Discover Haida Gwaii in Northern BC.
Planning a surfing trip to Haida Gwaii? Here are six things to know before you go.
Travel to Haida Gwaii by BC Ferries from Prince Rupert, or take the scenic route through the Inside Passage departing from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. You can also fly from Vancouver to Masset on Pacific Coastal Airlines. Be sure to check with the airline regarding baggage restrictions.
The largest communities on the islands include Queen Charlotte City, Skidegate and Massett, all located on Graham Island.
The most consistent surf on Haida Gwaii is at North Beach in Naikoon Provincial Park. Depending on the conditions, the surfing is suited for both beginners and experienced surfers alike, although it is recommended to be a strong swimmer and, if you are unfamiliar with cold-water surfing, to gradually adjust to the conditions. A 7 mm hooded wetsuit, booties and gloves are recommended.
October to March is typically the best window for surfing Haida Gwaii. Visit during the annual Expression Session surf festival, held in October or November, depending on the tides. Check North Beach Surf Shop in Masset for more information, or for rentals, guided tours and lessons for both surfing and paddleboarding.
For lodging, Hiellen Longhouse Village is a Haida-owned-and-operated lodge steps to the beach and surrounded by ancient rain forest. These cozy cabins are pet friendly, and equipped with simple kitchens as well as wood stoves for heat. Bring your own bedding and enjoy a real no-frills northwest surf vibe. Other nearby lodging options include Haida Gwaii Beach Cabins, High Water House, North Beach Cabins, Copper Beech House, All The Beach You Can Eat and Chinook Lodge. There are also tent and car camping options available through BC Parks.
As for getting around the Island, check Go Haida Gwaii for up to date information. Many of the surf breaks are accessible by a short drive on the beach. Always pay attention to the signage and regulations, and only drive where permitted to preserve this ecological treasure. Most rental car companies have restrictions regarding driving on the beach. Seek the advice of locals to avoid being caught on the beach during high tide.
On beaches and headlands, always be aware of tides, rip currents and weather, as it is possible to become isolated on disappearing sand bars as tides rise or heavy weather increases wave height. Naikoon Provincial Park is a wilderness area with no supplies of any kind and amenities in nearby communities are limited. Suitable clothing should be worn, and proper equipment carried for outdoor living. For more information on safe wilderness travel visit BC Adventure Smart.
Header image: Gwaliga Hart surfing at North Beach in Naikoon Provincial Park | Marcus Paladino
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