Frequently Asked Questions about Boat Tours
Health, Fitness & Safety Questions
Clothing & Gear Questions
Tour Logistics Questions
While you don't have to be an athlete to go on our tours these are wilderness adventures on small open boats, so there are a few key points to consider to be sure this mode of travel is right for you. You should think about how you'll manage on a sometimes-bouncing boat, how you feel about walking on unmaintained trails, whether or not you can get in and out of the zodiac boats, and how you feel about chilly and unpredictable weather. We provide detailed information on each of these considerations on our Health & Fitness page. Please read it thoroughly, and if you have any doubts about your fitness level, feel free to contact us to discuss options.
We really do think you will be happier on your tour if you wear really warm clothes, and the same accessories you would bring to a ski hill. The damp air on Haida Gwaii and the frequent rain make the environment feel much colder than you might expect from the weather forecast. Of course, there are some days where the weather warms up and our guests think we are crazy for making them dress like this. But remember, you can always take layers off, and we do have storage space in the boat where you can stow unwanted clothing. On a day tour, you might get away with less layers if it happens to be a sunny day, but on a multi-day tour the weather is likely to change from day to day, so you should be sure to bring all your layers even if you don't wear them the first day. A note regarding raingear: we provide heavy rubber raincoats and rainpants, but if you have your own raingear, you should bring that too. You can wear your lighter raingear under the stuff that we provide, and then when we get to shore you can take off the heavy raingear (which is a bit akward to walk in) and just use your lighter, more comfortable gear.
We will provide you with tall rubber boots to wear on the tour so that you stay dry while getting on and off the boat. We do suggest bringing sturdy walking shoes or light hiking boots; in the event that the boots don't fit you well, or if you find them uncomfortable for walking, you can change into your shoes on shore. Most people find it easiest to wear the boots all day, so that you don't have to be constantly changing from boots to your own footwear, but it's nice to have shoes you can use for short hikes in case the boots don't work for you. On overnight trips, you might want to bring a pair of slippers or sandals to wear in the evening, but most people will find they can get away with just one pair of shoes for the whole trip. Keep in mind that your walking shoes are likely to get wet and muddy at some point in the trip, and they should have good traction for walking on slippery surfaces.
Absolutely! We time our tour around the ferries to and from Graham Island. If you come over from Graham Island on the morning of the tour, you will need to catch the first ferry over from Skidegate (departing at 7:45). We will get you back in time for the final ferry back on the last day of tour (leaving at 5:35). Note, there is NOT time for the van to return to Sandspit prior to catching the last ferry, so if you are planning to catch this last ferry, please do not leave anything in Sandspit while out on the tour (eg. rental car, extra luggage, etc).
For the Louise Island Day tours, we will send you back over to Graham Island in a water shuttle to be dropped off at either Skidegate Landing or the Queen Charlotte Harbour. Your return should be around 6:30 - 7pm. Note: there may be some days where we time our return for the 5:35pm evening ferry back over to Skidegate. We will let you know when this is the case.
No, you do not need to attend the orientation prior to the tour. While you are certainly welcome to attend the orientation at the Heritage Centre if you wish, we will provide the relevant orientation material throughout the trip.
On the morning of your trip, we will have you fill out a trip sheet that ends up being submitted to Parks Canada for their records. Details include your name, postal code, age category etc. We will also have you sign our waiver.
We do often take children out on our tours, and while they may not be quite as interested in the historical and cultural components of the tour, they are usually pretty excited about the intertidal life, wildlife, our floating lodge and bouncy boat ride. Some things to consider when deciding if it'd be suitable for your children is that the boat rides are often cold, bouncy and quite wet, and while we try to keep the portions on the boat to less than 2 hours, there are some longer stretches on the overnight tours where we are unable to stop (due to lack of good landing beaches etc). While we have child sized PFDs, we have very limited small raingear, so you should be prepared with oodles of warm clothing, good rain gear, and snacks to keep your kids happy, warm and dry. We can provide a large raincoat to wrap around them like a blanket while on the boat. We do not have any booster seats or car seats for our vans, so you will be responsible for bringing one if needed.
One of the main focuses of our trips is the time spent at the ancient Haida Village sites. These spots are usually a highlight for our guests, and they are often a time for quiet reflection and great cultural learning. There is usually first a tour provided by the guide or by one of the Haida Watchmen, and then guests have some free time to take pictures, etc. We just ask that parents ensure their kids are respectful of the sites, and of the other guests throughout the tour, by way of things like staying on the trails, listening to the guide, etc.
In general, we are willing to take you on the boat if you are in the first or second trimester, but after that the risk from bouncing on the boat is too high. We do suggest that you talk with your doctor before booking. Be aware that there can sometimes be bouncing and jarring motions in the boat that we can't avoid, and you would be far from medical help should anything go wrong.
There are a variety of options for dealing with a medical emergency, including the marine or air services provided by the Canadian Coast Guard, Air Ambulance helicopters, private helicopters or float planes, Parks Canada vessels, and our own boats. You should be aware that if you need to get to a hospital, it will take several hours or maybe much longer. The main means of evacuation would be by boat or by helicopter, depending on the severity of your emergency, and in some cases the local hospital on Haida Gwaii might not be able to deal with your case and you would be flown to Vancouver or another larger hospital. As with any wilderness area, travel to Gwaii Haanas involves a level of risk that you would not be exposed to if you stay at home.
There are black bears on Haida Gwaii, but they are generally shy and wary of humans. There has never been a report of a bear attack on Haida Gwaii. As with any wildlife, there is always some level of risk, but the islands are relatively much safer than other parts of BC in terms of dangerous wildlife.
There are several factors that influence the maximums we can take on each tour, but generally on our Louise Island Day tour we take a maximum of 11 people, and 8-10 on our overnight tours.
We have never had a client fall out of a boat while it's moving, although some people have fallen into shallow water while getting on or off at a beach! Although we have never had a real-life overboard situation, we do practice drills each spring with all our guides, so that they are prepared in the unlikely event that you are the first to ever go over the side.
We usually find that people prone to seasickness do not have an issue on our boats, as the motion is usually more bouncy than the slow rocking that normally triggers motion sickness. That being said, please do tell your guide if you are susceptible to seasickness so they can avoid situations that are more likely to trigger it. You are welcome to bring anti-nausea medication, but we suggest that you hold off taking it to see if really need it, so you aren't unnecessarily drowsy for your whole trip!
This is a very hard question to answer, because the wildlife is very unpredictable. You are likely to see a variety of birds including bald eagles and seabirds, and smaller marine mammals like seals or sealions. Larger marine mammals, like whales, are not an everyday occurance, and in general you are more likely to see them if you go on a longer trip. Your chances are also higher in the early season (May and early June). There is also a possibility of seeing land animals, such as deer, and perhaps a black bear if you are lucky.
We strive to provide tasty, filling, and healthy food—and lots of it! You can expect home-baked goodies and snacks, a hearty lunch each day (not just sandwiches) and locally sourced ingredients for some meals (such as fish). Our menu does vary depending on any dietary concerns you might have, so be sure to tell us about allergies or preferences. We have some great recipes for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, or other dietary choices. Please note that we don't have coffee during the day, so if you are a really hard-core coffee drinker you might consider bringing a thermos.
We have a gear storage shed beside our Seaport B&B where clients can leave excess luggage. You can also leave bags at our gear shed at Moresby Camp (where we launch the Zodiacs). Storage is unlocked and at your own risk (but we've never had any problems!).
If you are a couple, you will definitely be able to have your own room (although at Rose Harbour Guesthouse on the 4-day tour, you might have two single beds instead of a double). If you are a single traveller, we an almost always give you a private room at our floating cabin, although in rare circumstances we might have to ask you to share with someone of the same sex. At Rose Harbour (on the 4-day tour) you will have to share a room with someone of the same gender, but this is just one night out of the 3 nights of the tour.
No. All our prices are per person, meaning the cost is the same for single travellers.
If we have to cancel a tour due to weather, or other circumstances outside our control, we will try to reschedule to a different day that works for you so that you don't miss out on the tour. However, if you can't come on a different date, we will of course refund you 100% of the tour cost. Each summer, we have to cancel about 3-5 day trips due to weather. Typically we do not cancel overnight tours, we just change up the itinerary of the tour to visit more protected areas while the weather is rough, and more exposed areas once the weather calms down. Please note that if you choose not to come on a tour you have booked (for example, because you see that it is raining heavily on the morning of the tour) we do not provide a refund. The type of bad weather we cancel for includes high winds and waves, but does not include rain; if we cancelled for rain, we wouldn't be able to operate in Haida Gwaii!
We do encourage you to come prepared with a little spare cash in case you choose to tip your guide. While there is no obligation to tip, it is becoming more and more common to leave a gratuity for the staff on guided tours, especially if you feel that they have gone above and beyond in providing you with a great experience. If you tip your guide, they will share it with the office staff and cooks who work behind the scenes to make the tour possible, but you can also leave tips specifically for other staff. If you would like to leave a tip by credit card, you can give our office a call after the tour and we will be happy to charge your card and pass the tip on to the staff.