Guests view some of the abundant whales in Gwaii Haanas aboard the SV Maple Leaf on a trip in Haida Gwaii.

Outside Magazine Recognizes Maple Leaf Adventures and Haida Gwaii in Its 2013 Active Travel Awards

VICTORIA, BC – March 12, 2013 – “This is wild heaven.” With that description, the editors of Outside magazine, one of the world’s biggest travel and lifestyle magazines, have given Haida Gwaii the “Best Islands” designation in the magazine’s 2013 Active Travel Awards. And Canada’s Maple Leaf Adventures, also a winner of a 2013 Outside travel award for its 9-day expedition cruise in Haida Gwaii, is pleased to have helped educate Outside about this renowned destination.

“We spent quite a bit of time corresponding with Outside’s journalist this fall,” says Kevin Smith, president of Maple Leaf Adventures. “We are convinced that Haida Gwaii is one of the world’s greatest places. We are thrilled Outside thought so, too. They gave Haida Gwaii the “Best Islands” award …even beating well-known places like St. Lucia.”

SGang Gwaay ("Nintints") the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gwaii Haanas

Many Canadians feel the call of Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of islands off the BC coast, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands. The ancient rainforest was famously protected in the 1980s in Gwaii Haanas, the protected southern third of the islands. The marine life is astonishingly rich, with several species of whales, many marine mammals, and over a million seabirds feeding off tons of fish and krill. It’s known as the Canadian Galapagos. And, if that weren’t enough, the unoccupied Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas, with their original monumental poles and houses still in place, are the best example of northwest coast First Nations villages in existence, while modern Haida culture thrives in the north.

But outside Canada, the place is little-known. “This year we unearthed a handful of amazing new frontiers in active travel,” says editor Christopher Keyes from the American magazine.

Beach fire in the wilderness, with the schooner Maple Leaf anchored in the bay, Gwaii Haanas (Haida Gwaii)

It’s a great opportunity for Canada, since experiences like the natural and cultural history of Haida Gwaii are what differentiate our country in the world as a spectacular place to holiday. Because of this, the Canadian Tourism Commission recently named Maple Leaf Adventures’ expedition cruises there one of the “Signature Experiences” of Canada.

“The team at Maple Leaf Adventures are great ambassadors for our industry and we’re proud to showcase the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) Tour in our international marketing as a member of Canada’s Signature Experiences Collection,” said Greg Klassen, the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Senior Vice President, Marketing Strategy and Communications. “We know this kind of unique experience is what captures the imagination of travellers and makes them want to explore Canada.”
Ecotourism is also a key element of the Haida Gwaii economy, with Gwaii Haanas drawing individual adventurers and guests on guided trips by kayak, seaplane or expedition cruises by sailing ship, like Maple Leaf Adventures’.  The designation is sure to give the sector a boost.

The schooner Maple Leaf in Gwaii Haanas

“Thank you to Outside Magazine and Maple Leaf Adventures for acknowledging Haida Gwaii and Gwaii Haanas as among the worlds’ best islands destinations and for helping to inspire visitors to come and experience the rugged beauty and rich natural and cultural heritage of Gwaii Haanas” said Ernie Gladstone, Field Unit Superintendant, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site.  “Travelling with a licensed tour operator like Maple Leaf Adventures offers great added value for visitors looking for guidance and expertise during their Gwaii Haanas wilderness experience.”

Maple Leaf Adventure’s expedition cruises in Haida Gwaii include sailing the 138 islands of Gwaii Haanas with an expert crew and naturalist aboard the 92-foot schooner Maple Leaf. Highlights include shore trips to explore the rainforest and beaches, wildlife viewing, and visits to Haida cultural sites including UN World Heritage Site SGang Gwaay. 2013 and 2014 departures are nine days and run May to July, starting at $4750 per person all inclusive. For more information, visit or call +1-250-386-7245.

About Maple Leaf Adventures

The ship's chef prepares fabulous food from scratch to fit guests' dietary needs, aboard the SV Maple Leaf in Haida Gwaii

Selected for Canada’s “Signature Experiences Collection” by the Canadian Tourism Commission, Maple Leaf Adventures has provided conservation travel experiences aboard a classic sailing ship since 1986. With a reputation as one of Canada’s top sustainable tour operators, its multi-day excursions give guests one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the most beautiful and rare places in the world, often in areas that were once under threat of destruction or in dire need of protection. In 2012, Maple Leaf was awarded the Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award, for promoting the appreciation of Canada’s natural, cultural and aesthetic heritage, while also protecting them. As a long time practitioner of ecotourism, Maple Leaf Adventures pioneered travel in BC’s Great Bear Rainforest and northwestern Vancouver Island and has made significant contributions to conservation. National Geographic Adventure has rated Maple Leaf Adventures one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”. For more information, visit


Sample Tweet: Reaching “wild heaven”: Outside Active Travel Awards recognize #HaidaGwaii and @MapleLeafAdvent expedition cruises.

Note to editors: High resolution images available upon request

Media Contacts:

Maureen Gordon, Maple Leaf Adventures: 250 386-7245, 250-881-6143 (cell) or

Deirdre Campbell, Tartan Group: 250-592-3838, 250-882-9199 (cell) or

NB – The Outside article refers to Maple Leaf Adventures Haida Gwaii trip as “Sailing the Hecate Strait“. To clarify, the trip is:

  • a 9-day exploration of Haida Gwaii
  • Including 1.5 days in the north on Graham Island with local residents.
  • An 8-day cruise in Gwaii Haanas,  the spectacular protected southern third of the archipelago
  • Sailing the islands
  • Viewing marine mammals including whales and sea lions
  • Exploring the rich intertidal life at the beaches’ edge
  • Walking the ancient rainforest
  • Visiting monumental Haida village sites including UN World Heritage Site SGang Gwaay
  • Beach fires on remote beaches
  • Gourmet food, expert naturalist and the camaraderie that comes from sailing aboard a classic schooner.