This Canadian Archipelago Is the Galapagos of the North
When you think of the perfect island getaway, it’s perhaps understandable that the white sands and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean immediately spring to mind. While the Canadian archipelago Haida Gwaii doesn’t quite fit this description, it certainly falls under the category of a must-see.
The windswept set of islands is located 60 miles off the coast of British Columbia and consists of approximately 150 islands, including two main isles: Graham Island to the north and Moresby Island to the south. Its name, which translates to Islands of the People, was formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, named after Captain George Dixon’s ship in 1787. Haida Gwaii experienced its first European contact in 1774, and before that the indigenous community, known as the Haida, were the islands’ main inhabitants. It’s said that their culture can be traced back 13,000 years and is still very much ingrained in the island’s landscape and culture in the present day.
Today, Haida Gwaii is a mere two-hour flight from Vancouver, which makes it an ideal getaway for a long weekend or if you have a few spare days on your itinerary. We’ve rounded up some of our top reasons Haida Gwaii is our newest favorite set of islands:
Gwaii Haanas National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers 15 percent of the Queen Charlotte Islands. It's breathtakingly beautiful and made up of a diverse natural landscape of 40 freshwater lakes, rainforests and the San Christoval Mountains.
The islands are deeply rooted in Haida culture and art. There's evidence of them today with standing totem poles throughout the area.
The islands are surrounded by a marine conservation area. Sea lions, killer whales and porpoises are in abundance, along with seabird communities -- Gwaii Haanas sits along the Pacific flyway, so it's a key mirgant stopover.
Water activities. They’ve got ’em. (Stunning mountain backdrops included.*)
But really, the diverse and Instagram-worthy landscape is what will keep us coming back time and again.
Check out the brand new Ocean Club on Haida Gwaii. It's a floating, eco-cultural resort and 100% Haida owned to preserve its indigenous heritage.
Ashley Bess is an editor turned freelancer writer who describes herself as short, opinionated, recently repatriated, lover of gin and travel and with a head full of useless song lyrics and movie quotes.