Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling With Us & in Gwaii Haanas
By Ferry - There is ferry service from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii (6 hours), as well as a ferry service from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert (15 hours). These routes get very busy in the summer, so try to book as far in advance as possible, especially if you are taking a vehicle. Visit www.BCFerries.ca for more information.
When you arrive on Haida Gwaii, you will need to take another small ferry from Skidegate Landing (where the ferry from Prince Rupert docks) to Alliford Bay (20 minutes), where you will need to drive for about 15 minutes into Sandspit. There is limited transportation into Sandspit from the ferry if you do not have a vehicle. The main options are to arrange a taxi service ahead of time (you won't find any taxis waiting at the terminal), or catch a ride in with someone on the ferry.
By Air - Air Canada offers flights between Vancouver and Sandspit once or twice a day, depending on the time of year. For more information visit www.AirCanada.ca
Pacific Coastal offers flights between Vancouver and Masset (at the north end of the islands) once a day. For more information visit www.pacificcoastal.com
Bumped Luggage - There seems to be an ongoing issue with “bumped” bags for people flying into Sandspit, which continues to cause difficulty for guests. Most of the summer there is only one flight per day, and if the flights are full for several days in a row, bumped luggage often takes several days before it finally arrives. As we've seen this ruin guests' trips, we strongly suggest arriving with at least one full day between your arrival and trip departure, especially as it also gives you a buffer in case of missed/delayed flights. If you plan to arrive the day before your departure, we strongly suggest bringing your absolute essentials in your carry on bag.
A common question for visitors is what time of year to visit Haida Gwaii. The answer is...it depends! First of all, keep in mind that tours to Gwaii Haanas or any remote part of the islands are only available in spring, summer, and early fall, due to relatively calm weather, warmer temperatures and longer days. We offer all our services (tours, transportation, and rentals) from approximately May 1st to September 15th each year, and during this time frame you will find that other services on the islands (such as restaurants and accommodations) are also open. Here are some ideas to help you choose the best time of year for your ultimate Gwaii Haanas experience:
May: Although May temperatures are cooler, it has the most hours of sunlight of any month. Birding is excellent, and there is a good chance of seeing whales. Visitor sites and popular campsites don't get much traffic and are peaceful and relaxing.
June: Weather can be cool and wet (but that's true of any month around here). Days are very long especially at the solstice in late June. Good chance of seeing whales (especially in early June). Good birding. Visitor sites and popular campsites don't get much traffic and are peaceful and relaxing.
July and August: Temperatures are warmer on average, and there are some hot sunny days, but we can also have cold, wet weather just like any time of year. We don't get much “summery” weather, so don't expect hot temperatures, but in general the ride on the boat is not quite as cold as other times of year. The majority of tour companies in Gwaii Haanas operate during this time frame, so you will likely meet other groups each time you stop at a major visitor site. If you're kayaking, popular camping beaches may be occupied, and you may have to search a little harder for a peaceful campsite.However, the area still feels empty for the most part; it's typical to pass only a few other boats in a day's travel.
Late August- early September: Weather can be relatively warm with some nice sunny days, but stronger winds and heavy rains begin to roll in around mid September. Salmon begin to spawn in the streams in late August, and September is your best chance to see salmon and the black bears that eat them. This is also a great time to spot migratory sea birds.
Note: As more visitors discover Gwaii Haanas, the peak season (July and August) is getting increasingly busy, and tours and accommodations are usually booked well in advance. We encourage you to consider visiting in the shoulder season (May, June or September) if you are someone who likes to book at the last minute, or if you would prefer to see a minimum of other people while you travel through Gwaii Haanas.
We've got six reasons why we think you should experience Gwaii Haanas with us. From our staff to our boats and our floating lodge, we're certain we offer a unique, safe, dependable and educational tour through a spectacular part of the world. We also happen to be local!
There are a lot of fantastic books that explore the history, culture and environment of Haida Gwaii. The following are a few of our favourites:
Haida Monumental Art
G.F. MacDonald, UBC Press
An informative book that reviews many aspects of Haida life: Cosmology, Mythology, Ethnohistory, and Monumental Art. It covers the main village sites of the islands in great depth. There is a condensed version of this book called 'Chiefs of the Sea and Sky'.
Ninstints- Haida World Heritage Site. G.F. MacDonald, UBC Press
A great book for visitors to SGang Gwaay (Ninstints), depicting the overall village layout and illustrations of the totem poles prior the 1957 Museum Expedition when many poles where removed to museums.
Those Born At Koona. John and Carolyn Smyly, Hancock House Publishers
This book is useful if visiting the village of K'uuna (Skedans). It reviews the overall village layout, providing an insight of village and household life, and is complemented with photos and sketches of the totem poles. If visiting the Royal Museum in Victoria, BC, or the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa,Ontario one can view the small replica of Skedans.
A Guide to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Neil Carey, Alaska Northwest Publishing
A local resident of Sandspit, Neil Carey provides an easy read of adventurous places to explore on the islands, and general information of his personal experiences as a resident to the islands.
The Queen Charlotte Islands,-Places and Names. K. Dalzell, Fleming-Review Printing. This book provides a good general overview of many aspects of the islands' history, with a focus on post-Contact pioneer history. This book is structured around place names, and gives the history of the naming of almost every landmark on the islands.
To The Charlottes- George Dawson's 1878 Survey of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Douglas Cole, UBC Press. The journals of George Dawson, capturing the natural and human history of the islands in the late 1800s. Sometimes dry, but a good read for those looking for a window into islands history at this changing time period of the islands culture.
Islands At The Edge. Islands Protection Society, Douglas and McIntyre
A look into the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.