Logbook: Gwaii Haanas - Ending with “The Bad" and “The Ugly”

Strange to end our log of the park with a bunch of bays that I’m NOT going to post about in detail but here it is.

IMG_5784 (1280x853)Our experience in Gwaii Haanas was a mixed bag of being over and underwhelmed. I’ve posted about the “WOW” places and there are enough of those that I am very happy to have come. Our crossing of Hecate was magical and the highlights of this trip are the types of memories that I will carry for a lifetime, places that are unique to this area.

We came with an expectation of wild, natural beauty; For the most part we experienced second growth logged (?) islands and a startling lack of wildlife. No old growth forests, very few critters. We saw eagles and a handful of seals but very little above water life and with exceptions that I’ll write about separately we saw very little underwater life as well. We have seen many, many more animals in Desolation Sound and on the West Coast of Vancouver Island than we did here. We saw tons of marine mammals in Hecate Strait but not in Gwaii Haanas. Where were the lush forests? Where was the teeming life in the brochures and books?

The trip quickly became focused on a few must-do places and skipping everything in between…

…because most anchorages we visited here were blah. Who wants to cope with the colder wetter climate of the Haida Gwaii for blah anchorages? Nothing sucked per se, but without finding “the wild” that we had hoped for we started moving quickly, stopping only at locations that had something unique (Haida village sites, lush underwater life at Dolomite Narrows, hot springs).

Anchorages that were OK: Thurston, Kostan, Matheson.

Anchorages that were nice but not better than you would find around Vancouver Island: Island Bay, Murchison, Hoya Passage


  1. We JUST returned from Haida Gwaii (our 2nd visit) and our experience was just the opposite:

    - great anchorages (safe and empty)
    - decent weather (better than the south)with very little rain
    - TONS of wildlife (many bears, dolphins, lots of whales, uncountable deer, and
    - low low tide (1 ft) at Dolomite (Burnaby) Narrows showed remarkable diversity and quantity of sea life (plus one foraging bear on shore)

    Must be you guys went too early?

    One thing to note about the area that surprises people: South Moresby area was an exceptionally busy area in the late 1800s/early 1900s -- a lot of forestry, mining, canneries etc. Read about this in K. Dalzell's 2 great books on the Charlottes.

    Fair winds and enjoy the warm/hot weather to come

    SV Pelagia

  2. Hi,

    I am considering a trip to Haida Gwaii this summer.

    It would be incredibly helpful if both of you (Estellita and Pelagia) could be more specific in regards to the areas you visited. I am planning to stay within the Gwaii Hannas Park area the whole time except for provisioning.





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