Kayaking the Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest, on the central coast of BC, is part of the largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world. On this trip we'll head to the outer coast to explore that wind- and wave-tossed fringe that exemplifies the coastal wilderness of British Columbia. Remote beaches, whales, sea otters, wolf tracks in the sand, undeveloped campsites. A self-supported sea kayaking expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest is perfect for satisfying your need to get away from it all.
Remote Expedition Kayaking with Expert Guides
Great Bear Rainforest
Expedition travel, some wilderness experience
* Kayaking trips & tours are priced and charged in Canadian dollars and are subject to 5% GST and $20 / person environmental sustainability fee. Please see our Terms and Conditions for complete terms. To check live availability on any trip, click the Book Now tab and select a trip date.
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ENTER THE WILD CENTRAL COAST WITH US
This tour offers you a chance to paddle one of the most unique kayak routes in North America. It combines travel through an area teeming with wildlife along with excellent paddling amongst the beautiful outer islands of the Great Bear Rainforest. This trip takes place in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk First Nation.
We start and end this tour in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella, located on the Central Coast of BC (a 2.5-hour flight from Vancouver). The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world which means camping amongst giant Sitka spruce trees, ancient red cedars and western hemlocks that are nothing short of awe-inspiring. The area’s cold water and great tidal exchanges – not to mention healthy kelp forests – provide ample oxygen to support an incredible diversity of sea life from tiny shore creatures to majestic whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
This tour aims to help you experience the best and most beautiful parts of the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy by kayak. Bella Bella is a great location for starting our journey and from here we explore the intricate shoreline, beautiful long beaches, and windswept islands making our way towards Calvert Island. The water taxi transport back to Bella Bella on our last tour day means we see somewhere new and different every day of our journey, making the most of your time in the Great Bear Rainforest.
WHAT MAKES THIS TOUR SO UNIQUE?
Explore somewhere new each day! The Great Bear Rainforest area includes too many amazing places to explore in one trip – but in order to make the most of your time here we make use of a water taxi shuttle as part of our tour so we don’t need to spend time backtracking. This also allows us to get off the beaten track exploring some of the more remote areas and islands (weather and group permitting of course).
CAMPING AMONG STUNNING ISLANDS
There are so many beautiful places to stay you will be hard pressed to choose a favourite campsite. Each site has unique attributes either tucked in amongst towering forests, atop ancient village sites or overlooking wildlife rich waters. This is a true expedition style trip, which means we will move from camp to camp each day.
We will traverse both the relatively open waters of Hakai Passage, Kildidt Sound as well as the more protected islands of the islets in one of the most stunning seascapes around. This area has been featured in many documentaries and publications and is part of one of the largest protected areas on the coast because of its stunning beauty.
- Professional guiding service
- All kayaking equipment
(including kayaks, PFDs, paddles, pumps, ropes and sponges)
- Meals (lunch day 1 to lunch day 8)
- Cooking equipment and group shelter (tarps)
- Camping equipment including tents and Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads
- Park and land use permits
- Water taxi drop off and pick up
If you are planning on bringing any of your own equipment please double-check the packing list to ensure you have the appropriate gear and please let our office know in advance of the tour to avoid us bringing duplicates.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?
Not included in the tour cost are accommodation before or after the kayaking portion of your trip;
- Flights, airport transfers, ferries, seabus, taxis
- Travel/medical insurance
- Alcoholic or carbonated beverages
- Rain gear*
- Sleeping bags*
- Personal items (toiletries, clothing, etc.)
*Sleeping bags and rain gear may be rented if you prefer not to travel with them (please reserve in advance; may be booked online with your trip reservation).
Spirit of the West acknowledges and operates in the unceded traditional territory of the Mamalilikulla-Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em, 'Namgis, Tlowitsis, Kwikwasut’inuxw, Nuu-chah-nulth, We Wai Kai, Homalco, Klahoose and Heiltsuk First Nations.
The Great Bear Rainforest Outer Islands Expedition starts and ends in Bella Bella on the Central Coast of British Columbia. The details below should help give you a fuller picture of the day-to-day trip experience.
DAY PRIOR to your Kayak Tour
Traveling to Bella Bella on the central coast
Pacific Coastal Airlines offers flights from Vancouver or from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Bella Bella.
BC Ferries also has regular departures from Port Hardy to Bella Bella on the Discovery Coast Connector route. Leave Port Hardy at 7:30am the day before your kayaking tour to arrive in Bella Bella at 12:50pm the same day, giving you a few hours to explore before meeting your guides at the pre-trip meeting at 6pm. Please note: If you are traveling to Bella Bella by ferry you will likely need to spend the night before in Port Hardy given the early morning ferry departure.
On the day following your tour, the return ferry to Port Hardy departs Bella Bella at 6:10pm and arrives in Port Hardy at 11:30pm. Ferry reservations are highly recommended. (Times accurate at the time of publication – please double-check before planning your onward travel).
Pre-tRIP MEETING LOCATION: Fisherman’s Bar & Grill at shearwater resort on Denny island, 6pm
Your guides will welcome you to the central coast and give you an overview of the trip, answering any last-minute questions and making sure everyone is prepared for the trip. You’ll receive your dry bags and any other requested gear items so you may pack your bags in preparation for departing in the morning. Shearwater Resort on Denny Island is only a short seabus ride away from Bella Bella.
This is the proposed itinerary for our trip, but it is flexible and may be adapted to suit the interests of those who join the trip as well as weather conditions. On this tour, we can expect a combination of exposed open coastline and more protected inner passageways. As this is an expedition-style tour, we usually move campsites each night. We may have an opportunity to stay in the same place for two nights if conditions allow.
MEETING LOCATION: Top of the government dock in downtown Bella Bella, 9am
Meet your guides in Bella Bella in the heart of BC’s Central Coast. We will meet in central Bella Bella at the government dock. After an introduction to the area and Heiltsuk First Nation with a cultural interpreter, we will sort our gear and then set off on our water taxi for the shuttle out to our first campsite. Once there, we will sort out gear and prepare for our adventure, beginning with an orientation to the kayaks and gear, learning efficient paddling techniques and safety procedures. Once everyone is comfortable with their boats we’ll launch for our first strokes in the Great Bear Sea.
DAYS 2 to 7
This is a beautiful area to paddle and we work with the conditions and remain open to adventure. Each day, your guides will assess the weather, tides, and sea state to determine the destination for the day. Flexibility is key. Depending on the weather and exact drop-off location, we may plan to paddle the remote Goose Group Islands (weather depending), McMullins and Tribal Group. Moving southeast we’ll enter the spectacular islands and beaches of the Hakai Conservancy, continuing in the direction of Calvert Island.
We will meet a water taxi about mid-day for transport back to Bella Bella. We expect to arrive in Bella Bella by mid-late afternoon, allowing us time to relax in the village before heading south by air or ferry the following day. Please do not book any flights for the last day of your trip.
Below is a list of commonly asked questions. If you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call us.
+ WHAT MAKES OUR GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST EXPEDITION SPECIAL?
The Great Bear Rainforest is the most adventurous trip we operate in British Columbia. For eight days, you’ll travel through an area teeming with wildlife amongst the beautiful wind-swept outer islands of the Great Bear Rainforest. This region is a part of the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, giving you a sense of what forests were like in times past.
This trip is based from the village of Bella Bella in the heart of British Columbia’s Central Coast. We make use of a water taxi to access the outer islands at the beginning of the trip, travel through the islands for 8 days, then take a water taxi back to Bella Bella on the last day providing unparalleled access to this stunning place. This tour is suitable for folks with previous paddling and camping experience only.
+ WHAT ARE CAMPSITES IN THE GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST LIKE?
On our Great Bear Rainforest expedition, we are often camping along the stunning windswept beaches that the central coast of BC is known for. Campsites are all undeveloped and may be clearings in the woods or on the beach above the high tide line.
While this tour takes place in a more remote location, there may be times (on occasion) when we are camping in the vicinity of other paddlers. Campsite choice will be based on route options, weather and sea state conditions, and group size.
+ AM I EXPERIENCED ENOUGH FOR THIS EXPEDITION? HOW LONG ARE THE PADDLING DAYS?
The area we are paddling in is very remote and can present challenging weather conditions with wind and rain. There are some open water crossings with ocean swell and the possibility of light surf landings. Your guides will exercise conservative judgement when planning the daily routes and will adjust to suit the needs of the group and the weather/water conditions.
While some paddling and outdoor experience is helpful, you don’t need to be an expert kayaker. Your guides will teach a review lesson on efficient paddling techniques and rescue procedures. Your guides will also offer coaching throughout the trip. Please indicate your paddling/outdoor experience in the “Other Notes” section when you book your tour and if you have questions about if this tour is suitable for you, contact us.
Paddling time will depend on each individual trip, our daily destination, weather and sea state conditions, and the group’s overall abilities. Generally, we travel between 4-7 hours a day on our expedition-style trips, not including breaks and lunch. We set a pace which is pleasant and achievable for all guests.
+ WILL WE HAVE ACCESS TO SHOWERS AND TOILETS?
There is minimal fresh water to be found throughout the outer islands on this tour. Therefore, salt water is your best bet for freshening up. Personal wet wipes are also a great addition in this setting! Please only bring earth-friendly and biodegradable soap and shampoo.
Bathroom facilities are not common in most wilderness settings, especially in this area. Your guides carry a portable toilet system to be used throughout the trip. We always designate an area that works for ensuring everyone’s privacy. We are very familiar with making sure all of our guests feel comfortable and informed – please feel free to contact our office with any questions you might have regarding this matter.
+ WHERE SHOULD WE STAY IN BELLA BELLA? IS ACCOMMODATION INCLUDED?
There are very limited lodging options in the Bella Bella area and we recommend staying at the Shearwater Resort which is owned and operated by the Heiltsuk Nation and is a short sea bus ride away on Denny Island ($5-10/person, cash only). This is the location of the pre-trip meeting and where our guides and most guests stay. We have found the easiest way to book with Shearwater is through their online booking form.
Pre-booking accommodation for the night before and after your tour is key to an optimal travel experience. Due to the remote nature of where we operate, immediate onward travel upon your return is not recommended due to the slight possibility of delays due to weather or sea state.
This accommodation for night prior to tour departure and the day of our return is not included in the tour costs and should be reserved as soon as your tour is confirmed to ensure you secure a place to stay.
+ WHERE IS THE MEETING POINT TO START THIS TRIP?
Pre-trip meeting location: Fisherman’s Bar & Grill at Shearwater Resort on Denny Island at 6 pm the day prior to your tour departure (day before your tour)
Tour meeting location: Top of the government dock in downtown Bella Bella at 9 am (Day 1)
Our adventure begins from the town of Bella Bella on the central coast of British Columbia. Please arrive 20 minutes early to allow time to unload, carry your luggage down to the launching spot, and arrange parking (if necessary) to leave your vehicle for the duration of your tour.
+ MORE FAQS
Head to our main FAQ page for more Frequently Asked Questions.
We're proud of our great reviews - but don't just take our word for it, see what people are saying over on Trip Advisor. View Reviews
“Everything about this trip was exceptional. The highlight for me was our two guides - the complimentary soft and hard skills as well as the empathy and enthusiasm that they bring to their work. Brandon was a fountain of knowledge about intertidal life and really opened my eyes to what this exquisite part of nature has to offer. His gentle and respectful nature made one feel well cared for and safe. As well as his humor and giggles. I can’t thank the guides enough for all they contributed to my experience.”
“The morning in Bella Bella with a talk with Frank was amazing, enlightening and informative. The cultural center is a must see; an artist happened to be on hand and provided info to us as well. It was an important reminder we are in Heiltsuk territory.”
“Overall experience was great. Highlights - crossing in swells, stops to admire surroundings, guides knowledge and sharing of charting, marine life and paddling supports. Meals were well organized, healthy, well prepared and well presented. Guides work very hard, morning to sundown - Impressive! Great problem solvers and accommodated guests.”
“Great bear expedition is a must for serious kayaker. 8 days in the Great Bear Rainforest (Hakai Conservancy) are about as close to west coast kayaking heaven as one could get. This was an amazing opportunity to kayak in this wild and magical land. As usual, the SOW arrangements for food and equipment were excellent. Wind, rain, ocean swells, beach camping are all part of the challenging fun."
"We really enjoyed the SoW kayak trip in the Hakai area of the Great Bear Rainforest. This region is so remote and unique, it was a real opportunity to visit there. The white sandy beaches, big crossings and canal-like channels were amazing. This is our fifth trip with Spirit of the West and all of them have been great. The routes, the guides and the food are excellent."
“Amazing, wonderful, fabulous ... we can't say enough about our adventure”
"The guides were fantastic, the communication before the trip was great. Everything was well organised. I can't fault anything. A highly recommended trip and company to do it with."
"One of the best experiences of my life , very professional guides , amazing food and a brilliant trip , well done Spirit of the West Adventure."
"Great campsites in very remote places in between a lot of wildlife. We were just spoiled of good kayak equipment and the best guides you could imagine who made the best food after a nice day kayaking. Everything was so very well organised and planed! Thank you..."
Our online booking system allows you easy access for booking your tour with Spirit of the West Adventures, any time of day.
Before finalizing your reservation, please carefully read over our Terms & Conditions, as these terms will apply to your booking. We also highly recommend that you look into Travel Insurance options to protect your travels before booking your tour as some types of insurance (such as Cancel for Any Reason insurance) can only be accessed within a limited period of time after paying for any portion of your tour.
If you think that you would like to book a trip, but need time to look into other travel arrangements, please contact our office and we will place a temporary hold on your spaces. We also offer real humans to speak with if that’s your preference, so feel free to call our office at 1-800-307-3982 (from within Canada and the U.S) or 1-250-285-2121 (from overseas). We can be reached by email at [email protected]. If, for any reason, you are having trouble booking your trip, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to help!
We are happy to accommodate many dietary restrictions. However, dietary restrictions add additional complexity and costs to preparing for your tour. Please see below for some of the dietary restrictions we can accommodate and the associated costs for substitutions.
- $75 fee: gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, and vegan (please add by pressing the blue + beside “Dietary Accommodation” when booking)
- No additional cost: vegetarian, no red meat, no pork, no fish, no seafood
If you have dietary restrictions or allergies not listed above, please contact us at [email protected] to discuss if we are able to accommodate your needs and any additional charges. We take great pride and pleasure in serving you the best food we can for your adventure!