Our Steps for Planning a Kayak Trip
Step 1: Determine if you are experienced enough to take on a kayak trip independently into Gwaii Haanas.
Gwaii Haanas is definitely not a beginner kayaking destination, and your group must feel confident in being able to read marine charts and tide tables, listen to the VHF marine weather forecasts, and put all of those together (along with your own observations), to be able to choose appropriate paddling routes each day, and to help ensure a safe trip. If you don't feel that you are quite up to the challenge of paddling independently, we work closely with a number of excellent kayak tour operators offering expedition trips in Gwaii Haanas.
Step 2: Make your Parks reservation.
Call the Gwaii Haanas Parks Canada office in Skidegate to make your Parks Canada reservation and pay for your Parks Canada pass. Please note: This is NOT the same as the mandatory orientation.
Step 3: Look at a map!
Determine a general route or area, keeping in mind your group's experience level.
Some of our favourite routes are...
You can find a place to purchase marine charts in your area via Canadian Hydrographic Service.
The Sandspit Visitor Center carries marine charts, however do not wait until you arrive. Call or email in advance to ensure they have your charts in stock - 1-250-637-5362 or email@example.com.
Check out our Kayaker FAQs page for more information on charts and tide tables.
Step 4: Contact us.
Consult our transport schedule to get an idea about our dates and availability, and then give our office a call or email to confirm dates and pickup/drop off locations, and to get “pencilled” in to our calendar. If you require kayak rentals you should also ask about availability. We will provide our Trip Planning Package, along with our Conditions of Transportation and/or Rental agreement, as well as our waiver. We'll have you sign the agreements and waiver upon your arrival here, but please have a read through both prior to arriving.
Step 5: Book your travel to the islands.
Ensure you arrive at LEAST one day prior to your drop off transport, and at LEAST one day after your pickup. You should plan to stay in Sandspit the day of your pickup, as we very rarely get back in time for the last ferry to Skidegate and pretty much never in time for the flight from Sandspit.
For more information on getting to and from Sandspit, consult our General FAQ page.
Step 6: Pay your deposit.
Contact us to pay your 25% deposit on your transportation and rentals to fully confirm the booking.
Step 7: Determine where you'll take the mandatory Parks Canada orientation.
The orientation takes approximately 1.5 hours and provides current safety information and traveller protocols, as well as introduces visitors to the natural and cultural heritage of the area. At the orientation you will also receive the mandatory permit for travel within Gwaii Haanas. You can either attend the Gwaii Haanas orientation at the amazing Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate (contact the Gwaii Haanas office or check the Gwaii Haanas trip planner for the schedule), or at our office in Sandspit, based on staff availability and provided it is booked in advance. Gwaii Haanas staff also offer orientations in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island each spring. Contact their office for details.
Note: the orientation CANNOT be done the morning of your transport, you must do it the day before. Every person in your group must have attended the orientation - no orientation, no transport.
Step 8: Prepare for your trip!
Our General FAQ and Kayaker FAQ sections contains a lot of great information about planning for your trip, getting to Gwaii Haanas and exploring the region while you're here. Even if you don't think you have questions, we recommend reading the information on these pages as you start to get yourself organized.
Step 9: Before you head out.
Check in at our office to confirm final details, pay your balance, and talk about approximate pickup time, and exact pick up location. We'll want to know where you plan to be on your pickup day, including backup plans for if that campsite is occupied by another group of if you can't make it that far due to weather or other factors (we're happy to give you ideas for campsites). We will also ask that you sign our waiver and our conditions of rental and transportation forms.
Need More Information? These resources might help!
We rent high quality single and double fiberglass sea kayaks. We also rent and sell essential paddling and outdoor equipment. The minimum rental time is one week.
Because of the vast size of the Gwaii Haanas area, most kayakers choose to get dropped off and/or picked up by our high-speed Zodiacs allowing you to maximize your paddling time!