Discover the North Island

Discover the North Island

Explore an array of year-round adventures on northern Vancouver Island

The North Island region features a collection of communities on northern Vancouver Island, including Port Hardy, a bustling town of about 5,000, Port McNeill, a little farther south, Port Alice, Alert Bay, Sointula and Telegraph Cove.

Renowned for year-round adventures, Port Hardy is your base for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, including guided hiking, kayaking and caving tours. Hike the North Coast Trail or take a leisurely stroll on Storey’s Beach.

Fishing is always popular and marine life, water clarity and tidal action also attract divers. Explore local wildlife by going bear, bird or whale watching.

In town, the Port Hardy Museum explores both European and First Nations history while the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre, open mid-May through September, is dedicated to salmon conservation and education.

In the area of Fort Rupert features First Nations artists at the Copper Maker Gallery. Holberg is known for beautiful Ronning Gardens and the Shoe Tree, a cedar snag covered in shoes, and is also the starting point for Cape Scott Park adventures. Winter Harbour is a tiny settlement with a boardwalk waterfront and great fishing charters.

Tucked into the forest and overlooking beautiful Broughton Strait, friendly Port McNeill is the hub of the North Island logging industry and an ideal base for outdoor adventures.

Get a feel for the region at the Port McNeill Museum or stroll the 1.5-hectare Shephard’s Garden. Fishing is superb here, as freshwater streams abound with trout and steelhead and offshore waters are famous for salmon, halibut, cod and snapper. Try a heli-fishing trip to the remote wilderness or a wildlife-watching excursion by land or by boat – another of Port McNeill’s most popular activities, along with kayaking, golfing, diving, caving, wind surfing, cultural tours and forestry tours.

BC Ferries connects Port McNeill with island communities of Alert Bay and Sointula.

Sointula, founded more than a century ago by Finnish settlers, has retained much of its Finnish flavour and the museum is the best place to explore Sointula’s past. Visit local art studios and galleries, or take in natural amenities including Lions Harbour, a popular boating stop. Choose from a variety of accommodations.

Alert Bay on Cormorant Island is rich with First Nations culture. Visit the renowned U’mista Cultural Centre, with its display of the repatriated Potlatch Collection and exhibits exploring the fascinating traditions of the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Alert Bay Library-Museum, with a variety of artifacts and photographs.

The ‘Namgis Burial Grounds, easily viewed from the roadside as entry to the site is not permitted, is another must-see historic site, along with the world’s tallest totem pole. Stop by the Visitor Centre for a brochure highlighting the many totem poles around the Island. The traditional ‘Namgis Big House can be viewed from the outside only, unless you’re visiting during July and August when the T’sasała Cultural group dances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Founded in 1912 as a one-room telegraph station, Telegraph Cove is today an acclaimed fishing and adventure destination, calling kayakers, divers, fishers, boaters and bird, bear and whale-watchers.

Most of the community’s buildings are perched over the water on pilings. Wander the boardwalks to watch the fishing vessels, yachts and whale watching boats enter the cove. Rent a kayak for your own adventures or book a whale- or wildlife-watching excursion. On shore, be sure to visit the Whale Interpretive Centre, a marine mammal education centre open mid-May to October.

Several accommodation options are available, along with dining, supplies and various adventure packages.


  • Known as the oldest known site of human habitation on Vancouver Island
  • A dig at Beaver Cover uncovered evidence dating back to circa 5850 BCE
  • The northernmost point of the Vancouver Island Highway Highway 19 and is marked by a monument of a wooden carrot in Carrot Park.
  • Port Hardy offers the opportunity to take a floatplane to the Great Bear Rainforest where the world’s only white spirit bear lives
  • World-famous for the best cold-water diving experiences.


Port Hardy’s proximity to the ocean gives it a mild and temperate climate with cool summers and common rainfall throughout the year.

Getting here

Ferry: BC Ferries offers services from the Vancouver area of Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo at Duke Point. From Nanaimo take Highway 19 north to Port Hardy.

Vehicle: From Victoria take BC-19 N to Port Hardy this about a five and a half-hour drive. From Nanaimo take BC-19 N to Port Hardy which is nearly a four-hour drive.

Bus: Tofino bus operates between the Vancouver Island North region and the rest of Vancouver Island

Flying: The Port Hardy Airport is located 10 km east of Port Hardy’s downtown. Pacific Coastal Airlines also offers seaplanes from Vancouver to Port Hardy.

For more visit WestCoastTraveller or North Island Gazette

BoatingBritish ColumbiaCanadafishingHikingPaddlingThings to dotravelvancouverisland


Discover the North Island

Just Posted

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Blueprints for the seniors housing project in Port Hardy. (North Island Seniors Housing Foundation photo)
BC Housing declines North Island Seniors Housing Foundation’s proposal to build units

BC Housing will be explaining why exactly the project was declined at a June 18 meeting

An aerial view of the marine oil-spill near Bligh Island in Nootka sound that the Canadian Coast Guard posted in a live social media feed in December. ( Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)
Oil from vessel that sank in 1968 off Vancouver Island to be removed

DFO hires Florida firm to carefully remove oil from MV Schiedyk in Nootka Sound starting in mid-June

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read