I’m often asked to rank the best experiences on The Great Canadian Bucket List. To do so is complicated for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that just because I had “the best time ever” doesn’t mean you will. Travel is intensely personal, shaped by our personalities, the people we meet, the individual experiences we have. That being said, I often default to items that made a deep impression on me, and one of them, without doubt, is sailing for a week in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.
My visit to Haida Gwaii is the first chapter in the book, but unfortunately there’s not enough space to throw in images, and not enough technology to add video. The gallery above runs through my arrival in Skidegate, visiting the fascinating Haida Heritage Centre, suiting up for the zodiac ride to catch up with Bluewater Adventures’ Island Roamer. I arrived a day late, so special thanks to Moresby Explorers for getting me to the boat. Skipper Randy Burke is an inspiring custodian for both the reserve, and for guests sailing aboard Bluewater’s vessels. He plotted out a route that took in all the highlights, including Haida village National Historic Sites, the old whaling station in Rose Harbour, salmon swimming upstream in Echo Harbour, and the ancient totem polls on Sgang Gwaii (aka Anthony Island).
Haida Gwaii is known as “the Galapagos of the North” and having recently returned from the Galapagos of the south, I’m finally able to make the comparison. Both experiences involve sailing/cruising through a remote archipelago of astonishing, albeit different beauty. Both are rich with marine wildlife, although the Galapagos has endemic species like tropical penguins and iguanas and dozens of birds. Haida Gwaii has the rich cultural history of the Haida people, while the Galapagos has history that, thanks to a short visit by Charles Darwin, literally revolutionized our understanding of the world. Both experiences are unforgettable, and as much as one tries, both are incomparable.
Watch Robin’s video from Haida Gwaii
From the book:
“West of British Columbia’s west coast, beyond the boiling water of stormy dreams and on the knife’s edge of the continental shelf is a 280-kilometre-long archipelago of unsurpassed myth and beauty. A region of mountain, creeks and towering trees, these Pacific islands are inhabited by a culture whose uniqueness means its art is instantly recognized, its language found nowhere else on Earth.”
You can find information about visiting Haida Gwaii here, and if you’re interested in ticking this one off, book here to receive a $75 gift certificate from Mountain Equipment Co-op.