Gwaii Haanas End to End: 15 Days
If you want to see everything and have plenty of time to do it, this two week expedition is the trip for you. This trip takes you from one end of Gwaii Haanas to the other, with time to explore all the highlights. The route includes exposed, open waters as well as more protected areas. As the longest of our itineraries, this trip gives you the best chance to see wildlife, varied scenery, and cultural and historical sites.
This itinerary is based on a trip traveling from North to South. You can also do this route in reverse, beginning in the south and heading north.
Day 1: Moresby Explorers will pick you up from your accommodations in Sandspit at about 7:30 a.m. You will load your gear into a van and drive for about 1 hour down the logging roads to Moresby Camp. Here you load gear and kayaks into one of our open Zodiacs and head into Gwaii Haanas. After about 1.5 hours in the boat we reach a beach on Kunga Island near Tanu Village, the start of your kayak expedition. After unloading from the Zodiac you are on your own for the rest of the trip.
Day 2-14: You will most likely want to start by visiting Tanu, an ancient Haida village site where you can see remains of fallen houses and meet the Haida Watchmen who stay there in the summer months. From there, you can decide to follow the more protected route along the inside of Lyell Island, or brave the exposed waters of the east coast of Lyell if the weather permits. By following the east coast of Lyell, you will be able to make a stop at the Watchmen site of Windy Bay, where a new totem pole was raised in 2013. However, be aware that you may get stormed in at Windy Bay and should check the weather carefully before planning to do this section.
South of Lyell Island, you will arrive at Hotsprings Island; the hot pools here dried up due to an earthquake in 2012, but there are still some “footbaths” of hot water, and Haida Watchmen are stationed here as well. After crossing Juan Perez Sound, your most exposed crossing on this trip, you will come into the Burnaby Island area. Try to time your arrival at Burnaby Narrows for a low tide so that you can check out the beautiful intertidal life that this area is famous for.
As you make your way south out of the mouth of Skincuttle Inlet, you will quickly get into some more exposed shorelines, and will have to keep a close eye on the weather each day. There are several sheltered bays and inlets in this area where you can wait out a storm if necessary. After making your way through Huston Stewart Channel, you will come out onto the west coast of Moresby Island, where you can experience the exposed shorelines of the open Pacific.
One of the biggest draws of this area is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of SGang Gwaay (Ninstints), which can be reached in a day paddle from one of the campsites in the Huston Stewart Channel area (provided the weather cooperates). You may have to wait several days for the ideal conditions to get out to Sgang Gwaay, so it is wise to leave yourself some extra time in this area. Plan to end your trip at one of the campsites near Rose Harbour in Huston Stewart Channel (we suggest Raspberry Cove).
You can camp wherever you like (except a few closed areas set out in your Parks orientation). However, there are some long stretches of rocky shoreline without good beaches in the southern part of Gwaii Haanas, so you will want to be sure to find a campsite before too late in the day, in case another group is already at your planned destination.
Day 15: Before heading out on your trip, you should check with our office about expected pick-up times and where you plan to be on your pick-up day. In general, you should have most of your gear packed up and organized by mid-day (leave a tarp or tent for shelter if it is raining). Wait for the Zodiac on the beach you agreed on before departure, or if you are unsure, go to the big beach at Raspberry Cove across from Rose Harbour. As weather, tides, wild life sightings etc. all have an impact on our speed we cannot give you a precise ETA, but we usually arrive early to late afternoon. When we arrive we will unload our outgoing guests, load your group and head back to Moresby Camp, about 4 hours on the Zodiac. On arrival at Moresby Camp we will trailer the boat, load the gear into the van, head back to Sandspit and drop you off at your accommodations.
Transportation for this trip: For this itinerary, you will need boat transportation to Tanu and from Rose Harbour (or vice versa). Prices and availability can be found on our Transportation schedule. To calculate the total price, be sure to note that each price is per person, one-way.
Rental kayaks for this trip: We rent high quality, Canadian made, fiberglass kayaks. These kayaks have been chosen for their reliability, stability and performance. We suggest that you include at least one double kayak in case someone in your group gets hurt or can't paddle.
VHF Radio rentals for this trip: If you do not have your own Marine VHF Radio, you must rent one from us. As well as all the weather and marine frequencies, our radios are programmed with a private repeater frequency allowing kayakers to communicate directly with our boats and office from most places north of Burnaby Narrows.
Marine Charts: For this trip you will need chart number 3853 and/or all of 3807, 3808, 3809 and 3825. Marine charts are available from most marine stores and online.
Need More information? These resources might help!
Because of the vast size of the Gwaii Haanas area, most kayakers choose to get dropped off and/or picked up by our high-speed Zodiacs allowing you to maximize your paddling time!
We rent high quality single and double fiberglass sea kayaks. We also rent and sell essential paddling and outdoor equipment. The minimum rental time is one week.
If you are planning a kayak trip in Gwaii Haanas, we've got great resources to get you started! Here is important information on organizing your trip, including suggested itineraries.