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Monday, 26 March 2012

Haida Gwaii Tours - All Inclusive Packages




Photo Credit: Haida Heritage Centre


Are you considering a trip to Haida Gwaii in 2012? Don’t know how to start/where to go/what to do? You might want to consider the option of all inclusive package vacations and let someone else take on the stress of planning!



Photo Credit: Heron Weir




Photo Credit: Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours 



Photo Credit: Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours


Let’s look at some options:


Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours has provided high quality guided land-based tours since 2002.



Photo Credit: Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours


Photo Credit: Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours


The organization offers choices in tours ranging from all inclusive packages (return airfare from Vancouver, accommodation, meals, and guided cultural, natural and historical tours) to custom group and privately guided tours.



Photo Credit: Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours


Tours are limited to 15 participants and cover all of the Islands major stops and points of interest, as well as many lesser known local areas. Check out this 6 Day/5 Night Tour for $2,625 http://haidagwaiidiscovery.com/documents/AllInclusiveDiscoveryTour2012_000.pdf




Photo Credit: Haida Gwaii Discovery Tours



The Haida House at Tllaal is looking forward to quickly developing a presence on Haida Gwaii when it opens its doors on June 15th, 2012.



Photo Credit: Haida House at Tllaal


Specializing in Cultural Tourism, the Haida House offers, from June to September, all-inclusive tour packages feature authentic Haida-guided tours to remote heritage sights, as well as land, sea and air adventure excursions.


Photo Credit: Heron Weir

Packages includes return airfare from Vancouver, accommodation at the Haida House and meals. Packages range from 4 day/3 nights ($2,952) to 8 day/7night ($4,855). Check out their packages http://haidahouse.com/index-2.html




Photo Credit: Tourism BC


B&B rates are also available for the overnight visitor and the Haida House’s dining room is open for evening meals on weekends and for Sunday Brunch by reservation.




 Photo Credit: Tourism BC


BC Ferries Vacations has developed vacation packages for its clientele including the 4 night ‘Haida Gwaii Adventure’ http://www.bcferriesvacations.com/packages/package-details04281009.php .


Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters


The package includes return ferry travel and accommodation at the Alaska View Lodge (a Bed and Breakfast room). Prices range from $430 to $530 per person per night, based on double occupancy.

Photo Credits: Trip Advisor


This package does not include land or remote cultural heritage site tours however; the BC Ferries Vacations staff are very friendly and helpful and will assist you in identifying local tour providers prior to your arrival on Haida Gwaii. I found the ‘quote’ service very useful and the response time was very satisfactory (you will be contacted by an agent) https://bcfres.omnilogic.net/vacations/wizard/travel/package-details04281009 .


 Photo Credit: Jenn Dolen




As an aside, I understand that BC Ferries is currently developing partnerships on Haida Gwaii to offer an increased variety of accommodations and activities as part of the tour packages.



 Photo Credit: Archie Stocker Sr



For those who prefer to plan their own travel, remember that in addition to providing general information on Haida Gwaii, the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre offers a trip planning and reservation service. The VC staff is very friendly and knowledgeable.


Photo Credit: QC Visitor Centre



Photo Credit: Ian Gould

The GoHaidaGwaii website also provides you with an abundance of information including accommodation, activities.



Photo Credit: Ian Gould



Various other package options are available but not discussed here (ie: fishing lodges and other guided sport packages). We will be gathering information on some of these packages for a future blog.

Monday, 19 March 2012

What's There to do on Haida Gwaii in the 'Shoulder Seasons'?

The primary visitor season on Haida Gwaii is June through September which is understandable as that is when we have our 'nicest weather'. However, those of us who live here know that we are blessed with such mild weather that outdoor activities are abundant on a year round basis.


Jordie, a local teen created this video to inspire awareness of activities possible on Haida Gwaii!
 Video Credit: 'Pippenthedog'

Ok, so perhaps some of these activities might be better left to the younger people with a bit more flexibility! Let's take a look at other things to do in the winter and spring on Haida Gwaii...Let's go!

Northern BC Tourism

The waters around Haida Gwaii are well known for great fishing. Salmon, halibut and other species make for exciting fishing as well as excellent eating. Chinook salmon (also called spring salmon) are the largest salmon, and can be caught in the spring, summer and early fall. The smaller coho salmon can be caught in the summer and early fall. Check out some of Haida Gwaii's charter operators who would be pleased to help make your visit memorable!

How about fresh water fishing? Salmon can be caught in rivers in the fall, and cutthroat trout and dolly varden can be caught whenever allowed by regulations. Throughout the winter, there are several excellent steelhead runs on the islands. The Tlell, Yakoun and Copper rivers, among others, are great places to fish steelhead.

 Photo Credit: Ian Gould

Besides fishing, what else is there do to, you ask? Aside from an amazing selection of wilderness hikes, excellent year round kayaking and boating opportunities, 3 museums and heritage centre, art galleries and gift shops, Haida Gwaii  is the only place in all of Northern British Columbia where travellers can surf! The North Beach Surf Shop rents (and sells) equipment and offers lessons for those inspired to head out to North Beach for a day of surf! Let's see what that might look like...

Video Credit: 'kevlarsmit'


PS: After writing this blog, our family joined another family for a beach picnic in Tlell. The sun was shining, the campfire warm, young people ran up and down the vast expanse of beach while other couples wandered over to join in the hot dog roast and campfire cuisine! That's the type of thing we do in the shoulder seasons on Haida Gwaii.

Come visit us - the activities and possibilities are endless! 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre

Submitted by Shawna McLeod




Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre
The Queen Charlotte Visitor Center is located on the waterfront in the Village of Queen Charlotte with gorgeous ocean views. Run by a non profit organization, the Friends of the QC Visitor Centre, the QCVC is also a part of the Tourism BC Info Network.

Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre

Open year round, inside the longhouse inspired building you will find resourceful and engaging Tourism BC trained Visitor Information Counselors who will help you plan your trip while visiting the Islands. They can provide you with plenty of free resources including maps, hiking information and the 2012 Guide to Haida Gwaii.

 Photo Credit: Shawna McLeod

The visitor centre has extensive information on local accommodations, tour companies, vehicle rentals, festivals, events, and other local information. Planning to visit another BC town or city? No problem! They also have free resources including maps, guide books, and vacation planners for the rest of beautiful BC too!


Photo Credit: Jason Shafto
In the summer months you will find local Artists on site painting, carving or crafting, and you may even catch a performance from a local band or Haida Dancers as part of their “Artist of the Week” program. This exciting program features a different local Artist on site each week through July and August where you can watch them work and interact.


Photo Credit: Brian Eccles


Additionally, once a week throughout the summer Season you will also find the Gwaii Haanas Interpretive team offering their free Speaker Series program. Each week they cover a different topic such as; Old Growth Forests, Puffins, Cedar, and many more.


Photo Credit: Brian Eccles

Another exciting feature that was added last season at the QCVC is their salt water touch tank aquarium, with locally gathered creatures. Inside the tank you’ll find plenty of Crab and Seastar species, Nudibranchs, Snails, Sculpins, and many more species. How many can you find?


Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre




Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre



For a bit of peace and quiet, you can relax on the benches on their waterfront deck, have lunch in their interpretive garden with picnic tables and ocean views, or chill out inside on their comfy chairs and choose from a wide variety of local DVD’s to watch.

Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre



Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre




If you’re looking to bring back a little bit of Haida Gwaii with you, they also have an extensive retail selection that includes plenty of Art by local artists including carved Cedar, Argillite, Gold, Silver, and Copper Jewellery, pottery, paintings, and prints. Additionally you will find other souvenirs including books, clothing, cards, and much more!

 Photo Credit: Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre


For information and help planning your trip to Haida Gwaii, they also have a reservation and booking service to help you plan your perfect itinerary before you arrive as well.



How to get here:


From the Skidegate ferry terminal 10-minute drive (5 km) along the waters edge, turn left as you enter the village. Check out their website, www.qcinfo.ca for current hours and more information, or call (250) 559-8316 to speak with a Visitor Information Counselor.

Photo Credit: Jenn Dolen


Located at 3220 Wharf Street, in Queen Charlotte, the QCVC has a large parking area for RVs and 3 indoor public restrooms.


Stay tuned for upcoming blogs featuring the Sandspit and Masset Visitor Centres!



Monday, 5 March 2012

Haida Gwaii Trip Planning

 Photo Credit: Ian Gould
You might find our visitor map useful while reading this blog. It may help you visualize the layout of our island communities while you plan your travels around Haida Gwaii.

Introduction

In planning your trip to Haida Gwaii, the following information may provide you with the details you need for traveling time and ability to connect with local service providers prior to your visit.

Access to Haida Gwaii is by air or water. Two airlines provide regular daily scheduled flights to Haida Gwaii. For those with family and friends here, you may have transportation available to you for sightseeing.

 Photo Credit: Sandspitbc.ca

If time is a factor, you may wish to fly into Masset or Sandspit and rent a vehicle for sightseeing or if you want to maximize your experience, consider a charter tour service for on-land and/or remote area tours.

For those traveling by BC Ferries[1] (approximately 7 hours from Prince Rupert), you might consider bringing a vehicle for the convenience and economic savings of visiting the numerous attractions on Graham and Moresby Island which are accessible by road.


Photo Credit: BC Ferries
In general, if you have planned your visits and booked your tours in advance, you could ‘get away with’ a minimum of one week spent sightseeing on Haida Gwaii (would allow you to see the primary attractions). If you have not made the arrangements in advance, you may want to add a few extra days to your visit as tour providers may not be able provide service in short notice.

 Photo Credit: Haida Heritage Centre

A much more relaxed visit to Haida Gwaii with more time spent sightseeing, shopping and meeting the friendly residents of the various communities, could be made in a two week period.

For those traveling with a vehicle, you will want to ensure that you reserve passage on the ferry in advance and remember to factor in the extra day travel to and from Prince Rupert.

A Sample Itinerary:

If I were a visitor Haida Gwaii, I would like to allow enough time to visit the island communities and see their various attractions. I would want approximately 4 days to visit the various communities and would ensure that it included a visit to the Haida Heritage Centre, museums, local art studios and gift shops, farmers markets, trendy coffee shops restaurants and beaches (shells differ on every beach!). I would also want to book a charter to see the Gwaii Haanas and spend some time soaking at Hot Springs Island looking out on the ocean, the only traffic in sight being kayaks from neighbouring Ramsey Island.

 Photo Credit: Heron Weir

A single day tour in Gwaii Haanas would enable me to visit one heritage site at the north end of Gwaii Haanas. To include a visit to multiple sites and Hot Springs Island, I would need about 2-4 days. If I wanted to visit the southern sites in Gwaii Haanas including SGaang Gwaii (Ninstints), I would want to allow for approximately 4 days. These tours should be booked in advance as many are dependent upon a minimum number of confirmed guests.

 Photo Credit: Heron Weir

An alternative to the above, might be to book a one week ‘All-Inclusive Tour’ which includes return travel to Haida Gwaii, land tours and tours to the Haida Heritage sites in Gwaii Haanas. You could leave the trip planning to someone who specializes in making your visit memorable.

  Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters

Trip Planning Details - Please see the trip planning information below to assist you in your travel arrangements.

Air


Air Canada has regular scheduled flights from Vancouver to the community of Sandspit, daily in the winter months and twice daily in the summer.

Pacific Coastal Airlines has regular scheduled daily flights between Vancouver and the Village of Masset

North Pacific Seaplanes has regular scheduled flights between Prince Rupert and the Village of Masset - twice daily weekdays (once daily on weekends)


Water

BC Ferries provides regular scheduled service[2] year round, from Prince Rupert to Skidegate Landing (appx 10 mins drive to the Village of Queen Charlotte). BC Ferries transports passengers and vehicles, and can easily accommodate bikes and kayaks. This journey takes approximately 7 hours if weather conditions are good.

BC Ferries also provides a small ferry service between Skidegate Landing and Alliford Bay (neighbouring the community of Sandspit). The 20-minute ferry ride to Alliford Bay ‘opens the doors’ for visitors to access the numerous recreational opportunities on Moresby Island (see the Feb 27 blog on recreation in Sandspit for more information).



The Islands have long been known for their excellent recreational boating opportunities. Experienced boaters and sailors often choose to bring their own marine vessel to the islands, especially to explore Gwaii Haanas. Sandspit, Queen Charlotte, Port Clements and Masset have marinas and services catering to recreational boaters. Check the boating section for more information.

Roads

Haida Gwaii is accessible only by air or water. Visitors can travel around Haida Gwaii by vehicle (you can bring your own or rent a vehicle on Haida Gwaii).

The primary road on Haida Gwaii, Highway 16, is approximately 113km (70mi) long and connects all communities on Graham Island from Masset in the north to Queen Charlotte in the south. The highway is paved and in relatively good condition.

A 20-minute ferry transports vehicles and passengers between Skidegate Landing on Graham Island (near Queen Charlotte) and Alliford Bay on Moresby Island, connecting the Graham Island communities with the community of Sandspit. The 22km (13mi) road from Alliford Bay ferry terminal through Sandspit is the only paved road on Moresby Island.

There are an extensive network of gravel roads on Moresby and Graham Islands, which access a variety of hiking trails and campgrounds. Some of these roads are used by logging traffic, so it is important to have up-to-date information before heading out. The Visitor Centres in Queen Charlotte and Sandspit are great resources for road information and maps.

How to ‘Get Around’

It is difficult to fully explore the islands without a vehicle. You can bring your own car on the ferry from Prince Rupert or rent one on island. If renting, try to find a vehicle you can take on the gravel roads so that you are not restricted to the highway.

Many of the primary attractions such as Gwaii Haanas Park are accessible only by water or air, however there are a number of excellent charter services available to help you explore the islands.


Photo Credit: Heron Weir
There is no islands-wide public transit on the islands, however a shuttle does meet travelers at the Sandspit airport and travels to each of the communities on Graham Island. Taxis can be found in Sandspit and on Graham Island.

 Photo Credit: Eagle Transit

It is best to book the shuttle or taxis in advance whenever possible. Chartered tours of the islands are also available.

Biking is another great way to get around. Bikes are available for rent in Sandspit, Queen Charlotte and Masset, and are especially popular for day trips to the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate, a hour bike ride from Queen Charlotte.

Ocean sightseeing or fishing charter tours are also available in most of the island communities. Chartered boats are also available for transporting work crews to remote locations or custom water-taxi runs.

Taxi and Bus Service

Taxi services are located in each of the larger communities. There is also an island shuttle service that services the ferry and the Sanspit airport connections.

NH Connections: Northern Health's Ferry Connector service provides public bus service to and from BC Ferries' Skidegate terminal. Wheelchair service is available. Call Eagle Transit for details (250-559-4461).

Airport Shuttle: Service to and from the Sandspit Airport (YZP). Eagle Transit meets Air Canada Jazz flights.


Taxi Services:

Sandspit Taxi Sandspit 637-5655

Eagle Transit Queen Charlotte 559-4461

Ron Souza Limo Service Queen Charlotte 637-1459

Gwaii Taxi Skidegate 559-8622

Highlander Marine Services Skidegate 637-1111

Mile Zero Taxi Greater Masset 626-8999

Haida Time Taxi Greater Massett 626-7994



Auto Rentals

Rent a car at the Sandspit Airport or in Queen Charlotte and Masset.

Rental vehicle contact numbers are:

Budget Car & Truck Rentals Sandspit 250-637-5688

Budget Car & Truck Rentals Queen Charlotte 250-559-4262

Island Auto Rentals Queen Charlotte 250-559-4118

National Car & Truck Rentals Masset 250-626-3833

Rustic Car Rentals Masset 250-626-3756

Rustic Car Rentals Queen Charlotte 250-559-4641

Charters

Haida Gwaii has many experienced visitor guides providing excellent chartered tour services. Visit our website and the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre for contact information.

Inland Air Charter’s headquarters are located in Prince Rupert. The company operates a summer base in Queen Charlotte. They are a charter business with the flexibility to go where you want at almost any time. Book a flight-seeing tour anywhere on Haida Gwaii. Call 1-888-624-2577 for more info.

Accommodation

Haida Gwaii has many choices in accommodation. Options range from 'rooms with a view' to rustic cabins on the beach. The summer is a busy season so please book ahead. Check our website and that of the Queen Charlotte Information Centre to for contact information of local accommodation providers.

Annual Events/Attractions
You may wish to include some of the island events in your itinerary - these range from a music festival, agricultural fair and sporting events to community and cultural celebrations. See our website for annual event dates and location.


Photo Credit: Jason Shafto

We hope this information will prove helpful. You may find it useful to know that the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre provides a trip-planning and reservation booking service.








[1] BC Ferries provides almost daily connections to Haida Gwaii throughout the summer months. Fall and winter service is 3 times weekly.


[2] BC Ferries provides connections, at Prince Rupert, for those travelling between Haida Gwaii and Port Hardy (Vancouver Island) or for those travelling north on Alaska's Marine Ferry System.