Story Ideas

Cruise through BC to discover whales, bears and lands lost in time.

The BC Ferries Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour reveals the province’s wild delights via sea and land.

14 August 2013

Suggested tweet: Discover whales, bears and immortal landscapes via 9-day @BCFerries tour @TourismBC #explorecanada

On BC Ferries Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour, an epic eight-night journey to the remote wilds of British Columbia, the adventurous keep their cameras poised the moment they set sail. From the spray of ocean air on your face, to the sea lion frolicking in the waves, the experience is part journey, part escape.

Your first leg is a short cruise from Vancouver to Vancouver Island. Expect endless stretches of rippling sand and pretty boats as you drive through the oceanside gems of Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Stop for a gourmet snack at Coombs Store, where goats chew up time (and grass) on the roof. Continue to Campbell River, where five species of Pacific salmon keep anglers guessing. Unwind at your hotel, dine on fresh seafood and stroll the docks. 

Keep a look out for berry-loving black bears, plus elk and orca (killer) whales as you roll into the fishing community of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island’s northern coast, home to magnificently rugged coastal views and world-class scuba diving.

All aboard! The Northern Expedition is your modern floating home for the early morning sail to Prince Rupert. Scope out a comfy lounge chair as you cruise northward, heading past rugged Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, sometimes called the Galapagos of the North) and through the world-famous Inside Passage. The fjords and eternal forests are mystical and the landscape untouched by urban noise.

Make friends on deck during a summer barbecue and shout out when you spot orca whales and dolphins in the channel. Bald eagles often circle overhead. Look for First Nations villages tucked into several bays. You’ll dock just 65 km (40 mi) shy of the Alaska Panhandle.

BC Ferries sails from Prince Rupert to Graham Island, part of mythic Haida Gwaii. Or, plan a trip to Khutzeymateen, Canada’s first grizzly bear sanctuary. Tour North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site, the oldest surviving salmon cannery on the west coast. Rent a kayak to paddle hidden shores, fish for crabs and prawns, or go whale watching.

Heading east, follow the mighty Skeena River on Hwy 16 through Terrace, and the First Nations communities of Kitwanga and Hazelton. Kitwanga is famous for some 50 authentic totem poles. Tour the ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum in Hazelton, to view seven decorated tribal houses.

From Smithers to picturesque Prince George, the Hudson Bay Mountains open onto the golden Cariboo region. Explore historic Barkerville and re-live the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862. Head south to shop and jaw drop at luxurious Whistler before finally returning to Vancouver.

It may be a circle tour, but expect to come back forever changed.

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