Province/Territory:

Grizzlies & Culture in the Great Bear Rainforest

  • 12 hours immersed in nature
  • 300-kilogram grizzly bears
  • 15,000 years of Aboriginal heritage

The misty islands of the Great Bear Rainforest await; a place where rich First Nations culture intertwines with awe-inspiring wildlife. Join a guide from the local Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw people and journey by boat into traditional territories occupied for 15,000 years. Pacific white-sided dolphins frolic in the watercraft’s wake. Ahead, grizzly bears rummage on beaches, searching for sedges as they flip shoreline rocks. Venture ashore to travel along the Xakwikan River and view these 300-kilogram bruins as they feast on spawning sockeye. Beyond, the oldest ceremonial Big House in Canada stands proudly on Gilford Island; a vital cultural marker still in active use today. Orcas and humpback whales breach the waters of Queen Charlotte Strait as the tour draws to a close; a day devoted to uncovering the powerful bond between British Columbia’s natural realm and the culture of the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nations.
Join Sea Wolf Adventures’ Grizzly Bears of the Wild and connect profoundly with B.C.’s coastal traditions—merging Aboriginal heritage and vibrant ecosystems in a unique, immersive day-tour.
 

Why you should visit
  • Join a small-group tour—led by a ceremonial potlatch leader from the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw nation—on a 10- to 12-hour boat excursion that blends Aboriginal culture and wildlife encounters.
  • Start with a healthy continental breakfast as you depart northern Vancouver Island; spot bald eagles overhead and Pacific white-side dolphins jumping in the boat’s wake.
  • Learn the connection between regional grizzly bears and Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw heritage as you cruise the scenic shorelines of the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • In the early season, view grizzly bears rummaging for sedges in estuaries; marvel at their power as they flip hefty beach-stones in search of forage.
  • As summer progresses, respectfully follow the bears to the Xakwikan River, enjoying a gentle island hike to spot grizzlies as they feast on spawning salmon—at times just 15 metres away.
  • Savour a hearty lunch—including sockeye salmon pate—with the option of a salmon barbecue at a sacred site.
  • View the oldest Big House in Canada—Gwayasdams—perched impressively on Gilford Island since 1887; listen to stories that date back thousands of years to an ancient potlatch language, the traditional means of passing knowledge through generations.
  • Engage freely with your passionate guide throughout the day—discover how Aboriginal art unveils eons-old tales, learn about local residential schools, hear an ancient origin story and more.
  • Stand in awe of orcas and humpback whales as they breach nearby on your return journey; treasure your experience with a complimentary collection of digital images taken throughout the day.
     

Weather

Expect mild, variable weather with occasional precipitation throughout the operating season, with the coolest weather in June, September and October. Average daytime temperatures are approximately 16°C (June), 18°C (July), 18°C (August), 16°C (September) and 12°C (October).
Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada’s Canadian Climate Normals Website.

Visitor information
  • Reserve Sea Wolf Adventures: Grizzly Bears of the Wild directly through the operator.
  • Grizzly Bears of the Wild operates daily from June 1 to October 20; custom tours are available; contact operator for available dates and prices.
  • The tour is led by one local guide, with a maximum group size of six and a minimum group size of two.
  • The tour includes boat transportation, two meals, snacks/beverages, use of binoculars, cultural sustainability fee and a USB drive of images from the day.
  • Lodging, restaurants, attractions and services are available in Port McNeill and nearby Port Hardy.
     
When to go
  • In June and early-July, guests view grizzly bears from a boat while the animals feed along shorelines throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.
  • From late-July onward, guests disembark the boat and travel to land-based viewing areas to see the bears feed on spawning salmon.
  • Humpback whales and dolphins are usually present throughout the operating season; orcas usually arrive in July through October.
Need to know
  • Guests should dress in layers, with waterproof apparel and hiking boots; total tour duration is 10 to 12 hours.
  • The eight-metre-long vessel, Sea Wolf, is equipped with a heated cabin and toilet facilities; Wi-Fi access/cellphone coverage is available for a portion of the trip.
  • Grizzly viewing may require a smaller inflatable boat (Zodiac), launched from the main vessel; your guide will tailor the tour to conditions and guest input.
  • From late-July onward, guests may be required to walk over variable terrain for short distances to view the grizzly bears.
  • For an additional fee, guests may request a sockeye salmon barbecue lunch.
Getting Here
  • Sea Wolf Adventures: Grizzly Bears of the Wild starts and finishes in Port McNeill, on Vancouver Island; pickup from Alert Bay available upon request.
  • Port McNeill is five hours north of Victoria via Highway 19; Victoria is accessed by air via Victoria International Airport (YYJ); or fly into Port Hardy Airport and drive 30 minutes south to Port McNeill on Highway 19.
  • Vehicle rentals are available at all airports and major towns/cities.
  • Bus transportation to Port McNeill is available from all cities/towns and regional airports.