understand its power!

Photo: Barb Rowsell

At most of the major village sites there are up to date longhouses – some even equipped with kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms! All have bunk beds, table and chairs, and a wood stove to make for a very comfortable night’s stay. It took about 4 hours to travel down from Queen Charlotte to SGang Gwaay and after a few hours of roaming around the weather warned us to get to a campsite immediately. Another 2 hours of boating took us up to Windy Bay on Lyell Island, right next to the Legacy Pole! It was such an honour to be there. The longhouse was so comfortable and warm and I even had a dry mattress to sleep on.

Photo: Katie Allen

The next morning the waves were as high as 3 meters and we were bracing ourselves for another week at Windy Bay when we decided to catch a quick break in the weather and head out. It was an extremely rough ride on this industrial boat, but that made it all the more fun! I may have been soaking wet in salt water but it was worth the rollercoaster ride.

Photo: Katie Allen

Gwaii Haanas is a magical place and I cannot wait to head back again later this month. If the opportunity ever arises to take a trip down there, GO! There is no place on Earth that feels so ancient and sacred and looks so incredibly beautiful.

 

Contact Us

Haida Gwaii Tourism

Haida Gwaii Destination Marketing Organization
website: www.gohaidagwaii.ca
email: tourism@mieds.ca | telephone: 250-559-8050

Queen Charlotte Visitor Info Centre

open year round
website: www.queencharlottevisitorcentre.com
email: info@qcinfo.ca | telephone: 250-559-8316

Masset Visitor Centre

open in the summers
website: www.massetbc.com
email: info@massetbc.com | telephone: 250-626-3982

Port Clements Visitor Centre

open in the summers
website: www.portclements.ca
email: pcmuseum@qcislands.ca | telephone: 250-557-4576

Sandspit Visitor Information Centre

open in the summers
website: www.sandspitinn.com/sandspit-community
email: sandspit_vic@hotmail.com | telephone: 250-637-5362

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