Named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 20 must-see places in the world for 2015, the remote Haida Gwaii region is one of the most unique and spectacular destinations in Canada. Home to the Haida First Nations people, the area includes over 150 islands and more biomass per square yard than anywhere else on the planet.

The tropical wilderness, bountiful wildlife, and rich history of Haida Gwaii make for a truly unforgettable experience — and the best part is, there is something for every type of traveler. Want to immerse yourself in Haida culture, and learn the region’s history? How about a restorative spiritual retreat? Or would you rather go off-grid and backpack through the wilderness? Or take part in some of the best sport fishing in the world? It’s all there.

Whatever brings you to Haida Gwaii, you certainly will leave wanting more. So to help you get the most out of your trip, here is a quick guide to help you find the right Haida Gwaii experience for you.

Quick facts

  • Half of the population of Haida Gwaii are Haida First Nations.
  • “Haida Gwaii” means “islands of the people” or “islands of the Haida” in the local language
  • Established in 2010, the Gwaii Haanas National Park is the first area in the world to be protected from mountain top to sea floo

5 must-sees

Gwaii Haanas National Park

A trip to Haida Gwaii would not be complete without a visit to its spiritual centre, the Gwaii Haanas National Park. Visitors travel the area to experience the remote rainforest, surrounded by thousand-year-old trees and wildlife abound. You can’t help but immerse yourself in the colourful history of the Haida First Nations people, as you discover ancient carved totem poles and fallen longhouses. Head to the seashore and you might see a black bear catching salmon, whales breaching in the distance ,and other wildlife species that are exclusive to region.

Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay

It’s impossible to truly appreciate Haida Gwaii without understanding the living culture of the Haida First Nations people, and the rich heritage of their relationship with the land and sea. You’ll want to dedicate a good chunk of time to get through all 50,000 square feet of the Haida Heritage Centre, from the breathtaking hand carved totem poles in the Carving House, to the fascinating Canoe House and the stunning Haida Gwaii Museum. To purchase original, authentic Haida artwork, make sure to stop by the Gift Shop before you leave.

Naikoon Provincial Park

If you are looking to experience some of the most stunning wilderness and ocean landscapes in British Columbia, you’d be hard pressed to find somewhere more perfect than this. The 726 square kilometers of Naikoon Provincial Park boast a diverse array of geographic wonders, from lush coastal rainforest, to a vast shoreline and unique wildlife. Some of Haida Gwaii’s most popular attractions lay within its boundaries, including unmatched ocean views from atop Tow Hill, blowholes that shoot 7 metres high along Blow Hole Boardwalk, beachcombing on North Beach, and the popular 10-kilometre trek to Pesuta Shipwreck.

Whale Watching

Sitting in the northernmost coast of British Columbia, Haida Gwaii is often referred to as “the Galapagos of the North” — home to more than 200 bird species, half of British Columbia’s sea lion population, and the most diverse marine wildlife in Canada. For both a relaxing and exhilarating experience, book a whale watching tour during your stay. Orcas frequent the area year-round, humpback whales arrive in February staying until the fall, gray whales visit from March to June, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a blue or fin whale off the west coast. Feeling adventurous? Book a kayak tour instead!

Hotspring Island

Hot water is once again flowing in the sacred hot springs of Gwaii Haanas, 3 years after a 7.8 earthquake struck and mysteriously emptied the pools. It’s too soon to say if they will return to their former glory, but with a little luck, your next trip to the Haida Gwaii could include these soothing pools. Historically used by the Haida people for their healing properties, there are over a dozen warm pools where visitors can enter and experience this natural wonder. Access to the site is by permit only, and we recommend booking as a part of your Gwaii Haanas tour.

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