North Island First Nations Cultures and Adventures

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This itinerary introduces you to the spectacular coastlines and rainforests of northern Vancouver Island, traditional Kwakwaka’wakw culture, whales and other marine wonders, grizzly bears and eagles. Experience the culture of the Kwak’wala speaking peoples and learn from their connection to the land that they have occupied and used since the beginning of time.

Day 1 - Arrival in Port Hardy; Drive to Port McNeill

Upon arrival in Port Hardy, pick-up your car and travel south to Port McNeill, in the land of the Kwakiutl people. Listen to the waves break on the northern shoreline from your home for the next three nights: a comfortable cottage near the ocean’s edge at the Cluxewe Resort. Awaken to the haunting sound of loons or the screech of a bald eagle and enjoy vivid summer sunsets over Broughton Strait.

Cluxewe Resort

Your cabin comes equipped with full kitchen facilities, bathroom with shower, bedding and towels, propane barbecues and satellite television. Cook your own catch, or eat the Cluxewe Cafe.

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Day 2 - Exploring Alert Bay

This morning you will travel by ferry from Port McNeill to the welcoming village of Alert Bay on the small and hilly island known as Cormorant Island, inhabited mainly by the people of ‘Namgis First Nation. Visit the U’mista Cultural Centre and learn about the potlatch system, as well as traditional and spiritual practices from Kwakwaka’wakw guides. See and hear how the living Kwakwaka’wakw generation is reconnecting to the ways of their ancestors.

While in Alert Bay, visit the Indigenous owned and operated Culture Shock Interactive Gallery  for one-of-a-kind Indigenous art, jewellery, woven cedar pieces, and articles of contemporary design.

Alert Bay

Day 3 - Grizzly Bear Viewing

From Port McNeill, embark on a full day excursion by boat into the beautiful territory of the Musg̱a̱makw Dzawada̱’enux̱w with Sea Wolf Adventures. Eagles soar overhead, and wolves roam the shell-strewn beaches where ancient villages were once occupied by the Musg̱a̱makw Dzawada̱’enux̱w. Enjoy a continental breakfast as the boat navigates waters favoured by migrating orcas, and listen to your guide’s Indigenous interpretation of local landscapes.

Your adventure continues to wherever the best bear viewing opportunities are. In June and July, it’s best to stay on the boat and view grizzly bears foraging on the shore as you explore the beautiful coastline that the Kwakwak’awakw have always known. In August through October, guests can respectfully and quietly wait at a safe distance with experienced guides for the grizzly bears who fish salmon in the river.

After lunch, your Indigenous guides chart past old village sites, shell middens, and culturally modified trees in the Broughton Archipelago. Listen to stories about the historical and cultural significance of Indigenous use and occupation of the area. This genuinely unforgettable wildlife experience ends in the Broughton Archipelago and Queen Charlotte Strait, where you might encounter migrating humpback whales, the gentle giants of the Pacific.

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Sea Wolf Adventures
Kwa’lilas Hotel

Day 4 - Port McNeill to Port Hardy

Take a leisurely drive to the northern tip of Vancouver Island and stay at the gorgeous Kwa’lilas Hotel, the region’s premier Indigenous destination resort. Experience the tranquility, simplicity, and natural beauty of the Kwa’lilas Hotel and celebrate the commitment the Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw Nation has for its history, culture, and traditional territory.

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Day 5 - Exploring Port Hardy and Cultural Adventures

Experience a traditional drum-making or cedar-weaving workshop while learning about the heritage, songs, and stories of the Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw people. Or, witness a truly magnificent natural marvel: the Nakwakto Rapids are the fastest navigable tidal rapids on Earth, reaching an average speed of 14 knots and peaking at 17 knots! The untouched wilderness and coast will leave you amazed as you learn about Gwa’sala Nakwaxda’xw history on these waters and the deep-seated knowledge of their ancestors. Wildlife such as eagles, bears, wolves, whales, porpoises, and otters frequent this region and the tour will include a stop at the local stellar sea lion colony. These cultural experiences and adventures are provided by k’awat’si Tours.

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K'awat'si Tours

Day 6 - Depart Port Hardy