Story by Michelle Coats, Pictures by Rolf Hicker
Northern Vancouver Island speaks of sparkling clear waterways, abundant species of wildlife, scenic vistas, and First Nations culture. With a backdrop of coastal mountains, brilliant blue waters, forested shorelines, and wildlife to boot, Northern Vancouver Island provides an excellent arena for leisure activities.
Johnstone Strait is situated on the northeast corner of Vancouver Island and is known as one of the best places in the world for whale watching - particularly killer whales. The abundant food supply carried in on the currents of these waters attract many species of marine mammals including killer whales, humpback whales, pacific white sided dolphins, dall's porpoises, Stellar's Sea Lions, and much more.
The Robson Bight Ecological Reserve is also found in Johnstone Strait and was formed to protect killer whale habitat, an estuary, and the forested shorelines within its boundaries. The northern resident killer whales often return to the reserve to feed, and to rub on the smooth, round rocks found in the shallows of the ocean floor.
The Broughton Archipelago, a Marine Provincial Park containing a collection of dozens of undeveloped islands and islets situated at the mouth of Knight Inlet, offers excellent kayaking in sheltered waters, camping with scenic views and wildlife watching from shore, whale watching, boating with great anchorages available, and fishing.
Port McNeill is considered the gateway to the Broughton Archipelago, offering a wide range of services and accommodation for visitors about to embark on or return from a tour. Deer can often be seen grazing on the sides of the road in town, and black bears walk the beach lifting rocks in their search for food - Port McNeill is a real wilderness community and the ideal compliment to a well rounded Northern Vancouver Island experience.
The area is rich with First Nations culture and heritage and evidence of first nations habitation can be seen in the form of petroglyphs etched onto rock walls. The village of Alert Bay on Cormorant Island is primarily a First Nations village with totem pole stands including the tallest totem pole in the world, and U'mista Cultural Centre.
If you looking for accommodation on the northern part of the island, we recommend this new bed and breakfast with a beautiful ocean view near Port McNeill/Telegraph Cove.