4-day Whales & Wilderness Glamping & Kayaking

Adventure Tour

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    This tour is provided by

    Spirit of the West Adventures

    Our guides are top-notch, our base crew incredibly talented and dedicated and we all work together to make your experience as superb as possible. Our kayak guides not only hold certifications from the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC, wilderness first aid and a variety of other specialties, but they are full of fun, experience and knowledge.

    • Duration:4 Days
    • For:Everyone, focus on whales and diverse paddling
    • Location:Blackfish Sound, British Columbia

    Imagine beautiful, big white tents set against the backdrop of towering fir trees and the blues and greens of the ocean lapping at your doorstep. The sounds of silence, interrupted only by the occasional blow of passing whales or the songs of the birds as they wake with the sun. Extraordinary kayaking at the edge of the Broughton Archipelago. Exclusive boat access to our private Swanson Island location. After nearly two years of work we are happy to share this new glamping whale watching experience with you.

    The Area 

    Blackfish Sound (named for the distinctive black and white coloration of the killer whales that ply these waters) is the heart of orca and humpback territory on northern Vancouver Island and on the edge of the Broughton Archipelago. Sandwiched between the mainland mountains and Vancouver Island, tidal currents stir up the water column and create an environment rich with nutrients and oxygen. Abundant marine life of all shapes and sizes make their home here, from the smallest crustacean to the largest whales. From our camp, we have the opportunity to look out into the open waters of the Sound and paddle among the small islands and narrow passages, an ideal combination for the wildlife enthusiast.


    • Best area for viewing orcas and humpbacks in the wild
    • Exclusive boat access-only camp on a private island
    • Explore the coastal environment by kayak with our wonderful guides
    • Large bright spacious tents, comfortable beds, warm duvets & private toilets
    • Hot tub overlooking the ocean
    • Hot shower with ocean views
    • Gourmet camp food prepared for you, with a focus on local and organic
    • Attention given to the smallest details to make for the perfect trip
    • Responsible ecotourism, sustainably run for the long-term

    The Tour

    This 4-day tour is really the premier way to experience the best of what Canada’s west coast has to offer. Travel by boat to our exclusive camp, kayak each day to experience the coastal beauty up close and get out there with a motorized whale watching tour to help ensure wildlife sightings. Each day your hosts and guides will share their love and passion for the coast and kayaking with you. After a hearty and healthy breakfast (and of course hot coffee and tea), we head off in our kayaks to explore the many nooks and crannies of the shoreline. Keep your senses alert for the tell-tale blow of some of the area’s more famous residents like orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins and porpoise. Top off these perfect days in an idyllic setting with amazing food, laughter, good company and a soak in the wood-fired hot tub over-looking the ocean. Then head off to your spacious tent and comfortable bed for a good night’s rest. Of course, you can always roast a few treats over the glowing campfire before you head to bed, borrow a book from our extensive coastal library, play a board game with friends or chat with our friendly, knowledgeable naturalist guides too.

    Amazing Glamping Experience

    Tents are large 10×12′ (3×3.6m), bright and spacious cotton canvas tents made here on Vancouver Island. They are 8′ (2.4m) high at the peak so have ample room for standing up and moving around with ease. The screened windows and front door provide sweeping views of the forest and/or ocean. The tents are perched off the ground on cedar platforms, helping to protect the delicate ecosystem below. Inside your tents are 2 twin beds which can be pushed together to make a king size if desired. These beds are handmade by our wonderful crew with locally milled red cedar and beach driftwood accents. The beds each have a 6-inch thick soya foam mattress, 2 pillows (one soft and one firm to ensure a good night’s sleep), crisp white linens, a warm duvet and fleece blankets for those cooler nights. Bedside tables, crafted from local wood, hold a lamp for reading and a hot water bottle to help take the chill off when you crawl into your bed to dream about what’s in store for the morning.

    The Best Place for Whale Watching in British Columbia

    In addition to orcas, we are lucky to share the ecosystem with humpback whales, black bears (it is not uncommon to see black bears foraging along the shores for seafood during low tide), deer, cougars, shore and seabirds, minks, river otters, dolphins and porpoise – to say nothing of the abundant, vibrant and colourful inter-tidal life one can see below the surface. Witnessing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat is truly breathtaking. Our camp is situated in arguably one of the best areas for viewing whales on the coast.  The humpback whales in all their glory are coming back to this area in truly impressive numbers after having been subject to intense hunting in years past. The population of humpback whales in the area now means that we are fortunate to view these gentle giants almost every tour (we never like to guarantee wildlife, as it is just that wild, but chances are good).

    What’s Cooking? Our Delicious Wilderness Cuisine

    We just have to mention it. One of the perks that come with the glamping site is a well-established kitchen for our fantastic chefs to prepare your food! We use mostly organic fresh fruits and vegetables to prepare gourmet meals, topped off with home baking. We also provide 24-hour snacks just in case you get a hankering for something late at night. It is a Spirit of the West Adventures guarantee that you will never go hungry, even after a day’s paddle in the fresh air. On the first evening we feature a traditional wild fish barbecue and from here the creative, tasty and hearty meals keep coming. This is not your typical camping food! Selected local BC and Chilean wines (4 bottles per night to share for all guests) are served with appetizers and dinner.

    Price Includes

    • Professional guiding service
    • All kayaking equipment (including kayaks, PFDs, paddles, pumps, ropes and sponges)
    • Hydrophone for listening to the whales
    • All meals including selected Chilean and BC local wine, snacks and, non-alcoholic beverages (coffee, tea, juices, water) during your tour prepared by our crew
    • Everything you need for the perfect glamping experienceWalk-in canvas tents on wooden platforms with private toilets, real beds (2 twin or 1 king size, thick soy foam mattresses, warm blankets, 2 pillows, linens), bath towel, flashlights/headlamps, hot water bottle, library of natural history books, camp binoculars
    • Return water taxi service to and from camp
    • Park and land use permits

    Price Excludes

    • Accommodation before or after the kayaking portion of your trip
    • Flights, airport transfers, ferries, taxis
    • Travel/medical insurance
    • Alcoholic or carbonated beverages
    • Rain gearRain gear may be rented if you prefer not to travel with it (please reserve in advance; may be booked online with your trip reservation)
    • Personal items (toiletries, clothing, etc.)
    Our adventure begins the moment we step off the docks onto our high-speed water taxi. Relax in comfort as we whisk you through the scenic waterways of Johnstone Strait to our remote wilderness glamping site on private Swanson Island in the heart of Blackfish Sound.

    Meeting LocationTelegraph Cove, Marina Fuel Dock at 3pm (Day 1)

    You will meet your guides in Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. (An approx. 5.5-hour drive by car north of Victoria or 4 hours north of Nanaimo.) 

    Day 1

    Rise and shine ready for adventure! We suggest spending part of your day in Telegraph Cove exploring this historic village. Telegraph Cove is home to a restaurant, cafe, and a small general store if you wish to enjoy a meal on the boardwalk. Start your trip with a visit trip to the Johnstone Strait Killer Whale Interpretative Centre. A visit to this centre is the perfect primer for your kayaking adventure, with impressive displays of full-sized whale skeletons, interpretative information about the area. Spirit of the West will cover your admission fee.

    At 3 pm meet your water taxi at the end of the boardwalk by the fuel dock. After a safety briefing, our captain James takes us across Johnstone Strait into Blackfish Sound. En route, sightings of marine life such as porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, and whales are common. Your water taxi journey will be approx. 40 minutes. 

    After arriving our team will provide a thorough safety briefing and orientation. We will then settle into the camp and have dinner followed by a kayak orientation and set off on a post-dinner paddle. Enjoy the sunset from the lounge or hot tub overlooking the ocean before retiring to rest for more explorations in the morning.

    Days 2 & 3

    After a hearty camp breakfast, we will meet to discuss our plans for the day. Our route and schedule will depend on weather conditions, wildlife viewing opportunities, and group preferences. Generally, we set out in our kayaks after breakfast and paddle to one of the area’s many pocket beaches for a picnic lunch before paddling ‘home’ again in time for some relaxation time before dinner. There is always something to see and learn around the camp. On our way, we’ll take breaks for stretching and snacks, and we always take lots of time to explore the intricate shoreline, rich intertidal world, and marine and land-based wildlife.

    Day 4

    This is our last day of exploration. For those that are keen we will have an early morning paddle returning to camp for brunch and to pack up our things and soak up the last bit of tranquility before the water taxi arrives between 12-12:30 to transport you back to the starting point. You should be back in Telegraph Cove by approx. 12 pm for your onward travels or to explore more of what North Vancouver Island has to offer.

    ReturnTelegraph Cove, by approx 12pm (Day 4)

    Return time can depend on weather and travel conditions. We try our best to get you back on time for your onward travels or to explore more of what Vancouver Island has to offer.