Province/Territory: British Columbia

Cruising Magical Isles of Nature and Culture

  • 92 foot Maple Leaf schooner
  • 45% of the population is Haida
  • 138 islands protected within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Watch a humpback breach clear out of the ocean as barking pods of baby sea lions playfully churn up the waters. See bald eagles perched by the dozen in massive moss-draped trees and understand why Haida Gwaii is nicknamed the “Canadian Galapagos”. Gaze over the side of your century-old schooner, the Maple Leaf, into the shallows at purple starfish and technicolour anemones as you sail through the archipelago of Gwaii Haanas National Park. From a kayak, glimpse a cluster of worn totem poles tilting precariously along a misty, sheltered bay on SGaang Gwaii island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about rich living Haida culture at a longhouse heritage centre and visit artists creating world class art. After a day’s magical adventure, linger beside a crackling campfire listening for the voices of ancient Aboriginal spirits.

Why you should visit
  • Walk among still-standing 150-year-old totem poles on SGang Gwaay Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Hike through towering Sitka spruce and red-cedar forests carpeted by thick mosses.
  • Freshly smoked salmon; seafood stew made with local oysters.
  • Orca, gray and humpback whales against a rainforest backdrop.
  • Explore the rich nature and culture of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.
  • Watch ravens and bears emerge from a totem pole under construction at Skidegate’s Haida Heritage Centre.
  • Cruise on a sailing ship through mist-draped islands.
  • Buy world class Haida carvings, jewelry and button blankets from their creatorst.

Weather

  • August is the warmest month with an average daily 18°C. May is typically the sunniest month.
  • The islands receive more precipitation and warmer temperatures during winter than any other part of Canada; annual precipitation – mostly rain - on the islands’ west coast is about 168 inches.
  • Weather and wind conditions can change rapidly with little or no warning so be prepared if you are kayaking or hiking.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Rates & dates.
  • Two main islands make up Haida Gwaii along with a southern archipelago of 138 islands within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.
  • The small community of Sandspit on southern Moresby Island is the gateway to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve as well as activities such as fishing, kayaking and hiking. Facilities include a visitor centre, grocery store, post office, laundromat and cafes.
  • Masset is a community at the northern end of Graham Island. Nearby Old Masset is a hub of Haida culture.
When to go
  • Maple Leaf Adventures Haida Gwaii cruises take place in May and June.
  • May and June are cooler than the summer months, but are also less busy than during the July/August tourist season, especially in the park’s remote, serene Haida villages. Also, this is when whales can be seen in full force along with groups of tens of thousands of seabirds like sooty shearwaters.
Need to know
  • Be prepared for comfortable temperatures, but with a high chance of rain showers regardless of the season; a rain jacket and waterproof boots or shoes are essential.
  • Many shops, restaurants and lodgings may be closed outside of the main summer season.
Getting Here
  • Depending on the departure dates, passengers will be picked up by van to start their cruise in either Sandspit or Masset.
  • There are regularaly scheduled commercial flights from Vancouver to Sandspit Airport (YZP) and Masset Airport (ZMT).
  • BC Ferries has regular service from Prince Rupert on the Northern BC mainland to Skidegate in Haida Gwaii.
  • In summer, BC Ferries regularly plies the scenic Inside Passage from Vancouver Island north to Haida Gwaii.