Spring in the Great Bear Rainforest

Islands, Otters, Bears, and Ancient Forests

Off Central and Northern British Columbia lies a vast coastal wilderness dominated by ancient rainforests, glacier-scoured fjords, and a unique ocean ecosystem teeming with life – the Great Bear Sea.

Our Islands, Otters, Bears, and Ancient Forests expedition takes us into the southern end of the world-renowned Great Bear Rainforest. These are rich waters that offer some of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities in Canada – from bubble-net feeding humpback whales and massive fin whales to roaming pods of orcas, Pacific white-sided dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and sea otters.

Under the distant gaze of the snow-capped coastal mountain ranges, we’ll explore island archipelagos, dramatic rocky shores, current-swept passages, kelp forests, and white-sand beaches. On shore excursions and inflatable boat tours, we’ll be able to get up close with brilliantly coloured tide pool creatures while looking for chance encounters with sleepy grizzly bears emerging from their dens, reclusive sea wolves, and rare migratory bird species.

Our spring expedition includes a stop at the Hakai Research Institute where we’ll meet researchers studying whales and other coastal wildlife. We’ll also visit several coastal First Nations communities where we’ll learn about the cultural histories of this remote region and meet the people who call it home today. We hope you’ll join us!

“Spring 2017 is the first year we will have been able to take our guests to this wonderful region of the Great Bear, at this spectacular time of year. Guests and crew alike are in for an impressive adventure!”

 Russell Markel, President, Outer Shores

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Outer Shores is a proud member of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia and our crew are certified bear-viewing guides.

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View and learn about recovering otter populations and their amazing effects on kelp ecosystems

Observe bears grazing on estuary grasses, sedges, lilies, and other estuarine plants

Enjoy sailing, kayaking, inflatable boat excursions, beach explorations, interpretive forest walks, cultural heritage, diverse wildlife, whale-watching, and bear viewing

Itinerary Overview

DAYS 13: Bella Bella, McMullin Group, Sea Otters, and Sailing

Our expedition begins in the Heiltsuk First Nation community of Bella Bella. Upon departure, we’re on the lookout for our first wildlife sightings, such as humpback whales, sea otters, elephant seals, and killer whales. We’ll visit the McMullin Group, a small group of islets studded with white-sand beaches and surrounded by kelp forests, home to a recovering population of sea otters. Weather permitting, we’ll sail across Queens Sound this morning to the Goose Group Islands and explore the gorgeous white-sand beaches of this magical place. We’ll be on the lookout for humpback whales and other marine mammals as we cross the sound. Remarkably, wolves are occasionally sighted on this small group of outer coast islands.

DAYS 46: Hakai Institute, Bog Walk, Coastal Estuaries, Grizzly Bears

We plan to visit the Hakai Institute Calvert Island Field Station, situated in the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy, the largest marine conservancy on the BC Coast. After we learn about some of the incredible research being conducted here, we’ll explore spectacular West Beach and hike the boardwalk trail through coastal rainforest and bog up to the lookout for a stunning view of the area. Our expedition shifts gears now as we move from the outer coast to inland fjords, estuaries, and forests. Coastal estuarine plants – lupins, asters, lilies – are in full bloom at this time of year. We’ll explore a magnificent estuary this morning and look for the coastal grizzlies that come here to graze on grasses, sedges, rice root, and other plants. We’ll encounter and learn about the ancient stone fish traps that are found throughout this region, built by the Heiltsuk people thousands of years ago. Our Expedition Specialist will teach us about the biology, ecology, and conservation of the bears and wolves of the Great Bear Rainforest. We’ll also learn how bears, wolves, and other consumers supercharge ancient rainforests by moving salmon and herring into these coastal jungles.

DAYS 78: Ancient Pictographs, First Nations, Bella Bella

As we navigate Troup Passage, we’ll see ancient pictographs, highlighting for us the fact that the indigenous Heiltsuk people have lived here for more than 13,000 years. We’ll discuss the Heiltsuk’s deep history and close connections with all the places and ecosystems we have visited over the past week. Nearing the end of our journey, we’ll reflect on all our experiences here in the Great Bear Rainforest, and give thanks to those who have worked so hard to protect it. On our final morning, as we travel the short distance to Bella Bella, we’ll hope for some last-minute wildlife sightings. Upon arrival, we say farewell to our shipmates and new friends before disembarking and heading to the Bella Bella Airport for flights to Vancouver and beyond.

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Departs From/ Returns To

Bella Bella, British Columbia

Cruise Distances

150 nautical miles (~275 km), or 25 nm (~46 km)/day


8 days / 7 nights

Physical Requirements


Expedition Dates and Availability

May 2018  •  8-days / 7-nights  •  6 guests  •  $5,250 CAD/Person


May 5 – 12


$5,250 CAD


6 Spaces 


Bella Bella, BC


May 13 – 20


$5,250 CAD


4 Spaces 


Bella Bella, BC

Our prices are based on double occupancy, quoted in Canadian dollars, and subject to 5% Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST). All payments must be made in Canadian dollars, by cheque or credit card. All prices are subject to change without notice.

Check out what our guests have to say about this expedition!

I  couldn’t have gone on a better holiday than the cruise of the  Passing  Cloud around some of the island in the Great Bear Rainforest.  I was awed by the beauty of the meadows and moss-covered trees framed by the mountains.  And I was surprised by the variety of wildlife we saw including large numbers of dolphins and sea otters.  The crew was  the best– friendly and willing to share their knowledge.  They even slowed down for every great  “photo op”.   You have the right formula for a perfect cruise.  Keep it!

— Marian, Vancouver, BC

“Each spring we travel through the Great Bear Rainforest on route to Haida Gwaii, and each year we find ourselves wishing we were able to bring our guests to this spectacular region, at this wonderful time of year. Finally, this spring of 2017 we are excited to be doing just that. We hope you’ll join us!”

— Russell Markel, President, Outer Shores

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