Haida Gwaii: Islands at the Edge of the World

© Chris Wheeler
Exploring Coast, Culture & Conservation on an Intimate Sailing Voyage
Perched on the outer edge of the continental shelf 60 miles off the northwest coast of Canada lies a place called Haida Gwaii: "Islands of the People" in the language of the ancestral Haida whose presence here spans millennia. Wild and windswept, this archipelago of more than 200 islands is one of the richest biological and cultural sites in North America. Its geographic isolation has allowed numerous unique species to evolve, earning it the name "Canada's Galapagos." Encounter the wonder and mystique of Haida Gwaii from a deluxe sailboat as we explore ancient temperate rainforest, a vibrant intertidal zone teeming with colorful sea creatures, and a human heritage that dates back 13,000 years. Wreathed in mist, old-growth cedars, Sitka spruce and western hemlocks pierce the silver underbelly of the clouds. Old totem poles also rise skyward from abandoned Haida villages now sinking into the moss, while new ones emerge from the hands of modern-day carvers. Sandy beaches edge rockbound shorelines where sea lions haul out and whales spout offshore. On this rare voyage of discovery, encounter a place that will move your spirit—a place called Haida Gwaii.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Martin Koelemay
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Nat Hab guests, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
S/V Island Solitude, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Bluewater Adventures (Local Operator provided image)
S/V Island Solitude, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Steller sea lions, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Steller sea lions, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guest kayaking, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Randy Burke
Nat Hab guest kayaking, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Orca pod, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Orca pod, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests, SGaang Gwaii, Ninstints, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Randy Burke
Nat Hab guests, SGaang Gwaii, Ninstints, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
S/V Island Solitude, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Martin Koelemay
S/V Island Solitude, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guest photographing totem poles, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Nat Hab guest photographing totem poles, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests aboard S/V Island Solitude, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Martin Koelemay
Nat Hab guests aboard S/V Island Solitude, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Humpback whale, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Humpback whale, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Cedar paddle carvings, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Rick Hulbert
Cedar paddle carvings, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests and totem poles, SGaang Gwaii, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Nat Hab guests and totem poles, SGaang Gwaii, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guest, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Martin Koelemay
Nat Hab guest, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Bald eagle, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Bald eagle, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
S/V Island Odyssey, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Bluewater Adventures (Local Operator provided image)
S/V Island Odyssey, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Lindsay Janes
Nat Hab guests, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Orcas, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Orcas, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Martin Koelemay
Nat Hab guests, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Nat Hab guests photographing whale, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Mark Hickey
Nat Hab guests photographing whale, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Whale tail, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Melissa Scott
Whale tail, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
Eddy Savage
Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

Trip Highlights

A Rare Journey Into Ancient Nature & Culture

Meet 13,000 years of Haida history and eons of natural evolution in an archipelago so isolated that it's home to numerous species and subspecies found nowhere else

Explore the Marine Wilderness Aboard a Deluxe Sailboat

Discover the wonders of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, a UNESCO World Heritage area protecting fragile ecological and cultural sites

Look for Abundant Wildlife at Sea & Ashore

Scout for abundant humpback whales, orcas, Steller sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, black bears, otters, and a kaleidoscope of marine life in some of world's richest intertidal zones

Photo Departure

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A Highly Personal Encounter with Haida Gwaii

Aboard our comfortably appointed sailboat, you'll have an experience of Haida Gwaii that's far more in-depth than you would get on land alone or via a brief cruise ship call. And in such a small group, you'll experience silence and solitude you won't find aboard a larger ship. Discover why Nat Hab offers the most meaningful way to visit Haida Gwaii.

  1. A Private Chartered Sailboat for Solitude & Flexibility
    We charter a deluxe custom-designed sailboat, stopping each night at a different secluded anchorage surrounded by untouched wilderness. Most visitors to Haida Gwaii are based on land or see the islands briefly from a larger ferry or ship, which doesn't offer as quiet and rich an encounter. Depending on tides, weather and location of wildlife, each day presents a choice of hidden coves and rainforest trails to explore.
  2. A Remote & Immersive Itinerary with Eight Nights Aboard 
    Most people who come to Haida Gwaii make a short stop, spending a couple of nights, perhaps taking a day cruise on a sightseeing boat, or making a brief port of call from a ship. In contrast, we spend over a week on board our chartered sailboat, focusing our time on the remote reaches of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Area, the southern sector of the islands that's only accessible by boat or floatplane.
  3. A Small Group Ensures Intimate Encounters with Nature
    Enjoy the camaraderie you'll find aboard our sailing yacht, which hosts a maximum of 12 guests. In this small-scale setting, you'll get the full attention of our Expedition Leader, skipper and vessel staff, and, most importantly, quieter and more personal nature experiences.
  4. Explore Up Close by Zodiac and Kayak
    On daily excursions by Zodiac and kayak, cruise and paddle in peaceful inlets with no other visitors in sight, with an eye-level view on swimming seals, feeding whales, colorful intertidal life, and other wild creatures. 
  5. Learn from Expert Naturalist Guides
    Our naturalist Expedition Leader provides in-depth interpretation of Haida Gwaii's rich natural and cultural history, while the yacht's captain and crew are deeply familiar with the fjords and forests of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and adept at spotting wildlife. See Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
  6. A Focus on Haida Culture & Conservation
    The Haida people have lived on these islands for millennia, with one of the world's oldest traceable histories, dating back approximately 13,000 years. Hear from local residents as we learn about Haida culture past and present, including their continuing traditions, efforts to reclaim sovereignty over unceded lands, and an enduring commitment to conservation and sustainability. Watch pole carvers and artists at work at the Haida Heritage Center, enjoy a Haida-hosted lunch of local specialties, and meet Haida Watchmen who stand guard over ancient cultural sites, offering interpretation for visitors and protecting them for future generations.
  7. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of SGang Gwaay
    See the remains of large cedar longhouses, together with carved mortuary and memorial poles at the village of SGang Gwaay Llnagaay (formerly Ninstints), which illustrate the art and way of life of the Haida. The property commemorates the living culture of the Haida and their relationship with the land and sea and offers a visual key to their oral traditions. The village was occupied until shortly after 1880. What survives is unique in the world, a 19th-century Haida village where the well-preserved ruins illustrate the power and artistry of Haida society.
  8. Our Quality–Value Guarantee Ensures Your Outstanding Adventure
    Natural Habitat Adventures offers an exclusive guarantee, which clearly states that we will meet the lofty expectations we set forth in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
  9. Feel Good About Your Carbon-Neutral Journey
    We care deeply about our planet, as we know you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset—including your round-trip flights from home. Natural Habitat Adventures has been the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company since 2007.
  10. Natural Habitat Adventures is WWF's Travel Partner
    Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our adventures, World Wildlife Fund—the world's leading environmental conservation organization—has named Natural Habitat Adventures as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!

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