Should I get travel insurance?
Travel insurance and/or trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended. Frequently, many transportation routes (plane and ferry), as well as tours on Haida Gwaii are postponed or canceled due to weather or sea conditions. This applies year-round.
Is there public transit available on island?
Unfortunately, there is no public transportation on island. Most communities will have a taxi service. There are several companies on island that will provide taxi services and tours.
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 in between the communities on the main highway. There is an extensive network of unpaved roads too, some suitable for a camper-van on short distances, and some not advisable. You will want to enquire locally at the Visitor Information Centres for information on the state of the roads and logging activity.
How safe is it to bike around the islands?
Cycling is a great way to experience a destination, as it slows you down, keeps you active, gets you places you may not get to by conventional motor vehicle, and puts you in direct contact with the elements and with people. Haida Gwaii has a very limited network of paved roads, which means that if you choose to stick to the pavement, you won’t necessarily be cycling all that much, and you also will have a hard time getting lost. There is a much more extensive network of unpaved roads, logging roads, backroads etc, that can take you much farther into the wilderness, though it is not for everybody.
Is it necessary 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, etc)?
All tours, especially to Gwaii Haanas, should definitely be booked in advance. The Haida Heritage Centre & Saahlinda Naay Haida Gwaii 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). You can hike in Naikoon Provincial Park and other areas at your leisure with no reservations required.
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 website at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/gwaiihaanas/visit
What about Tsunamis?
If you are near the shoreline and feel a major earthquake making it difficult to stand, you must “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”, and then evacuate to higher ground immediately. High ground is considered anything over 10m above the high water mark. Ask your accommodation provider about evacuation spots and muster points. In late 2018, BC Hydro poles were painted with blue arrows to indicate the path to evacuation areas.
If a tsunami threat (or any other emergency like flooding or wildfires) is identified, authorities will notify the public via Environment Canada EC Alert, VHF 16, media like radio or TV, and direct to all LTE cell phones through AlertReady - the BC Emergency Alerting System - in the impacted area.
Tsunami Sirens are located in the communities of Daajing Giids Queen Charlotte, HlGaagilda Skidegate, Gaw Masset and Old Massett. The warnings sound like an air-raid siren. Every Tuesday at 7pm, the Village of Masset tests their emergency sirens; the fire department call out warning is first, and the tsunami warning siren is second. The Village of Queen Charlotte & HlGaagilda test their sirens every third Thursday in October on “Shake Out BC” day - please see shakeoutbc.ca for more information on this province-wide earthquake drill day.
How do I travel on forest/logging roads?
Firstly, many rental car companies on island will not allow you to take vehicles on logging roads or beaches. Make sure you abide by those directives first and foremost. It’s always a good idea to check road conditions at any of the local visitor information centres or gas stations.
When on the roads, turn your lights on! Day or night, the more visible you are, the better your chances of avoiding trouble. Forest roads are not built to the same standards as public highways. For example, they often have sharp, blind corners and narrow sections.
All drivers must be prepared to react to unexpected conditions and to be able to stop safely. For your own sake, stay alert and always be ready to take evasive action. Remember, dust means traffic.
Logging trucks use all or most of the road width because of their size. Please give logging trucks and other industrial traffic the right-of-way. Due to their size, they just can’t manoeuvre the way personal vehicles can.