Top 10 Aboriginal Water Adventures
Living near the bountiful ocean on the West Coast and surrounded by a vast network of rivers and lakes teeming with fish, the Aboriginal people of British Columbia have always relied upon the water both for food and for travel.
Today, BC’s First Peoples are still very much connected to that element, but in addition to sustenance and travel, water now provides them with an opportunity to share their centuries-old culture with visitors through a variety of fascinating and fun outdoor adventure tours.
Here is our list of the Top 10 Aboriginal Water Adventures you can find throughout the province:
1) Sea Wolf Adventures – Telegraph Cove
Located on Vancouver Island, Sea Wolf Adventures offers tours of the local First Nations culture as well as wildlife viewing tours. Their Kwakwaka‘wakw Historical Tour takes you on a journey to learn about the traditions and history of Kwakwaka’wakw people, while the Yukusam Island tour brings you to see “cedar gardens” thousands of culturally shaped trees standing as living archaeological artifacts. During these excursions, guests will get to experience the local wildlife, including bears, whales, eagles, and sea lions.
2) Cariboo Chilcotin Jetboat Adventures, Williams Lake
This fascinating adventure company offers scenic river tours on the mighty Fraser River, featuring picturesque scenery, wildlife viewing, and Aboriginal cultural experiences. Guests will learn about the early explorers, the gold rush, and the natural history of the area. Highlights of some tours include traditional dip netting for wild salmon, salmon BBQ, viewing ancient petroglyphs and ancient village sites, hiking, gold-panning, identifying food and medicinal plants, and running the rapids surrounded by towering rock-wall canyons.
3) Haida Style Expeditions, Haida Gwaii
This Haida-owned and operated cultural ecotourism company offers an authentic Haida experience built on the foundation of cultural values. They offer unique fishing experiences featuring the best salmon and halibut angling Haida Gwaii has to offer, plus Cultural Boat Tours on a 30ft Titan Inflatable to visit ancient Haida villages and to explore the natural beauty of the islands ecology and ancient old growth forests. You’ll also get to experience a traditional lunch, snap a few pics of local wildlife, and hear Aboriginal stories, myths, and legends.
4) Sidney Whale Watching, Sidney
Located minutes from the Gulf Islands National Park in the Salish Sea, Sidney Whale Watching offers whale watching tours and private charters out of Sidney as well as kayak rentals, lessons, and tours. In addition to the three local families of resident Orca whales located in the area, guests will get to see a wide variety of marine wildlife while on these tours, including dolphins, porpoise, sea lions, seals, river otters, and a range of sea birds.
5) Aboriginal Journeys Wildlife Viewing & Adventure Tours, Campbell River
This family-owned wildlife viewing and adventure tour company offers awe-inspiring grizzly bear watching, orca killer whale watching, marine wildlife viewing and adventure tours. The company’s guides have a minimum of 35 years experience working and travelling within the coastal waters of BC and bring guests out to explore Discovery Islands and the Johnstone Strait in search of magnificent orcas. You’re also just as likely to see bald eagles, humpback whales, black bears, seals, porpoises, and pacific white sided dolphins on your excursion.
6) Takaya Tours, North Vancouver
Takaya Tours is a premier, cultural tourism business owned by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation of North Vancouver and Tun-tay-wheutan in Belcarra Regional Park, Port Moody, offering cultural guided canoe or sea kayak tours of Indian Arm, plus a Rainforest Walking Tour in the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Guests can experience riding in replicas of traditional ocean-going canoes, gentle guided sea kayak excursions, or relax on certified Transport Canada vessels that can accommodate up to 40 people, all while being treated to First Nations songs, drumming, legends, and stories as told by Coast Salish guides.
7) T’ashii Paddle School, Tofino
Offering cultural canoe tours in the Tofino (Tla-o-qui-aht territory) area, T’ashii Paddle School lets guests paddle an authentic handcrafted dugout canoe with a Nuu-chah-nulth guide to learn about Aboriginal culture, hear traditional stories, and explore 1,000-year-old red cedar trees in a stunning old-growth rainforest. T’ashii also offers first-class stand up paddle board tours and instruction in a unique marine environment, including a two-hour instructional stand up paddle board tour in a previously inaccessible area of Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park.
8) West Coast Expeditions, Kyuquot
West Coast Expeditions on Vancouver Island offers unique Aboriginal-themed kayaking excursions. Tours range from their four to seven-day Base Camp Kayaking Experiences that introduce you to the spectacular coastal home of the curious sea otter and the Ka:‘yu:‘k’t’h’ (Kyuquot) First Nations people, to their seven to nine-day Expedition-style Kayaking Tours to numerous beaches and islands, and fascinating Aboriginal cultural sites of the Che:k:tles7eet’h’ (Checleset) First Nations’ people.
9) Haida Fishing Charters, Skidegate
Haida Fishing Charters takes guests on a unique cultural fishing experience on the beautiful west coast of Haida Gwaii. Tours are not just fishing adventures, though, but also feature glimpses of some amazing wildlife, some native only to these islands, including black bears, river otters, bald eagles, numerous varieties of sea bird, plus grey, humpback or killer whales.
10) I’Hos Cultural Tours, Lund
I’Hos Cultural Tours offers paddle or boat tours through traditional territories in the Strait of Georgia. With a certified Tla’amin guide by your side, share Aboriginal history and culture while discovering ancient pictographs, 5,000-year-old village sites, and the stories of the Tla’amin people and their cultural practices. Or, paddle through the traditional territory of the Tla’amin people aboard the Cheech Lem Chi Chia, a 35-foot Salish-style canoe listening to the songs and stories of the Salish people.