A person is catching a wave in the distance at Naikoon Provincial Park. Dried grasses are out of focus in the foreground of the frame.

Plan Your Trip to Haida Gwaii

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Before arriving on the islands, visitors are strongly encouraged to take the Haida Gwaii Pledge and learn how to travel to Haida Gwaii respectfully. 

Located off the northwest coast of BC, Haida Gwaii is an ideal destination to experience the rugged and remote wilderness that British Columbia is known for. This chain of islands is home to the Haida Nation, and it is one of Canada’s most historically, culturally, and geographically unique areas.

Carver Christian White offers tours of his carving studio | Northern BC Tourism/Marcus Paladino

What to do in Haida Gwaii

For the adventurous crowd there is no shortage of activities, and the ocean is the obvious place to start. Wilderness tours and kayak rental companies allow you to get out on the water and experience the islands’ beaches and coastal bluffs. Check out Green Coast Kayaking or Haida Style Expeditions to start. Hiking and camping offer immersive experiences in the outdoors (The hike up Taaw Tldáaw in Naikoon Provincial Park is spectacular, with viewing platforms overlooking ocean and beach below—there’s even a 1.5 km accessible trail for those with mobility challenges). Be sure to stop in at artist Christian White’s carving shed in Gaw (Old Masset) to see traditional Haida totem poles and long boats being carved.

Haida Heritage Centre, Haida Gwaii | Grant Harder

Two words can describe Haida Gwaii cuisine: seafood and abundance. Overlooking the harbour in Daajing Giids, Blacktail delivers a casual, fine dining experience fit for a celebration, romantic rendez-vous or gathering with great friends and loved ones. The restaurant at Haida House specializing in tide- and farm-to-table cuisine, offering a variety of shareable plates, fresh seafood and charbroiled meat dishes, local seasonal vegetables and decadent house-made desserts.

Locals here have a deep sense of place and culture. For a destination with a year-round population in the low thousands, Haida Gwaii has a remarkable number of museums and art galleries. Start at the Haida Heritage Centre, operated by the Haida Nation. The centre provides an introduction to the history and living culture of the Haida, including a museum, a carving shed, and six poles to represent six of the southernmost villages on Haida Gwaii.

There is a lot of potential ground to cover, but pace yourself. The ancient Haida culture, dense rainforests, and expansive beaches have a mythical vibe. If you’re in too much of a hurry, you might miss it.

Hiellen Longhouse Village in Naikoon Provincial Park near Massett | Marcus Paladino

Where to stay in Haida Gwaii

HlGaagilda (Skidegate), Masset, and the Village of Daajing Giids are the three largest towns on Haida Gwaii, and they are home to many of its services. There is no shortage of places to stay, and the islands’ remote location lends itself to intimate accommodation. The Copper Beech House Bed and Breakfast in Masset, owned by Canadian poet Susan Musgrave, is renowned for its warmth and character.

Haida House at Tllaal receives rave reviews for complementing its natural surroundings. And on the North Shore, check out the Hiellen Longhouse Village for rustic off-the-grid cabins where the rive meets the ocean. Those looking for a unique lodging experience should check out the Haida Gwaii Glamping Company, or rent a home on wheels for the week with Gwaii Adventure Campers.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Haida Gwaii | Brandon Hartwig

How to get to Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii comprises two main islands: Graham Island to the north, where most of the population and services are found, and Moresby Island to the south, home to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area, and Haida Heritage Site. These two main islands, along with 150 smaller ones, make up the archipelago once known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The BC Ferries also provides service from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii. Be sure to reserve a spot as they can fill up quick.

Pacific Coastal Airlines flies into Masset (on Graham Island) from several communities in BC, and daily flights from Vancouver to Sandspit Airport on Moresby Island are available year round with Air Canada (twice daily in the summer).

Renting a car from the airport is recommended, as taxis only operate in major communities. If your preferred way to travel is by two wheels, check out Haida Tide e-bike rentals or Haida Gwaii Scooter Rentals. There are no shuttles or services between towns, but guided tours are a convenient alternative.


Originally published in March, 2018.


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