Frequently Asked Questions
We would like to share some of the questions most often asked when planning a visit to Haida Gwaii. More details can be found in our Trip Planning directory.
I will be driving from Victoria, what is the best way to go to Haida Gwaii, and how long would it take?
If you are driving from the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island, there are 2 options:
-To take a ferry from Port Hardy (driving time from Victoria to Port Hardy is about 6 hours), in the North of Vancouver Island, to Prince Rupert (15 hours on the ferry) and from there take another ferry to Haida Gwaii (another 8 hours). Note that both ferries are not runnning every day and you might have to spend a night or 2 in Prince Rupert before there is a ferry going to Haida Gwaii.
-To drive from Vancouver to Prince Rupert (1500kms, so about 2 days of driving, or 17 hours), where you will then take the ferry to Haida Gwaii (8 hours).
Both options would take a minimum of 3 days of scenic travel.
How many days would you recommend for visiting Haida Gwaii?
Because Haida Gwaii is so remote, spending a minimum of a week there is advised. If you have more time, consider staying for 2 or more weeks, to truly enjoy our "island time" and the hospitality of locals.
I will be driving to Prince Rupert, is it better for me to leave my vehicle there or take it with me to Haida Gwaii?
It depends on how long you are planning to stay on the islands. If just for a week or less, it might be a good idea to rent a vehicle on islands. If you have more time, it might be worth it to take your vehicle on board the ferry. Ferry fees for a standar-sized vehicle are about $165 each way between Prince Rupert and Skidegate (Haida Gwaii). To know more about ferry fees, visit the BC Ferries Website.
Our accommodation directory offers you a great selection of places to stay ranging from hostels, beach cabins, B&Bs and guesthouses to inns and lodges. Should you wish to rent a vehicle, we have provided contact information for you on our 'Getting Here and Around' page. There is no public transportation on island, however many of the communities will have a taxi service.
How can I visit the Islands without a vehicle?
Bicycling around Haida Gwaii is becoming increasingly popular although our roads are narrow and do not have a good shoulder system for cyclists. Bikes can be rented at Moresby Explorers in Sandspit although it is always best to bring your own long distance cycling equipment. Other options for travelling with a vehicle include posting to Haida Gwaii Trader's 'Ride & Share' site or one of the Haida Gwaii Facebook pages. Booking a land or marine tour is also an option to sightseeing without a vehicle. The bottom third of the islands is a National Park Reserve, only accessible by boat or air. For Gwaii Haanas information, visit their website.
Are there public transit buses on island?
Unfortunately, there is no public transportation on island. Most communities will have a taxi service. Eagle Transit operates shuttle service to the 2 airports on islands, and between communities. Visit their website for more information on the connection options.
Are all roads on Haida Gwaii passable for a camper? A small vehicle? Are there unpaved roads?
There are only about 140kms of paved highways on the islands and many areas to camp and hike in between the communities it serves. There is an extensive network of unpaved roads too, some suitable for a campervan on short distances, some not advisable. You will want to enquire locally for information on the state of the roads and logging activity.
Approximately what is the cost for a standard-sized vehicle + 2 people in the peak season on BC Ferries?
The BC Ferries website will give you an idea of crossing fees. In 2015 that estimate is about $165 for a standard-sized vehicle each way and $46 per person each way between Prince Rupert and Skidegate (Haida Gwaii).
Is there a camping area where we can stay on Haida Gwaii?
There are many camping areas to choose from, some serviced and some more remote with minimal to no service. Camping is a great way to explore the islands, and is sometimes free or with a minimal fee for service. For RV parks and Private Campgrounds, visit our campsite directory. There is also an excellent brochure and map, "Hikes and recreation sites of Haida Gwaii" that you can download which will provide you with campsite options on provincial land or forestry sites.
Is it necessary/better to book tours in advance or is it easy to book them when we arrive (e.g. excursions to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Heritage Site, Naikoon Provincial Park, Spirit Lake Trail) ?
All tours, especially to Gwaii Haanas, should definitely be booked in advance. The Haida Heritage Centre & Museum does not take bookings and has regular hours of operation. Naikoon Provincial Park does not take bookings either (campgrounds are on first come first served basis). Hikes in Naikoon Provincial park and other areas throughout the Islands are done at your leisure with no reservations required.
What are some of the main attractions that we might want to see during our visit?
Following are some of the popular attractions that you may wish to include in your itinerary:
• Queen Charlotte’s Seawalk and Spirit Square (weekly free performances during the summer months)
• The Haida Heritage Centre & Museum in Skidegate: the Heritage Centre will also provide tours of the carving shed, Haida canoes, totem poles and weaving demonstrations - these can
all be included in the Haida Gwaii Museum entrance fee of $15
• A traditional Haida Canoe Tour in Skidegate Inlet (these tours are arranged for groups through the Heritage Centre and have a minimum number - however, they usually have a list that
names can be added to
• The Pesuta Shipwreck Hike in Tlell
• The Golden Spruce Trail in Port Clements
• The Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary & Interpretive Centre in Masset
There are a number of galleries and artisan shops on Haida Gwaii as well as an artist and gallery directory on our website. The directory features individual profiles, photos of work and contact information.
I would like to go to Gwaii Haanas, how can one get there?
There is no road access to Gwaii Haanas. It is only accessible by floatplane or boat. For a list of licensed tour operators, including floatplane service, visit the Gwaii Haanas Webpage.
Should I pass an orientation and pay fees?
If you are on a self-guided tour, you have to pass an orientation and pay entrance fees to be able to enter Gwaii Haanas (GH). You should contact the Gwaii Haanas headquarters, at 250-559-8818 to organize your trip and a time to have the orientation. During the summer, these orientations are given every day, usually mornings, at the Kaay Centre in Skidegate. It is sometimes possible to organize an orientation at different times or in other locations, call Gwaii Haanas HQ.
However, if you are going as part of a tour organized by one the licensed tour operators, you do not need to pass a formal orientation session by Gwaii Haanas staff, and usually your tour price will include the Parks fees. For a list of licensed tour operators, visit the Gwaii Haanas webpage