Road Trip from Vancouver to Northern Vancouver Island

Road Trip from Vancouver to Northern Vancouver Island

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This spring, Vancouver-based photographers Shayd Johnson and Nathaniel Atakora Martin set out on a week-long road trip up the east coast of Vancouver Island, as far as Cape Scott Provincial Park on the Island’s northern tip. Along the way, they explored the waterfront communities of Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Sointula and Alert Bay. Below, see some of their favourite images from the journey.

Stop 1: Telegraph Cove

After sailing with BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, north of Vancouver, to Nanaimo, on the Island’s east coast, Shayd and Nathan made the four-hour drive to Telegraph Cove, a picturesque community built on stilts known for its outstanding whale watching opportunities.

A colourful fishing village on an overcast day.

Photo: @xshaydx via Instagram

“Wandering the boardwalk village of Telegraph Cove.”

View of a kayaker between two trees, drenched in sunlight.

Photo: @nathanielatakora via Instagram

“Soaking up the last few rays of sunshine in the calm waters of Telegraph Cove.”

Stop 2: Port Hardy

Their second day was spent on tour with Sea Wolf Adventures. The tour included a salmon BBQ lunch on a remote beach, and a visit with First Nations carver Calvin Hunt.

A man smokes two salmon fillets over a campfire.

Photo: @nathanielatakora via Instagram

“Our guide, Mike Willie, carefully prepares some freshly caught salmon. The fish is gutted and flayed and then pinched between small cedar planks before being smoked over the fire.”

A totem pole in the making.

Photo: @xshaydx via Instagram

“A totem in the making by Calvin Hunt in Port Hardy.”

Day three started with a ferry crossing to Malcolm Island and the tiny community of Sointula, originally established as a utopian society by a group of Finnish settlers.

A lighthouse sits on the coast of a rocky beach, overlooking water and mountains.

Photo: @xshaydx via Instagram

“Landing on the shores of an active lighthouse on Malcolm Island (Sointula).”

Stop 4: Alert Bay

Day four began with another ferry crossing, this one to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Alert Bay is known for its First Nations culture, and for the highly respected U’mista Cultural Centre.

A hill dottes with intricate totem poles.

Photo: @nathanielatakora via Instagram

“Each of these totem poles serve as a record of an individual’s identity and ceremonial privilege. When the totem grows old and falls to the ground its purpose has been served and a new one should take its place.”

Boats docked at a bustling wharf on a sunny day.

Photo: @nathanielatakora via Instagram

“Warm sunny days and salty sea air. Alert Bay is a special place where time seems to slow down and every moment seems notable.”

Stop 5: Cape Scott Provincial Park

Next on the agenda was a two-night camping trip in Cape Scott Provincial Park, home of the challenging Cape Scott Trail.

A man explores a rocky coastline and a sandy beach.

Photo: @xshaydx via Instagram

“Exploring the rugged coastline of San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Provincial Park.”

A person walks across a sprawling sandy beach under an overcast sky.

Photo: @xshaydx via Instagram

“The vast and empty beaches of the northern island (San Josef Bay).”

Stop 6: Coal Harbour

And the trip concluded with a two-hour flightseeing excursion over Cape Scott with Wilderness Seaplanes.

A seaplane is docked in a densely forested area.

Photo: @nathanielatakora via Instagram

“A quick pitt stop before flying over Cape Scott and taking in the rugged coastline of the Northern Island.”

For more of Nathan’s and Shayd’s adventures, follow along with them on Instagram at @nathanielatakora and @xshaydx. Learn more about how to explore BC this summer at, and be sure to tag your BC photos with #exploreBC.