Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Haida Gwaii

Separated from mainland Canada by the stormy Hecate Strait, the 150-island archipelago of Haida Gwaii is tough to reach but rich in rewards. Here’s how to visit.

Everything You Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Haida Gwaii

Murray Foubister/Flickr

An archipelago off the western coast of mainland Canada, Haida Gwaii is tough to reach but well worth the trip. Most of the population and activities are concentrated on the two largest islands: Graham in the north—home to Queen Charlotte, the principal city—and Moresby, the gateway to Gwaii Haanas National Park, in the south. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

How to get there

Haida Gwaii is accessible only by plane or ferry. The islands are most easily approached via a two-hour flight from Vancouver. (Air Canada is the only airline with connecting international flights.) You can also take the eight-hour ferry ride (cars allowed) from Prince Rupert, B.C., to Skidegate, a Haida village located five miles east of Queen Charlotte.

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Courtesy of Haida House

Where to stay

Haida House, a 10-room cedar lodge on the eastern coast of Graham emphasizes cultural tourism and serves food inspired by traditional Haida dishes (from $2,290 for a four-night minimum stay). Its new sister property, slated to open in May, is the Ocean House at Stads K’uns GawGa, a remote, fly-in lodge in the Peel Inlet on the Northwest side of Moresby Island with a focus on ecotourism (from $3,425 for a three-night minimum stay).

Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)...Graham Island...scenes around the Haida Heritage centre...the museum buildings...

Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)...Graham Island...scenes around the Haida Heritage centre...the museum buildings...

Murray Foubister/Flickr

What to do

Haida is dotted with small villages, each worthy of exploration. Learn about Haida specialties such as woodcarving and canoe making at the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate, dig into some of the island’s best local seafood (wild prawns, freshly caught halibut) at Charters Restaurant in Masset, or hike through mossy forests and across driftwood-strewn beaches in the coastal Naikoon Provincial Park.

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Courtesy of Charter Restaurant

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve—part national park, part marine conservation area, part Haida heritage site—is one of the archipelago’s biggest draws. A guided tour can help you get the most out of the park’s 1,930 square miles, which are filled with wildlife, including orcas and black bears, and home to ancient Haida village sites. Both Moresby Explorers and Haida Style Expeditions offer single and multiday tours of Gwaii Haanas and can arrange in-park accommodations and activities such as Zodiac excursions and meetings with Haida Watchmen.

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Dale Simonson/Flickr

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Born in Fargo and educated at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Miranda is now living and working in San Francisco, where she’s learning to rock climb and complain about 50-degree weather.