A west coast guide favourite
West Coast Vancouver Island
Expedition travel, some wilderness experience
Also Available for private bubble group Reservations
Click below to find out more about how to make your tour private for the ultimate peace of mind. See all available dates and pricing for private bubble tours. Please feel free to get in touch with our office and we will help find the perfect trip for you!
What makes this tour so special?
If you crave adventure, and a desire to kayak and explore an area that few ever get to, then this west coast sea kayaking expedition is for you. Our expert guides know the area, the currents, winds, and of course the best camping and sunset spots! Together with your small group of 8 guests only, you will see sites and visit places that are outside the realm of the modern world, and accessible to only a select few. The dramatic seascape of the wild northwest coast of Vancouver Island provides the setting for one of the finest sea kayaking destinations in Canada, Nuchatlitz Marine Park. The area is sheltered from the open ocean by small and enchanting islands. This string of islets gives the adventurous kayaker an opportunity to experience the rugged coast while paddling in relatively protected waters.
This remote area is one of the few places where you can escape the crowds. Getting out to the park can be difficult for the solo paddler or independent group as the distance is far from the launch site and headwinds are often encountered deeper in the inlets. To avoid this long and arduous paddle, Spirit of the West Adventures will transport you by water taxi to and from this prime kayaking destination. Once there we will establish our first night’s camp on a secluded beach among old-growth forests. Each day we will explore the numerous islands and beaches, marvel at the natural rock formations like sea caves and towering rock pinnacles, and reflect on the rich west coast First Nations culture.
The Nuchatlitz is home to one of the largest sea otter populations on the west coast of North America. Once hunted to extinction in this area, the sea otter was reintroduced in the late 1960s and now thrives. Their extinction caused considerable upheaval in the natural world, however, with their return the area is returning to ecological health once again.
west coast Sunsets
The sunsets on the West Coast of Vancouver Island are simply stunning. Watch as the sun sinks over the horizon to the west and beautiful colours illuminate the skies. Most of the campsites on the Nuchatlitz tour offer west-facing beaches where you can enjoy these amazing spectacles.
Most sea kayaking areas on the Inside Passage, between Vancouver Island and the mainland, have landing areas that range from rock to pebbles or gravel due to the lack of consistent wave action. Here on the outer coast, we are treated to numerous beaches where you can walk barefoot and really get the sand between your toes.
Our adventure begins from the town of Tahsis on the west coast of Vancouver Island. From here we jump aboard our water taxi and head into the heart of the Nuchatlitz Provincial Marine Park. En route, we take in the mountainous coastal landscape and keep our eyes peeled for wildlife as we pass by historic village sites. In the park, we have six days to explore. Our itinerary is quite flexible and the route will be mostly dictated by wildlife viewing opportunities, tide heights, wind direction/speed, and wave conditions. Our guides will base campsite choices on scenic qualities, availability, and, of course, group preferences.
Sea Stacks & Caves
Stacks are formed when part of a headland is eroded by hydraulic action. The force of the water weakens cracks in the headland and causes them to collapse, forming free-standing stacks and small islands. These formations, along with the numerous sea caves in the area, make for some of the most picturesque and interesting paddling on the coast.
- Professional guiding service
- All kayaking equipment (including kayaks, PFDs, paddles, pumps, ropes and sponges)
- Meals (lunch day 1 to breakfast day 6)
- Cooking equipment
- Camping equipment including tents and Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads
- Water taxi service
- Park and land use permits
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, taxis
- Travel/medical insurance
- Alcoholic or carbonated beverages
- Rain gear
- Sleeping bags or 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; maybe booked online with your trip reservation).
Spirit of the West operates in the unceded traditional territory of the Mamalilikulla-Qwe'Qwa'Sot'Em, 'Namgis, Tlowitsis, Nuu-chah-nulth, We Wai Kai, Homalco, Klahoose and Heiltsuk First Nations.
The Nuchatlitz tour launches from the town of Tahsis on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
VIRTUAL PRE-TOUR MEETING
WHERE & WHEN: VIA YOUR COMPUTER BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
Our team will be in contact with you to set up a Zoom (virtual video) pre-tour meeting. This meeting gives us a chance to answer any questions you may have, for you to meet our team, go over the logistics of the tour, and to discuss what to expect. We plan this for 7 pm, 3 days before your trip starts, but alternate times may be arranged to suit your schedule.
TOUR MEETING LOCATION
Where & WHEN: Tahsis, Municipal dock/public boat launch, 10:30 AM (Day 1)
Our adventure begins from the town of Tahsis on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (An approx. 3-hour drive by car from Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island.) Please arrive 20 minutes early to allow time to unload, carry your luggage down to the launching spot, and arrange parking.
WHERE & WHEN: Tahsis, BY APPROX. 12 PM (DAY 6)
Return time can depend on weather and travel conditions. We try our best to get you back on time for your onward travels or to explore more of what Vancouver Island has to offer.
At 10:30 am you will meet your guides at the Municipal Dock. We will transfer ourselves and equipment aboard our water taxi and a scenic journey by water taxi takes us out to the west coast paradise of the Nuchatlitz Marine Park. En route, we take in the mountainous coastal landscape and keep our eyes peeled for wildlife as we pass by historic village sites. After settling into our new surroundings and lunch we will have a kayak orientation and discuss safety procedures before setting off on an afternoon paddle. We will return in time for a fresh wild fish dinner (alternatives of course for those who do not eat fish). Enjoy the sunset from the beach (or from your tent) before retiring to rest for more fun in the morning.
DAY 2 to 5
After waking up in one of the most beautiful places on earth, to stunning sunrises, we will begin our day with a delicious breakfast before we break camp. On the Nuchatlitz tour, there is no set itinerary. Instead, our route will depend on weather conditions and the group’s desires. Our days will be spent exploring the picturesque islands, lagoons, beaches, and sea caves hidden behind cascading waterfalls. We will also take some time out for beach combing, or simply lounging and taking in the magnificent surroundings. If we are fortunate we will end our day with a famous west coast sunset. Campsites are plentiful and scenically situated on either sand or pebble beaches, grassy knolls or beneath the canopy of ancient rain forests.
This is our last day to enjoy the marine environment of the west coast. After our morning paddle and lunch, our boat transport will take us back to Tahsis. Time for one last deep breath of ocean air, to take in the panoramic scenery and all the natural wonders around us, before our real life catches up with us. This 6-day adventure is the perfect introduction to sea kayaking in a remote and coastal BC environment. To learn new wilderness skills, and the take a break from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life.
FIND OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO PACK FOR FOR THIS TRIP:
Below is a list of commonly asked questions.
If you have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call us.
WHERE CAN I LEARN ABOUT YOUR COVID - 19 SAFETY PLAN?
- learn about safety measures, mitigation plan, and procedures
- see answers to our most frequently asked questions about COVID
- learn how to travel and adventure safely in British Columbia.
To read our Terms and Conditions, please click here.
We also published a Travel Insurance 101 and a guide for Travel Insurance in a World with Covid-19 which will help you answer basic travel insurance questions, such as ‘What is travel insurance?’ and ‘Why do I need it?’
Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any further questions. We are here to assist you every day from 9am onwards.
What is the minimum age required to join our tours?
We cater to all ages of adventurers. Kids age 5 to 12 are encouraged to join the Family Orca Tours which have been designed with the needs of younger kayakers. For most of our other regularly scheduled tours we prefer a minimum age of 12, except for the Great Bear Rainforest trip, which has a minimum age of 14. If your child is almost 12 or your family has a good deal of experience kayaking and camping we do occasionally make exceptions. We like to assess each case individually. We can also organize private, custom style adventures. Feel free to call us and we would be happy to discuss the options.
What is the average age of our guests?
We have guests from age 5 and up on our family tours and ages 12 to 85 joining our regularly scheduled tours. The average age ranges between age 30 to 65. Each tour and tour date is different, but we usually get a good mix of ages. For those concerned with being in ‘their older years’ or anyone unsure of which tour fits them best, we welcome you to contact us and we will be happy to help you find the perfect trip.
Are there any single supplement fees if I am travelling on my own?
There are no single supplements or any other extra fee. We encourage solo travelers to join us and often have several solo travelers on each tour. It should be no problem to have your own tent and you will have access to both single and double kayaks.
Can you accommodate food allergies/special diets?
Our food preparation crew are masters at accommodating dietary restrictions. We are able to offer gluten-free, vegetarian, pescatarian, dairy light and vegan menus with prior notice. Other dietary requests may involve additional charges and need to be discussed in advance with our food crew. We are NOT a nut-free facility.
Will I comfortably fit in the kayaks?
If you are over 6ft (182cms) tall, if you are on the more petite side of things, have larger hips or weigh over 250lbs (115 kg) we have certain kayaks that may work best for you. Please give us a call and we can ensure we have the appropriate kayak available for you.
What is included in the tour costs?
We supply everything that you will need for kayaking and camping except for a few personal items such as your clothing, toiletries, sleeping bag and rain gear (sleeping bags and rain gear can be rented if needed).
We provide all meals from morning snack on day one to lunch on the last day. Non-alcoholic beverages including a wide variety of teas, coffee, juices, hot chocolate are provided. Alcohol is not provided and you are welcome to bring your favourite wine, beer or pop to enjoy responsibly. There are no additional costs once on our tour unless you wish to purchase souvenirs.
What do I need to bring?
Please find a list of items Spirit of the West Adventures will provide for you and our comprehensive packing list of all the things we suggest you bring along here:
Once you book your tour you will receive a detailed guest handbook which also includes the packing list.
How much kayaking experience is required?
Our adventures are designed to cater to all levels of experience and abilities from first-timer to expert paddler. We have several different styles and lengths of tours so that everyone can find the perfect trip.
If you are looking for more rustic camping and more paddling check out our expedition style tours; the Johnstone Strait Expedition, Orca Lite, Nuchatlitz, Desolation Sound or Great Bear Rainforest Tours.
Do I need to be in great shape for this trip?
The majority of our adventures are not considered to be overly strenuous or physically demanding and therefore do not require a high level of fitness. Each tour is slightly different in its demands so if you are concerned, please do contact us. As a general rule, you need to be capable of a few hours of moderate exercise each day and be comfortable with the uneven ground of a wilderness environment. Please keep in mind that good general health will go a long way towards the enjoyment of your tour. Most important though is an adventurous spirit.
How much paddling do we do each day?
Paddling time will vary depending on the trip, our destination, weather conditions and the group’s abilities and desires. Generally, we travel between 4-6 hours a day on our expedition tours, not including breaks and lunch We set a pace which is manageable and enjoyable for all.
How stable are the kayaks? What is the likelihood of flipping over?
The kayaks we use are stable and designed for comfort. Your guides will give you through instruction on how to safely use and enjoy the kayaks and what to do in case of a capsize. For those concerned about capsizing, the double kayaks are slightly more stable than the singles and we have a variety of both singles and doubles on every trip. The likelihood of a capsize is minimal and if it does happen your well-trained guides will be there before you know it to help.
What happens if my kayak flips over?
In the rare event of a capsize, all of our guides are trained in rescue procedures in order to quickly and efficiently get you back in your boat. At this point, we will take you to the nearest shoreline to change into some warm clothing and carry on with our journey when you are ready. While we are out on the water, it is of the utmost importance that the group stays together for safety.
If the weather turns bad? Will I be comfy and warm?
Our weather in the Pacific Northwest is generally pleasant from May through until the end of September. The temperature will vary slightly depending on which area you visit. In the Nuchatlitz area we generally experience mild temperatures. Fog is common in the summer on the outer coast, and may come and go through the day. Although it is uncommon, it can rain in the summer. A good rule of thumb is to be prepared for any type of weather and you will stay comfortable. Layering is the key, and it allows you to put on or take off layers while on the water if you need to. If you are very concerned about the weather then we recommend our base-camping style tours as these campsites have covered eating and lounge areas as well as dry tents to come home to at the end of every day. On our expedition style tours we carry tarps but we are a little more at the mercy of mother nature in these more rustic style campsites.
What sort of wildlife might we see?
The diversity and abundance of wildlife in the Pacific Northwest is one of our great privileges. From the rich marine life of colourful plants and invertebrates, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, mink, otter, seals, sea lions, dolphins, and (if we are lucky) whales, to the land animals of deer, raccoons, cougars, wolves, and bears, we are bound to see something.
For those with an eye for eagles take note that they are most prominent in the earlier months before the salmon migration in the late summer/early fall.
For those keen to see humpback whales- you are in luck. The population of humpbacks in our area is doing well and we are fortunate to often see these whales any time of the year.
If Orcas are your main priority then we recommend traveling between mid-July and mid-September.
Please just remember that wildlife is just that wild and we cannot control sightings. That said the whales are the icing on the cake in this stunning, rich and diverse area.
Where is the best place to see orcas/killer whales?
On our tours to Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound, which includes the Whales and Wilderness Glamping Tour, the Johnstone Strait Ultimate, Family Orca Tours and Orca Lite tours, we stand a high chance of seeing whales, especially between mid-July and mid-September.
Understandably we cannot guarantee what nature will dictate, but we can tell you that this area has one of the highest concentrations of Killer Whales on earth and this is where they spend their summer holiday. Some trips view the whales from the kayaks, some while traveling on our water taxi or from our campsites on the shore and some see all of the above.
How close to we paddle to whales & other wildlife?
We do our very best to provide awesome sightings of whales but all the while ensuring that we do not disrupt the natural behaviour of all the wildlife we encounter. We abide by the Canadian whale watching regulations which means we do not approach killer whales (orcas) any closer than 200 meters (656 ft) and all other cetaceans no closer than 100 meters (328 ft).
To learn more about how we do our best to minimize our impacts on whales check out nimmsa.org the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association. Your trip fees help to fund whale research and conservation efforts through the NIMMSA fund which Spirit of the West Contributes too.
What is the camp setup like?
All of our campsites are in wilderness settings, and shelter is provided by the tents and tarps we carry with us. We seek out sites with beautiful surroundings and those that offer solitude; these are all undeveloped and may be clearings in the forest or space on the beach. There may be times (on occasion) when we are camping next to another group of kayakers. Campsite choice will be based on weather conditions, route choice and group size and preference.
Where do we wash and are there toilets?
There is very little fresh water to be found. Therefore, seawater is your best bet for washing up. Please use biodegradable, environmentally friendly soap brands. Toilet facilities are not common in most wilderness settings, although some areas may have pit toilets. We also carry a portable toilet system. Your guide will generally designate an area that works for ensuring your privacy. We are very accustomed to making sure all of our guests feel comfortable and informed – please feel free to ask us any questions you might have, before or during your tour.
If I would like to tip the guides, what is the industry standard?
If you would like to express your appreciation to the guides through a gratuity, such recognition would be enthusiastically received. The industry standard for tipping is approx. 10% per person of the trip cost. All tips received will be collected and disbursed amongst your guides & basecrew by the trip leader.
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
"We have been on six camping kayaking tours and this rates as one of the best. The scenery and wildlife in the Nuchatlitz area are wonderful."
Lin and Brian Weich
"I had a great time and a wonderful experience. I am 100% satisfied."
"Better than we could have imagined. The scenery was breathtaking, the guides were fun, the food was amazing... a 10."
Beth and Simon Mielniczuk
"This was my second trip with Spirit of the West : Fantastic just as the first one. Hard to improve a very good formula."
"A beautiful area and most wonderful wildlife. (AKA. a humpback whale up live and close)."
"I came back happy and relaxed. Any holiday that can do that is tops........beautiful area, wildlife was superb a real highlight."
"Our guide Jason was excellent as lead guide. Very easy with group but was directive when necessary."
Sally and Gary Allen
"Scott was an excellent guide,
very competent safety conscious
Jacqui and Andrew Hakes
"Over the top! Better food than in most restaurants. Jolie's table decorations were great. Even baked a cake on the last night. WOW!!"
John and Nancy Nixon
"The food was a 10+++ very impressive both in quality and quantity. (Salmon on the first night was awesome!)"
Beth and Simon Mielniczuil
"Lots and Lots and Lots of food! Watching the guides make a chocolate layered cake on the campfire was impressive."
Our online booking system allows you easy access to booking your tour with Spirit of the West Adventures, any time of day. 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!
Cancel For Any Reason insurance is essential to protect your investment in your experience. Policies must be purchased within a limited timeframe after paying for any portion of your trip: within 72 hours for Canadians and within 1-2 weeks for Americans. Please learn more here.
If you are booking from outside of Canada, do not use this booking form. Please contact us by phone or email to place your tentative reservation. Click here for more details.