Cruising the Inside Passage

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Cruising the Inside Passage through channels surrounded by mountains that tower out of the sea, I realize just how immense and diverse BC’s coast truly is. Backtrack to this morning and I’m driving onto a spaceship-like vessel as its bow opens widely for passengers to board.

Cars driving onto a large ferry.

I’m embarking on a tour with BC Ferries’ MV Northern Expedition that makes a 15-hour journey year-round between Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert on the North Coast. It travels over 500 kilometres (310 miles) along the coastline of one of BC’s most spectacularly scenic routes: the Inside Passage.

The front end of a BV Ferry is open to allow vehicles to load.

As the ferry departs, we pass serene fjords and forested islands, spotting whales, sea lions, and eagles en route. It really is a ferry ride turned wildlife cruise.

A breaching orca whale.

The Northern Expedition is an extremely relaxing ride. Passengers enjoy comfortable seats in the Aurora Lounge and many food options including a tasty barbecue lunch on a large outdoor deck.

A man sits in a chair, looking out the windows of a BC Ferry.

I chat with people who have travelled from all over the world to see with their own eyes the beauty of BC’s vast coastline. They are already impressed and we are not even halfway through this trip.

A lighthouse perched at the edge of a rocky coastline.

Once in a while, we hear ship announcements that share interesting historical facts about the places we pass. There are many points of interest along the Inside Passage with a couple of my favourites being Bella Bella and Grenville Channel.

Hands hold open a map titled “Points of Interest Along The Inside Passage”.

About 5 hours into the journey we reach Bella Bella, a scenic fishing and logging community and one of the largest First Nations communities on the coast.

An older man and a young boy take in the view of the coast from the deck of a ferry.

Grenville Channel appears 11 hours into the trip. It’s the most spectacular channel along the Inside Passage with mountains that soar 1,066 metres (3500 feet) over the ocean. The narrowest section is a mere 426 metres (1400 feet) wide and it feels as though you can touch the sides of the channel as you pass through. The channel is 70km (869 miles) long and I spend the entire time on the sunny deck taking it all in.

A man takes in a mountain landscape from the deck of a ferry.

As we approach our final destination, the sunset gives us the perfect end to our journey.

The sun sets over a BC Ferry.

We’ve seen so much over the past 15 hours and I realize just how much more of British Columbia’s coast there is to explore.

Aerial view on BC’s Inside Passage at sunrise.

Inside Passage Tip:

BC Ferries travels the Inside Passage year-round but more frequently in the summer. It’s a good idea to make a reservation for a no worries trip. If journeying from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, it’s worth spending a few extra days here taking in the amazing sights like Bear Watching in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, or jump on another ferry to see Ancient First Nation villages in Haida Gwaii.