Kayaking Tour

Sea Kayaking & Whale Watching in British Columbia | CA-EC701

Spy orcas from your sea kayak in Johnstone Strait on Vancouver Island

Overview

Paddle with the orcas at a comfort tent base camp on one of these kayaking excursions in Johnstone Strait. This camp is situated in the heart of orca viewing territory along one of their most frequently transited routes. Without the need to move camp you can maximize your time on the water and then settle into the comforts of the well appointed base for an evening around the campfire.

Tour Highlights

  • Kayaking around Johnson Strait
  • Orca-watching
  • Dinners over a campfire
  • Southern Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Salmon, seabirds, bald eagles, bears & seals
  • Vancouver Island

Launch off our beach on North Vancouver Island to kayak with whales. Untamed, inspiring, remote and magical, Warden Beach on the Johnstone Strait is home to Orca Camp for over 40 years and is your staging ground for adventures both wild and mild.

The very heart of Orca territory, our base camp is adjacent to the world’s only designated Killer Whale habitat at Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve. A blue crescent lapping at the skirt of its raw, rocky shores, you’ll find pure Canadian wilderness here. Remote, yet accessible, it’s a one-hour cruise from Pt. McNeill through the Johnstone Strait, one of the best places for whale watching on Vancouver Island.

 

  • Personal Experience
  • Trusted Tour Operator
  • Local Guides
  • Small group
Availability Jul - Sept
Duration 3 or 4 days
Departs From Port McNeill, BC
Group maximum 10
Minimum age 8
Difficulty Easy
Meet on Location No
Pick Up Yes

From

1 190 CAD

Per Adult

  • Best Price Guarantee
  • Toll Free number in N. America: +1 888 285 1676
  • International number: +1 780 414 1676

Availability (2020): July - September.
3 day tour is $1190 CAD:
Depart Fridays from July 10-September 4.
4 day tour is $1490 CAD:
Departs Sundays from July 12-September 6.

What's Included

Find out what is included and what to bring.

Included

  • Services of a fully qualified guide and assistant guide are included on every trip
  • Boat transportation from Port McNeill to the base camp
  • Accommodations in tents at a private base camp with main kitchen tent
  • Group camping equipment
  • All meals while at the camp are included
  • Kayaks

Suggested Clothing

  • Rain gear
  • Warm fleece or wool underclothes
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Hiking boots
  • Water shoes
  • Bathing suit
  • Clothing and equipment list available

What to bring

  • Sleeping bag (required)
  • Flashlight (required)
  • Daypack (required)
  • Camera
  • Pocketknife
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle

Contact us for more Information about this tour

TOLL FREE NUMBER IN N. AMERICA: +1 888 285 1676
INTERNATIONAL NUMBER: +1 780 414 1676

You can also send an email to info@adventures.com, or use the contact form here below.

Itinerary

Find out more details about the tour and its highlights

Information

British Columbia ’s coastal waters are home to a total of about 300 resident orcas, commonly known as killer whales. During the summer, the majority of the northern pods, approximately 200 animals, congregate in the Southern Queen Charlotte Sound and Johnstone Strait areas of Vancouver Island.

Days that are measured in wildlife sightings and the number of Orca shots on your camera begin and end at base camp. Off the grid, unplugged, disconnected from urban living, this is where you’ll reconnect with the natural world…and with each other.

We offer 3 or 4 day tours in July through September.

An extremely rich marine environment, Johnstone Strait supports salmon, seabirds, bald eagles, bears, and seals. These sea kayaking programs operate in the Strait during the best time to view the orcas, from June through September. Paddling in this area is always a pleasure and to view orcas from this quiet perspective is a rare and intimate wilderness experience.  It is a spectacular setting of islands and steep fjords and its temperate climate results in forests of giant old growth trees. Rich in cultural history, this region has been occupied by the Northern Kwagiutl people for perhaps several thousand years.

British Columbia ’s coastal waters are home to a total of about 300 resident orcas, commonly known as killer whales. During the summer, the majority of the northern pods, approximately 200 animals, congregate in the Southern Queen Charlotte Sound and Johnstone Strait areas of Vancouver Island. You will be enchanted by their spectacular displays when breaching, tail lobbing, finning and spy hopping in the open waters. Orcas are highly developed socially and each pod has it's own distinctive language. You will observe whales at the surface and use a hydrophone (underwater microphone) to listen to their submarine communication while quietly floating in our sea kayaks. There is something mystical about that which cannot be described.

Our base camp is located on a rugged shore against the backdrop of an old-growth rainforest of cedar and fir. Sleeping tents are tucked into private nooks, scattered throughout the forest, overlooking the beach and the bay beyond. Find tranquility in your tent, listening to songbirds greet the morning. Drink in the mossy scent of the forest, restoring your energy after a day kayaking with whales. Fall asleep to the plunk, plunk, plunk sound of jumping salmon. Enjoy the deep kind of restful sleep you can only have in total darkness, beneath the canopy of the forest. Each tent is built on a stable wooden platform, waterproofed, and cushioned with tent pads. Single guests enjoy the spaciousness of a two-person tent, while couples can spread out in a tent for four people. Sleeping at the shoreline often means chilly nights, but you won’t notice that from inside the cozy sleeping bags we provide.

Day Before: 

Journey by air, or car and ferry ride, to the fishing village of Port McNeill, on north Vancouver Island where our kayaking with whales trips all begin. If you arrive in time, take part in the pre-trip briefing at the Haida Way Motor Inn. The front desk attendant will direct you to the briefing where you’ll have the chance to have any last minute questions answered and meet your fellow Orca Campers. If your travel plans have you arriving later in the evening, pick-up your welcome letter with your last minute instructions and then, settle in for the night – the adventure gets underway the next day!

Day One – Journey to Orca Camp

This is the day you’ve been waiting for – Your first opportunity to sight Orcas in their natural wild habitat will take place aboard the water-taxi bound for Warden Beach, home to Orca Camp and your staging ground for adventure. It's a one-hour boat ride past the sparsely populated shores of northern Vancouver Island — eventually all signs of civilization fade away and wildlife sightings abound: sea lions sunning themselves on rocky outcrops, eagles fishing for salmon, Pacific White-sided dolphins dancing on the ocean's surface, Humpback and Killer Whales — they all call this place home.

Our guides are quick to welcome you to camp, helping you become oriented to life in the wild. Learn all about bear-proofing your gear, selecting your tent, and where the outhouse is located. Join the rest of the group gathering at the beach where talk of the first paddling session gets underway. Learn to enter and exit your kayak, the "right" way to paddle and steer and before you know it you're off! The remainder of the day is spent exploring the near shores, keeping a watchful eye out for whales. When you return to camp, tuck into a hearty dinner, prepared surfside and if weather and whales permit, explore the coastline by kayak after dinner, flexing your muscles in preparation for tomorrow’s adventures.

Days that are measured in wildlife sightings and the number of Orca shots on your camera begin and end at base camp. Off the grid, unplugged, disconnected from urban living, this is where you’ll reconnect with the natural world…and with each other. Fuel up with a hearty breakfast, spend your day kayaking and exploring the Johnstone Strait, and your night reliving your adventures around the campfire at Orca Camp.

Spend your day paddling the Johnstone Strait, delighting in the encounters you’re sure to have along the way. Porpoises, sea-lions, jumping salmon, and eagles fishing from the shore.

Relax on the Warden Beach - Best Beach for Whale Watching

If you’ve signed-up for the two night/three day excursion, this will be your last opportunity to experience kayaking with Orcas, until you come again. Make the most of your morning before the water-taxi returns you to Pt. McNeill.

If you’ve stayed on for a longer excursion, 4 or 6 days, return to Orca Camp and enjoy dinner under the stars.

Day four presents another opportunity to explore the Johnstone Strait. Weather and whales will dictate the order of the day, where you paddle, and what you’ll see. One thing is certain, simple moments paddling the Strait will turn into memories that will last a lifetime.

Guests on the 4-day expedition bid farewell to their newfound friends, and return by water-taxi to Pt. McNeill. Everyone else will return to camp to continue the adventure.

Guide information:

Services of a fully qualified guide and assistant guide are included on every trip.

Transportation:

Trips originate and end from the town of Port McNeill, located on the north end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Port McNeill is accessible by car, bus or plane (Port Hardy) from Vancouver.

Meals & Dining:

All meals while at the camp are included.  Meals are wholesome offering a variety of BBQs, salads and 'catch of the day'.

Weather:

Summer temperatures will average 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.  Evenings can be cool with temperatures near 10 degrees Celsius.   Extended periods of rain are unusual but possible and mornings can be foggy.

$50 per person land user fee applies to all trips.

Accommodations are at a private permanent base camp located on a remote island in Johnstone Strait.  Sleeping arrangements are in the two-person tent at the camp.  There is a main kitchen tent and eating area.

The base camp concept allows for a maximum of time available for the daily activities and offers a suitable level of comfort in a remarkable wilderness setting. It makes this the ideal program for the experienced paddler as well as beginners and families alike - no previous experience is necessary. The base camp, set up amidst an old-growth forest with trees hundreds of years old has a crystal clear stream running right through it. Curled into a pristine half moon shaped bay it is not only beautiful but also provides some of the best whale watching opportunities anywhere, right from shore.

FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Still got questions about the tour? Hopefully you will find the answer here.

No, many novices join this trip. Our kayaks are very seaworthy and easy to handle. Our guides primary role is to keep you safe and comfortable, both on and off the water. Your guides will teach participants all the required skills through an "orientation to safe sea kayaking" on your first day and as required throughout your trip. You can expect your technique will refine over the course of the trip (with tips from your guides) while you begin to feel like a seasoned paddler.

While we cannot guarantee orca whale sightings, your guides will focus on maximizing your opportunities for experiencing orcas within the scope of this itinerary. Orca whales are wild animals and as such their travel routes and environment are unpredictable.

While our fleet consists mainly of tandem kayaks, we do have a limited number of single kayaks available. Please do confirm their availability with our office.

Absolutely, we want you to! This can be such a bonding experience! We are happy to accommodate children as young as 8 years old at Orca Camp. The base camp concept and our flexible itinerary allow for parents/caregivers to stay back in camp should the need arise. We usually try to team families up with other families to the same departures.

Long paddles are uncommon, but we may extend our reach to increase the chances of good orca sightings. On full field days, time on the water can typically be 4-6 hours per day with plenty of time to relax, watch the orcas or other marine life, take scenic pictures, stretch your legs and have lunch.

Our maximum group size is 10 participants, however, in rare cases we will accommodate up to 11 guests in camp. Depending on group size, paddlers are accompanied by 1-2 guides.

Weather conditions can be variable ranging from daytime temperatures of  21ºC - 24ºC (70ºF - 75ºF). Evenings are cool with temperatures near 10ºC  (55ºF). Extended periods of rain are unusual, but possible, and mornings may be foggy.

The average group consists of two couples, a couple of friends and four single travelers with an even ratio of male to female. We do not charge a single supplement unless you specifically request single tent-accommodation (limited single tents available, please contact our office to confirm).

Our guides are singularly the most import resource an adventure travel company has! Because we operate our own trips we can assure you first hand that your guides will be among the best to be found anywhere. In addition to being experienced outdoor leaders specializing in various modes of travel, our guides have taken numerous courses such as: the A.C.S.K.G. sea kayaking leadership/assistant course (or equivalent), advanced wilderness first aid and C.P.R. All are experts at interpreting cultural and natural history as well as comforting, safe, and fun to share a campfire with!

Payment Details

Deposit and Taxes

  • Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.
  • A 25% deposit is required to hold your reservation.
  • Balance of payment is due 60 days before trip commencement.

CANCELLATION POLICY & DETAILS
West Coast Trail: Cancellation up to 61 days prior is a fee of $500 per person which includes the Park Permit Fee. Cancellation 60-0 days is no refund. Ideally, we would like all guests to have trip cancellation insurance. Kayaking tours: Cancellation up to 61 days prior is a fee of $150 per person which includes the Park Permit Fee. Cancellation 60-0 days is no refund.