Whether you’re arriving by ferry, plane, highway, or train, the routes into the port city of Prince Rupert are both stunningly scenic and quintessentially West Coast. Surrounded by deep river valleys, craggy mountain ranges, and seascapes dotted with islands, Prince Rupert stakes the intersection of Northern BC’s famed Route 16 and a mid-point of the Inside Passage, a sheltered waterway running along the coast from Vancouver to Alaska.
Like many coastal communities, ocean activities are the mainstay in Prince Rupert. Enjoy the views from the ocean by taking a tour with Skeena Kayaking, or rent a boat and head out on your own. Whale watching and fishing opportunities abound (Prince Rupert is in fact known as the halibut capital of the world). Numerous fishing charters in the area can show you the locals’ best spots to reel in your own catch of the day.
A visit to Cow Bay’s artist co-operative, Ice House Gallery, is also a great stop for art lovers, as is a leisurely walk through the streets of the mural-adorned city. Prince Rupert is also home to The Museum of Northern British Columbia; its large cedar-wood longhouse houses collections and exhibits highlighting the culture and history of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Nearby, the two-level Sunken Gardens Park (with accessible trails) is great for a nature stroll or a takeout picnic.
For an authentic Indigenous experience, Coastal Cultural Canoeing offers day trips in a large traditional canoe, as Lax Kw’alaams band members share stories of their people and culture. Just outside of town, Butze Rapids is a popular 4.5-kilometre, well-maintained trail with accessible ocean views.
A trip to Prince Rupert isn’t complete without exploring historical communities off the area’s beaten path. Book with Northern BC Jetboat Tours, whose guided tours also include visits to some of the abandoned canneries.
Nearby Port Edward is also a lovely place to visit, if only to take a stroll through the seaside village, taking in the scenery and colourful mood along its boardwalk. There, the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site (closed for the 2020 season) is a functioning monument to the salmon canning industry that was once the lifeblood of the area and offers a picturesque backdrop along the shores of the Skeena.
If saltwater isn’t your cup of tea, Outer Coast Outfitters rents canoes and kayaks for pushing off into the crystal-clear waters of Prudhomme Lake Provincial Park.
After an exciting day of adventuring and sightseeing, whet your whistle at Wheelhouse Brewing, one of Northern BC’s best craft breweries. And be sure to sample the colourful, creative, locally sourced meals from Chef Dai at Fukusaku Sushi, the first sushi restaurant in BC to be 100 percent certified by Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. Opa Sushi, housed beautifully in one of the last remaining net lofts on the coast, is another great option for fresh, local seafood.
This city of 12,000 people boasts a variety of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and lodges. In town, the Eagle Bluff Bed and Breakfast offers marina-side accommodations in the heart of Cow Bay, home to many of Prince Rupert’s shops and restaurants.
The Cassiar Cannery in nearby Port Edward offers an escape from the bustle with cozy and eclectic oceanfront cabins restored from the remnants of a defunct cannery.
There are flights from Vancouver to Prince Rupert five times a week, and VIA Rail offers service along their northern route from Jasper, stopping at many unique communities along the way. A road trip from Smithers or Terrace is another great option, with the route often cited as one of the most scenic drives in Canada.
Perhaps the best way to get to Prince Rupert is via BC Ferries’ Inside Passage route. Departing from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, this 16-hour cruise aboard one of the finest ships in BC Ferries’ fleet sails through some of the most beautiful waters on the Pacific Coast. Guests often spot whales, sea lions, and porpoises along the way.
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