Vancouver Island

Take a Walk on Vancouver Island’s Wild Side

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Kevin Smith, left, and Canadian Geographic Explorer-in-Residence George Kourounis, at Cape Sutil, the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island Photo: George Kourounis

Maple Leaf Adventures co-owner Kevin Smith became a heartened ambassador for Vancouver Island’s rugged northwest coast as a backcountry park ranger; now, he shares the region’s natural wonder with guests on a special itinerary of his own design.

From ecological treasures like the Great Bear Rainforest to the famed archipelago of Haida Gwaii, Maple Leaf Adventures is no stranger to adventure beyond the norm. But there’s something about this far-out corner of their Island home that sets it apart from anywhere else on the coast.

Little-visited, hard to access—this is our multi-day tour of a side of Vancouver Island that most never see. There are no roads on this coastal safari. Maple Leaf guests live and dine aboard expedition catamaran Cascadia, cruising from Cape Sutil on the northernmost tip down to the Brooks Peninsula, a glacial refugium which juts out almost to the offshore continental shelf.

It’s home to wildlife phenomena found nowhere else on Vancouver Island, that provide fodder for BBC and IMAX shows. Solander Island supports vast puffin colonies and Checleset Bay provides critical habitat for sea otters; once nearly hunted to oblivion, their population comeback is integral to healthy kelp forests in the region.

A “raft” of sea otters, one of the region’s keystone predators. Photo: Kevin Smith

Maple Leaf also operate a trip in partnership with Canadian Geographic to this northwesterly wonder, featuring exclusive guiding from an accomplished RCGS ambassador. On last summer’s trip, George Kourounis, world-renowned explorer and Canadian Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, accompanied Kevin and guests.

“I’ve travelled to dozens of countries over the years, and there’s no place quite like the wild side of Vancouver Island,” stated George. Vancouver Island’s remote northwest is a part of Canada that George always wanted to explore firsthand, and this was undoubtedly the best way to do it: “We were able to spot whales, wolves and eagles, explore remote and pristine rainforests, and enjoy the hospitality of the Kyuquot people as well as the Cascadia, a fine vessel with an amazing crew.”

Our friends in Kyuquot meet us at the beach and we learn about setting up salmon to traditionally bake over the fire. Later, we’ll all enjoy it as part of a feast together aboard Cascadia. Photo: Kevin Smith

Cascadia, the newest addition to our Maple Leaf family, is unlike any other expedition vessel on the coast, built specifically for high-quality, boutique cruising. Light, spacious and comfortable, she is also capable of reaching the wildest, most nature-rich locations.

“The Cascadia is the perfect vessel to explore the hidden beaches and coves of remote Vancouver Island. It’s the perfect mix of adventure and comfort with plentiful gourmet food, expert local crew, and enough adventure to satisfy even the worldliest travellers.”

Vancouver Island has become a beacon for international travel, but George believes even locals are in for a surprise with this special itinerary: “You think you’ve seen British Columbia? Think again. I’ve been to Vancouver Island many times, but the hidden, wild northwest corner is something else entirely. It’s like a different world that is tucked away, hidden from the hustle and bustle of daily life. A nature-lovers paradise.”

Cascadia sets sail for Vancouver Island’s Wild Side again this summer! Follow the link for more on the itinerary. You can also check out George Kourounis’ article on exploring northern Vancouver Island with Maple Leaf Adventures last summer.


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