Arriving via a scenic 40-minute ferry ride from Port McNeill, visitors will experience a rare, precious and utterly unique First Nation Cultural tourism destination.
Alert Bay is said to be the last authentic fishing village on Canada’s west coast.
Alert Bay offers visitors “down home” restaurants, art galleries, museums, a bustling marina, friendly locals and cozy accommodations set within an unparalleled Northern Pacific wilderness environment. The small town centre, with its colorful heritage buildings dating back to 1870, sits on the sheltered western coastline of Cormorant Island. ‘Yalis is home to the ‘Namgis of the Kwakwaka’wakw.
U’mista Cultural Centre, an internationally-renowned cultural centre and museum, showcases the famed “Potlatch Collection” of ceremonial regalia, confiscated from the Kwakwaka’wakw in 1922 and reclaimed from various institutions and private collections around the world. U’mista is the starting point for a remarkable First Nation experience.
Home to the world’s tallest totem pole, carved in two sections by six Kwakwaka’wakw artists, it was originally 53m/173 feet, but during a storm in 2007, the top 10 feet of the pole fell to the ground. Watch traditional dance performances by the T’sasala Cultural Group in the traditional Big House. Visit the ‘Namgis Burial Ground to see memorial and other totem poles (please view respectfully from the road only). Join in unique adventures such as canoe trips, salmon barbecues and Island tours provided by local guides.
Cormorant Island has more than 10 km (6 miles) of hiking and biking trails. The Ecological Park above town features a boardwalk through marshland as well as an easy forest trail network marked with interpretive signage. Embark on a whale-watching expedition or spot marine wildlife from land. Steep climbs may make parts of the island a challenge, so it is recommended that visitors bring their vehicles.