Gwaii Haanas

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site

Protected from mountain top to sea floor, this unique Reserve is like no other in the world.

Gwaii Haanas means “Islands of Beauty”

Gwaii Haanas is a protected archipelago of over one hundred islands off Canada’s west coast. It is renowned for ancient forests, rich marine life, and the spectacular art of the Haida People.

In 1993 The Council of the Haida Nation and The Government of Canada signed the Gwaii Haanas Agreement in a mutual commitment to “protect the region’s natural, cultural, and marine treasures”.

It was the culmination of years of effort by residents and people across Canada to stop the clearcut logging of these steep, wild islands.

By 2010 the Gwaii Haanas marine area was also given official designation as a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve. People travel from all over the world now to see it.

Where is Gwaii Haanas?

Haida Gwaii’s Southern Islands. Off the west coast of British Columbia on the edge of the continental shelf lies a string of islands named Haida Gwaii. They are commonly referred to as the “Galapagos of the North”.

Gwaii Haanas is located on the southern end of Haida Gwaii, briefly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Approximately 1,500 km2 of land including the southern end of Moresby Island and over 200 smaller islands make up Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

With 1,700 km of shoreline within the park there is endless area to explore the interface between land and sea.

When people picture visiting Haida Gwaii, it’s this part, with its unroaded
rainforest and legendary Haida village sites, that they picture. To experience it, you have to travel by water.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Having occupied Haida Gwaii since time immemorial, the Haida people hold a respect for the land and sea that recognizes their responsibility to their traditional territory. The Haida strive to ensure that their heritage is both protected and passed on through generations.

Ancient traditions can be seen in ancient village sites here, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site SG̱ang Gwaay.

Monumental Haida poles (including memorial poles for those lost, and mortuary poles for chiefs) remain standing at the edge of the forest, awaiting the time when the moss, ferns, and trees will return them back to the earth.

Through the creation of the Haida Heritage Site and the designation of SG̱ang Gwaay as a UNESCO World Heritage Site Haida culture has been given nationwide and worldwide recognition and protection.


Just a few small expedition boats explore the Haida world each year: the rainforest and ocean life, and culture past and present.

Unparalleled Culture

Gwaii Haanas unravels over 12,500 years of human history, with archaeological evidence revealing an intrinsic relationship between people and place.

Ecological Wonders

The abrupt transition from the upthrust islands to the deep ocean abyss creates “ecological edges,” fostering remarkable biological richness, including magnificent old-growth and vibrant kelp forests.

Ancient Village Sites

Witness the remnants of Haida longhouses at T’aanuu Llnagaay, Ḵ’uuna Llnagaay, and SG̱ang Gwaay, lay witness to monumental poles carved by the Haida clans.

Tour Gwaii Haanas

Ecological & Wildlife Exploration

Rich in both culture and ecology, Gwaii Haanas offers the ideal place for exploration, learning, and discovery.

Galapagos of the North

Discover the ecological wonders of Gwaii Haanas, shaped by its unique island geography and ocean currents.

Seabird Sanctuary

Embark on a seabird paradise along the Pacific Flyway. Gwaii Haanas hosts half of Haida Gwaii’s 1.5 million nesting seabirds, including the Horned Puffin, Albatross, and Pigeon Guillemots.

Marine Marvels

Dive into the rich marine life surrounding Gwaii Haanas. This remote National Park Reserve promises an unforgettable encounter with Humpback Whales, Orcas, and more.

Island Biogeography

Uncover the ecological distinctiveness of Gwaii Haanas. Explore with naturalist guides how its isolated location has spurred unique adaptations in species, including a sub-species of Black Bear.

Our Connections

Gwaii Haanas is managed jointly by both the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada. Parks Canada works together with the Haida Gwaii Watchmen to look after the important cultural sites throughout Gwaii Haanas National Park.

Remote & Special Access

Gwaii Haanas Today, Management, Park Status, And Haida Watchmen

Access to this remote paradise is limited. Special access and permission must be granted in order to enter the National Park Reserve.

Maple Leaf Adventures, our boutique expedition cruise company, holds special permits to take guests into Gwaii Haanas and to the cultural heritage sites.
As our guest, you travel in an environmentally sustainable manner, aboard a classic schooner, as we cruise the 138 islands in comfort.

We anchor and go ashore each day, observe wildlife with expert guides and naturalist, and visit the Haida sites with Haida guides.

Our trips into the National Park make this exceptionally challenging destination much more accessible to those who wish to explore.

The Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program, managed by the Haida Nation, preserves cultural sites. From May to October, these watchmen offer a firsthand introduction to Haida culture, sharing stories of life past and present in Haida Gwaii.

What People Say

See what previous guests have to say about trips exploring Gwaii Haanas.

    “Our Crew explained so much about the history and culture of the Haida, and our Naturalist gave us extensive information about the Ecology of the area whether out on the water in the zodiac’s or on the land.”

    Karol D, TripAdvisor

    “Haida Gwaii is paradise. You feel as if you are in the most pristine and beautiful area of our world.”

    Gail R, TripAdvisor


Maple Leaf Adventures’ two expedition yachts, the schooner Maple Leaf and the catamaran Cascadia, are exciting but comfortable platforms for exploring Gwaii Haanas’ wonders.

Related Stories

Gwaii Haanas is a hidden gem known only to a select few, and an even more exclusive group has the opportunity to discover its wonders.

Inquire Today

Contact Us for More Information or to Book Your Expedition Adventure!

Get in Touch

Emailed Newsletter

Subscribe to our occasional enewsletter and look forward to doses of inspiration including photos, videos, webinars and special offers.


Printed Newsletter

Sign up to receive our annual print newsletter delivered straight to your mailbox, keeping you up-to-date with new itineraries and special offers.


Request Brochure

Order your free travel guide to the best of our wild west coast, including the Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii, Alaska, and more.

request brochure