Welcome to Port Hardy, the very end of Highway 19 and a community of 4,000 on the tip of Vancouver Island. Edging along the Queen Charlotte Strait, the land was first settled by the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation over 8,000 years ago. Today it is a busy tourist spot for its many outdoor adventures, as well as the departure point for the cruise up to Prince Rupert through the Inside Passage.
This part of the Island is grand, breathtaking, and rugged in some parts. If you are feeling brave enough to come, then you are probably pulled towards the idea of fishing and hiking in the deep wilderness. Some make the journey to enjoy the cruise through the fjords of the Inside Passage with BC Ferries. They offer a summer route of the 15 hour cruise during the day, or you can wait until fall through spring for the night crossing.
How to Get the Most out of Your Port Hardy Trek
If you take the voyage, you can see many sea creatures frolic around the little archipelagos that make up the Inside Passage and the scenery constantly changes as you head to Prince Rupert. A good way to save money is by not bringing your car; try using the shuttle service to take you around town for shopping and sightseeing instead. One thing to remember is to make sure you reserve your seat on the ferry, and you have two options of a route to take. The Fall-Winter route is different from the summer one, so you can choose whichever suits your needs.
If you prefer to stay on dry land to hike around, there is a new trail system at Cape Scott Provincial Park called The North Coast Trail. The park is located about an hour and a half west of Port Hardy and well worth the trip to see the landscape. Most who come here take advantage of the incredible camping, and if you do, remember that you are in the wilderness and take the necessary precautions regarding safety. The new trail opened in 2008 and is 46km long. The challenging multi-day hike includes some bridges, boardwalks, and stream crossings. You can visit both sand and pebble beaches along the trail.
Why Not Reel in some Fish While You’re Here?
Like Campbell River, fishing is hot up here. There are many tours to choose from so if you are new to it, finding a coach and guide should be no problem. Of course, there is the popular fishing trip to Queen Charlotte Strait, but you really have endless opportunities for what you want out of a fishing trip.
Salmon fishing is best April-Sept. around spots like Blackfish Sound. Halibut goes from June-Oct. in favorites such as Richards Channel or Ripple Passage. If you are more interested in fresh water then you can always try for trout fly fishing or steelhead in the several streams and lakes around, but note that you’ll have to access them in fairly remote areas via logging roads.
Other Port Hardy Sightseeing Options
If this is all sounding too wild for you and you just want to chill, there are plenty of cabins or B&B’s to stay at where you can experience nature on your own terms. I am not too chicken to go on a Grizzly bear watch with Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures, just over an hour South of Port Hardy in Telegraph Cove. There you can travel by boat to Knight Inlet, where the owners have staked out the places to see the bears and learn all about their lives; I believe some of them even have names.
The Northern tip of the Island has some amazing terrain, people, wildlife, and camping. This is the best place for nature enthusiasts whether you want to explore on your own or use the ferry to discover the Inside Passage.
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