Province/Territory: Nunavut

Canada's Arctic Playground

  • 1999 Nunavut became the third of Canada’s territories
  • 01 biggest island in Canada
  • 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq mi) of the Barnes Ice Cap covers central Baffin Island

Baffin Island is a grand wild landscape, the spectacular homeland of Inuit and an accessible Arctic playground for the adventurous. Slip into boots or skis and follow Inuit stone markers called inuksuk on traverses within Sirmilik National Park with Polar Sea Adventures. Paddle or raft the Soper, a Canadian Heritage River within Katannalik Territorial Park. Sleep under a multi-coloured Northern Light-show. Join Adventure Canada to cruise the High Arctic’s epic Northwest Passage. Spot polar bears, white belugas, tusked narwhal and a roll call of seals on an Arctic sledding safari across sea ice off Pond Inlet with Arctic Kingdom. Climb fjords near Clyde River, then visit the world’s first bowhead whale sanctuary nearby.

Watch creativity flow from renowned Inuit carvers and printmakers and take home their art as souvenirs. Then explore Canada’s newest capital, Iqaluit, to savour local and traditional foods, listening to the rhythm of the North in drum dancing and throat singing during festivals lit by the golden glow of the Midnight Sun.

Outdoor adventure

  • Sail across the top of Baffin Island counting whales and learning about Arctic culture throughout the fabled, icy Northwest Passage on a cruise with Adventure Canada.
  • Ski and hike with Polar Sea Adventures in pristine Sirmilik National Park near Pond Inlet spotting snowy owls, narwhal and polar bears.
  • Rock climb Clyde River’s fjord walls or backcountry ski amid the peaks of Auyuittuq National Park where Mount Thor’s sheer face is the world’s highest vertical cliff at 1,250 m (4,100 ft).
  • Watch the multi-coloured Northern Lights dance across the sky as you drift to sleep.

Food & Drink

  • Dine on Northern surf-n-turf - freshly caught Arctic Char and tender medallions of caribou.
  • Eat local, sampling caribou jerky, muskox sausages and nibbles of muktuk (whale skin and blubber).
  • Arctic char are a true Northern treat so grab a rod and try your luck at fishing for your own dinner.

Arts & Culture

  • See travelling exhibits, Inuit art and artifacts, and shop for Inuit art at Iqaluit’s Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum.
  • Watch Inuit carvers, tapestry and print makers at work in Kimmirut, Pangnirtung and Iqaluit. Visit Cape Dorset’s famed Kinngait Co-operative whose artists’ world-class treasures have been gifted to presidents, kings and popes.
  • Daytrip by boat, sled or dog team to the rocky island of Qaummaarviit, a territorial park near Iqaluit rich with historic Thule archaeological artifacts like sod houses.

Nature & Wildlife

  • Travel by snowmobile-drawn Inuit sleds to the edge of the floe ice near Pond Inlet on an Arctic safari to see narwhal, beluga whales and polar bears with Arctic Kingdom.
  • Hop a boat from Igloolik to spot hundreds of walrus lounging on ice chunks in spring and see migrating bowhead whales breaching and smashing breathing holes through spring-melted sea ice.
  • Visit Niginganiq National Wildlife Area at Isabella Bay on the east coast of Baffin Island near Clyde River, the world’s first sanctuary to protect massive Arctic bowhead whales that can reach 60 feet in length.
  • See narwhals and their 10-ft unicorn tusks, once worth more than their weight in gold.

Events & Festivals

  • Celebrate all things winter during Iqaluit’s annual April Toonik Tyme Festival where you can build an igloo, play pond hockey, kite-ski, dog-sled, bite into steaming hot bannock bread and caribou stew, then swallow your shyness and give Inuit throat-singing a try.
  • Under the late June midnight sun, Alianait! is a 10-day (and night!) multi-cultural arts festival featuring film, circus acts, theatre, music and storytelling.
  • Igloolik’s Rockin’ Walrus Festival every July is a rare chance to experience an all-Northern music festival that also includes local Inuit films and performances by ArtCirq, the world-renowned Igloolik-based Arctic circus.

Weather

  • From May through August, Baffin days are long and sunny. In the south, Iqaluit averages 16 hours of daylight with temperatures from 5°C to 25°C; it is cooler on the northern tip of the island. Above the Arctic Circle there is 24 hour daylight throughout late spring and summer.
  • Spring and fall may be chilly in the evening and near the water so be sure to pack jackets, gloves and a hat.
  • The shortest days of December have four hours of daylight in Iqaluit with temperatures of -10°C to -32°: above the Arctic Circle in Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet there is 24 hours of darkness from mid-December to late January.
  • Snow is not uncommon during any month of the year so pack warm clothing accordingly.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada’s Canadian Climate Normals website.
Quick facts

Area: 507,451 square kilometres (195,928 sq mi)
Capital City: Iqaluit
Largest City: Iqaluit
Total Population: 11,000
Official Languages: Inuktitut is the language of the Inuit people, plus English and French.
Territorial Motto: Nunavut Sannginivut in Inuktitut. “Our land, our strength.”

When to go
  • Spring and fall are perfect times to visit if you’re prowling for Inuit art and carvings in Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung, Kimurrut and Iqaluit since many artists spend the summertime out “on the land” in camps.
  • Above the Arctic Circle where there is 24 hour light from May into August, sunlight reflected off the snow and ice in spring can cause severe sunburn, so even though it may feel cold, using sunscreen lotion is advisable.
  • July and August are the brief hiking, kayaking and cruising season when wildflowers – and bugs! – are out. Watch for narwhal, belugas, Bowhead whales, walruses and migratory birds, especially in July.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is a pleasant fall season with the tundra turning autumn red and blueberries ripening. Great time for hiking since there are few bugs.
  • Snow is not uncommon during any month of the year so pack warm clothing accordingly.
  • Though winter is cold and dark, Christmastime in the communities is a warm and welcoming time of year.
Getting Here
  • Baffin Island is located in Canada’s Eastern Arctic and can only be accessed by plane or, in summer, on an Adventure Canada cruise departing from various communities. The main point of entry for flights from Southern Canada is Iqaluit International Airport (YFB).
Getting around

As there are no roads connecting Baffin Island’s communities, it’s necessary to fly. Airlines serving Baffin Island include: