Johnstone Strait Kayak Tours

Please choose a tour below to view the itinerary and make a secure reservation.

Orca Base Camp (25.114)
4 days / 3 nights
Whales and Grizzly Bears (25.254)
4 days / 3 nights
Whales & Wilderness Glamping (30.278)
4 days / 3 nights
Whales and Wilderness Explorer (25.115)
6 days / 5 nights

Johnstone Strait

Kayaking in Johnstone Strait

A note from Scott: When researching your kayak vacation, whether it is with Vancouver Island Kayak or another company, it’s important to note what’s included and what’s not included. This is especially important in Johnstone Strait.

One feature all our tours share is a group hydrophone to listen to the orcas’ underwater conversations. Hydrophones are an expensive piece of equipment and are not offered by all operators. The second aspect you may wish to consider is whether you prefer an expedition-style trip or a base camp. Tours 25.144 and 25.254 paddle out of base camps. The balance of tours listed are expedition-style, which means we generally change camp locations every two nights or so.

The top of Johnstone Strait and the bottom of Queen Charlotte Strait are the most popular areas for those who want to kayak with whales.

Johnstone Strait is located between the north-eastern end of Vancouver Island and the BC mainland. This 87 kilometer glacier-carved waterway stretches from Chatham Point to Hanson Island, with Vancouver Island on the south and the rugged mainland coast on the north. The area offers diverse opportunities for sea kayaking including intricate and remote island archipelagos, refuge bays and deep fjords. The Strait is the main water route north, and it is not uncommon to see watercraft ranging from cruise ships and freighters to pleasure craft.

A classic whale-watching area is at the top of Johnstone Strait, not far from Telegraph Cove. This area has one of the largest resident Orca (killer whale) populations in the world and is an excellent kayaking area. It encompasses Blackfish Sound, home to countless small islands including Hanson Island, the base for the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve, established to provide a sanctuary for Orcas. Each year the Orcas return to the area to feed on the abundant supply of salmon, and to rub their bellies on the barnacle-encrusted rocks, pebbles and gravel seafloor at Robson Bight. The region is also home to Minke whales, Dall's Porpoise's, seals, mink, sea lions, black bear, deer, cougar and over 150 different types of birds.

Telegraph Cove is one of the most unique developments along Johnstone Strait. Constructed on stilts, this small, brightly painted hamlet was once the terminus for a telegraph line. Yorke Island still offers traces of an old fort built during WWII to protect the northern entrance to the inland waters. It is also the terminus of some of our trips. which include transportation by van back to Port McNeil. 

North America: 1.800.255.5057 - UK: 0.800.051.6364 - Australia: 1.800.143.454

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Queen Charlotte Strait Johnstone Strait Haida Gwaii Gulf Islands Broken Island Group Clayoquot Sound Nuchatlitz Great Bear Rainforest Desolation Sound
As featured in National Geographic Adventure

From Our Blog

Getting Busy

Saturday, February 16 2019

Here in Victoria the snow is dissipating which we hope is a sign that spring is around the corner. While many others remain locked in winter's grasp, most everyone (except for the die-hard skiers) are thinking of warmer weather. And from my corner of the world, this translates to kayak vacations. In particular, our trips to Haida Gwaii, Johnstone Strait and Broken Group are gathering speed, with a number of departures sold out and some others having one or two seats remaining. Please use our search engine to select a date and trip - if the departure you want is booked please let me know.  If the demand is there, I might be able to put on another departure. more