Located on the spectacular shores of Vancouver Island’s northern tip, Port McNeill, BC, is a hotspot for eco-adventurers. Much of the action begins at the marina where sailboats, yachts, kayaks, cruise ships, ferries, and seaplanes come and go, day in and day out. The village is also dubbed the “Gateway to the Broughton Archipelago,” the biggest marine park in British Columbia, Canada.
Beyond its busy harbour community, Port McNeill is known for its lush rainforests and Aboriginal culture. At the town centre, you’ll find art galleries, gift shops, restaurants, pubs, and a host of accommodations. Campgrounds are also nearby.
With its coastal setting and rich wilderness, you can pack your visit with a variety of outdoor recreational activities and choose from many different options.
Enjoy the Water
Port McNeill is an excellent jumping-off point for water sports and activities. Many anglers charter boats to reach the calm waters near the Broughton Archipelago, although you can also cast off from the shore at Ledge Point and Bere Point.
What’s the local catch like? You will hook mostly chinook, sockeye, and pink salmon, plus halibut and lingcod. The area is great for crabbing and prawning too, if you’re interested in more than just fishing. The diving scene is worth trying as well, thanks to a unique and diverse array of marine creatures for you to admire.
If you want to further explore the Vancouver Island coastline, you can kayak your way across shallow waters and into and around crannies and crevices, or you can venture out and enjoy the surrounding wonderland of the archipelagos. Are you pretty experienced with a canoe? Paddle out to the ocean or nearby rivers and lakes. Certain watersheds in Port McNeill also offer world-class windsurfing opportunities.
Soak in the Wildlife
Wildlife watching tours are “wildly” popular in Port McNeill. Don’t miss out on the chance to watch—and hear, via hydrophone—more than 200 humpback and minke whales plying the Southern Queen Charlotte Strait in summer. Resident orcas, or killer whales, can also be spotted traveling in pods of 20 or so. Catch sight of them as they surface in a mid-air dance. Some of the commercial tours that take you whale watching allow you to observe the area’s grizzly and black bears, too.
Sailing also gives you a front-row seat to watching the many porpoises and seals that call Port McNeill home. Are you a bird watcher? Expect to see bald eagles, great blue herons, black oystercatchers, great horned owls, short-eared owls, western sandpipers, and marbled murrelets.
Explore Wilderness Trails
On land, Port McNeill takes you on a wilderness adventure. Hiking and backpacking trails allow you to explore the region’s rainforests and beaches. If you want to keep it easy and short, there’s an accessible 4.2-kilometer trail in Marble River Provincial Park. For a bit of a challenge, traverse the 48-kilometer roundtrip trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Up for more? Put your hiking skills to test at the North Coast Trail extension.
Those who prefer more leisurely nature walks can head across the Strait to Malcolm Island. With just a few hills—and zero mountains and rivers—the area is perfect for a nice, easy stroll. You can also check out the array of flora at Shepherd’s Garden and follow the forested trail to Nimpkish Lake. Other must-sees include the picturesque Lady Ellen Point Trail and a protected salmon stream found along the Schoolhouse Creek Trail.
From fishing, diving, and kayaking to wildlife viewing and hiking, there is no shortage of ways to keep your visit exciting. Port McNeill is definitely a top-notch place for seeking out your next big eco-adventure.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Amazing Vancouver Island and a clickable link back to this page.