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.


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:

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 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)


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.


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


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.


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.

No comments:

Post a Comment