Province/Territory: British Columbia

Enter the lair of the Spirit Bears

  • 10,000-year-old aboriginal villages
  • 10% of black bears are so-called Spirit Bears
  • 400 pound grizzlies

Explore the central coast region of British Columbia’s scenic and intricate shoreline by sailboat and discover ancient native villages, primeval forests, and amazing coastal wildlife with like-minded travellers. Climb aboard the 68-foot ketch and begin a nature cruise that will take you to remote areas of the famous Inside Passage, where you’ll spot humpback whales breaching. Then head for shore to walk in the ancient rainforest. Visit ancient Haida villages and big houses led by native interpretive guides. Weave through intricate waterways beneath towering rock bluffs and waterfalls. Relax in a natural hot spring. And get up close and personal with black bears and grizzlies that call this area home, drawn to feast on salmon moving upriver to spawn. Maybe even spot the elusive Kermode or white spirit bear, known for its rare white or cream coloured coat.

Why you should visit
  • Experience the majesty of the world's largest temperate rainforest.
  • Enter an epic wilderness alive with eagles, ravens, salmon, bears and wolves.
  • Visit 10,000-year-old aboriginal villages with still vibrant traditional cultures.
  • Spend a day with local Gitga’at guides who share their culture and history as they guide you to their favourite bear viewing sites.
  • See spectacular humpback behaviours such as breaching and a cooperative feeding technique calle ‘bubble-net feeding’.
  • Walk in the rainforest with the naturalist and see why people have described it as a "living cathedral".
  • Experience close encounters with migrating whales, sea lions, otters and other magnificent marine mammals.
  • Witness ethereal sea wolves stalking their prey long the shoreline at dusk.
  • Explore emerald forests of western hemlock and red cedar cloak lush river valleys and broad estuaries.
  • Take an exhilarating dive off the ship's bow into the sparkling waters of the legendary Inside Passage.
  • Seize on a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the mystical Kermode - the elusive spirit bear.
  • Contemplate thousand-year-old pictographs.
  • Relax by the water’s edge in a natural hot spring.
  • See grizzly bears feasting on thousands of spawning salmon.

Weather

Visitor information
When to go
  • Week-long Great Bear Rainforest tours by sea run from June 1st to September 30th. Grizzlies, whales, sea wolves, bald eagles, deer and many other forms of wildlife are viewable throughout the season. The best time for a chance to spot the elusive Spirit Bears is late August through the end of September, when they come down to the rivers to fish for spawning salmon.
Need to know
  • It’s called a “rainforest” for a reason. Make sure to bring gum boots and waterproof raingear strong enough to stand up to wear and wind.
  • The Kermode or white spirit bear is so rare because only cubs that inherit the same recessive gene from both of its black bear parents will develop the white or cream coloured coat.
  • Princess Royal Island is one of the few areas on the coast where one can find the Kermode.
  • You need a certain amount of strength and agility to climb in and out of small boats, and walk over uneven terrain.
  • If you are prone to motion sickness it is a good idea to bring sea sickness medication.
  • The vessel offers hot showers and private staterooms, one with a “head” ensuite (nautical-ese for “toilet”).
Getting Here