Box 569 Heriot Bay, British Columbia, Canada V0P 1H0
North America: 1.800.307.3982 | Local & Overseas:

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North America: 1.800.307.3982
Local & Overseas:
[email protected]

    Great Bear Rainforest Kayak Tours

    Expedition kayaking on the remote and wild central coast of BC.

    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


    8 Days


    Great Bear Rainforest

    For Who:

    Expedition travel, some wilderness experience

    Tour Price:

    CAD $2995*

    What's Included?

    Click to learn more

    Minimum Age:

    Expedition style
    Scenic, mountains

    * 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.


    This tour offers you a chance to paddle one of the most unspoilt and 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 for ample oxygen in the water, supporting 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 this area 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.


    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).


    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.

    Great Bear Rainforest Sea Kayaking

    Great Bear Rainforest Wildlife Viewing


    We will traverse both the relatively open waters of Hakai Passage, Kildidt Sound as well as the more protected islands of the and 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 it’s 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.


    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.

    DAY 1
    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.

    Great Bear Rainforest sea kayaking

    Great Bear Rainforest camping

    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.

    DAY 8

    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.


    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.


    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. 


    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, though we exercise conservative judgement when planning the day’s route and our guides will modify the route to suit the needs of the group and the weather/water conditions. 

    While some paddling experience and comfort in the outdoors is helpful, you don’t need to be an expert kayaker. Your guides will teach a review lesson on efficient paddling technique and rescue procedures, as well as 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.  


    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. 


    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.


    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.


    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


    “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..."



    On the Great Bear Rainforest Outer Islands Expedition we will be packing everything into our kayaks each day in order to travel to our next campsite. While space is limited, please ensure you bring enough to stay warm and dry. The following is a list of suggested items that should keep you a happy camper.

    Sea kayaks are oddly-shaped vessels to pack, so the key is to pack into the small compact bags which we provide. (The video to the right also provides some practical, and humorous, tips and tricks you might appreciate).

    Sea kayaks are basically watertight, although small amounts of water may get in through the rudder lines and hatches. In the event of rain or dropping gear in the water we try to keep things as waterproof as possible. We provide you with waterproof storage bags also know as ‘dry bags’ (these will be given to you when we meet in Bella Bella).

    If you prefer to bring your own dry bags, please note the largest bag should not be larger than a sleeping bag or 20 litres; several small bags are best. We will provide one 5 litre, two 10 litre and one 20 litre dry bags for you to pack into. Additional bags may be available depending on space in the kayaks. The 5 litre bag is good for storing small items such as cameras, sunscreen, glasses, etc. The larger ones will be used for storing the rest of your clothing. Please see our suggestions for waterproofing your sleeping bag.

    Shoes can generally be packed loose in the kayak. All participants will also pack some of the group gear and food in their kayak. Don’t worry, it always looks like an impossible mountain of stuff to fit in the kayaks, but with some perseverance and coaching from your guides we always manage to fit everything.


    Please note that our summer temperatures from July until September are generally quite comfortable with temperatures from 18-30 degrees Celsius / 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not uncommon to find mid day summers hot enough to want to cool off in the ocean! June and later September will have cooler temperatures, and at ANY TIME OF YEAR we can have rain & wind, with temperatures occasionally as low as 13 C / 55 F. So, we say it is best to come prepared for any type of weather.


    – DRY BAGS

    If you have your own gear and would prefer to use it on your tour, please bring it to the pre-trip meeting so that we can make sure it is suitable and meets safety requirements. The following is a list of suggested items to bring along. If you have any concerns or questions about the list, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    • Sleeping bag – A 3-season synthetic bag is recommended. Down bags will work but please take extra care to waterproof. If you are uncertain about whether or not you have the appropriate bag just give us a call or check with your local outdoor store. If you do not have a sleeping bag or would prefer not to travel with one, these may be rented for $25 plus tax. Please reserve in advance. To waterproof  your sleeping bag line a compression sack with a heavy duty garbage bag. Press the air out of the bag with your knee and then keep it compact with the compression sac (may be purchased at any outdoor shop). This also helps keep your bag small for travel.
    • Wetshoes – A pair that can get wet such as sturdy full strapped sandals (such as Keens, Tevas or Chacos), neoprene booties, crocs, or rubber boots. Please avoid flip-flops/thongs. Spirit of the West has a wide range of rubber boot sizes (youth – men’s size 13) available to borrow free of charge if you don’t have your own wet shoes or have limited space in your luggage. Please arrange these in advance as we won’t have a selection with us in Bella Bella.
    • Camp footwear – An additional pair of footwear that you plan to keep dry. Runners, trainers or light hikers are great.
    • Hat – A sun hat such as a baseball hat or full-brimmed hat as well as a wool or fleece warm hat for evenings or cooler days.
    • Sunglasses & sunscreen (stored in a Ziploc bag) – A must for protection from sun and glare off of the water. Safety cords on your glasses are highly recommended.
    • Small flashlight or headlamp – With spare batteries. Headlamps are preferable as they allow for hands free operation.
    • Camera – In a waterproof bag or case, or you may use our dry bags.camping-2
    • Bathing suit
    • Personal items – Toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap/shampoo, washcloth, feminine hygiene products, hairbrush, etc.
    • Medication – If you are bringing medication please ensure that… 1) The name and expiry date of drug is on the container; 2) You have the detailed instructions of your dosage and frequency; 3) It is packed in a water and sunproof container; 4) You bring a full extra dosage of your medication in a separate container to leave with your guide, in case you misplace or lose yours, or are weathered in. If you are flying, please pack all necessary medication in your carry-on luggage. This will help eliminate some stress should your checked bags be misplaced in transit.
    • Mosquito repellent – Insects are not a significant concern for us in our coastal ecosystem, however for those unused to insects or with particular sensitivities some repellent may come in handy.
    • Ziploc bags & several large garbage bags – We will provide you with dry bags, but these come in handy for transporting laundry and/or wet clothing.
    • Water bottle – Bike bottles or Nalgene-style bottles work best.
    • Gloves (optional) – Biking gloves work well to protect your hands from blisters. If you are really concerned abut cold hands, and are paddling in the spring or fall seasons, you may want to invest in neoprene gloves or pogies.
    • Beverages – We supply a wide range of teas and coffee as well as juices. You are welcome to bring along soda pops or alcoholic beverages if you choose to. Please note however that we do expect our guests to consume alcoholic beverages responsibly and strictly enforce a no alcohol on the water policy.
    • Book or journal
    • Binoculars (optional)
    • Gratuity for your guides – at your own discretion.


    Clothing should be suitable for the time of year, bearing in mind that it could become cold and wet at anytime of year. Layering is the best way to regulate body temperature and maintain warmth. We suggest avoiding cotton (except for those hot days). Cotton has no insulation value when wet. An inner material that wicks moisture from the body and gives a comfortable dry feeling even while wet is the best first layer (Polypropylene, Lycra, Nylon, Polyester). A synthetic material such as fleece or pile makes the best second layer to provide warmth. Wool is also suitable.

    • Rain jacket & rain pants – For the unexpected nasty weather. To test your waterproofness – jump in the shower and see if you stay dry! (we’re serious!). If you would like to rent/hire rain gear from us, please reserve in advance of the tour. Tops and bottoms can be rented for $25 plus tax for the set.
    • Light windproof jacket (optional)
    • Long-sleeved non-cotton shirt (synthetic/wool) – 2
    • Long pants – 1 pair of fleece or warm comfortable pants. 2 lighter pairs made of a quick drying, synthetic fabric. Athletic style pants (running or yoga) are generally appropriate. Jeans are NOT recommended for paddling.
    • Lightweight long underwear – 2 pairs, helps to keep you warm at night or as a base layer during the day. We recommend one set for kayaking and one set which is reserved for sleeping and always stays dry.
    • Sweaters – 2 warm wool or fleece sweaters (one may be all you need, but it is nice to have a spare in case one gets wet).
    • T-shirts – 2 or 3.
    • Shorts – 1-2 quick dry nylon
    • Warm socks – 3 to 5 pair (1 warmer pair for around camp)
    • Undergarments
    • An extra set of clothes that you may want to reserve for the end of the trip.


    Book Now

    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 highly recommend purchasing travel insurance known as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR). Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy for Canadians travelling within Canada can be purchased from Manulife Canada within 72 hours paying for any portion of your tour by calling 1-888-220-5212 and giving the Spirit of the West agent code of WESTADV and asking for the Manulife Premium Protection Plan. Click here for more details on travel insurance.

    If you are booking from outside of Canada, please ensure you check and keep up to date on entry requirements when planning and booking your trip. The ArriveCAN app provides travel information on current entry and exit requirements for Canada. 

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