Discovery Expeditions

Renew Your Harmony with Nature

Orca Explorer is one of our most popular outdoor adventures. It is a four-day sea kayaking trip utilizing two basecamps specifically located to enhance the best wildlife and wilderness viewing in Johnstone Strait or Blackfish Sound.

The sea kayaking is easy to moderate and takes in a combination of spectacular sheltered and moving water passages. These adventure vacations accommodate families on select weeks and couples/small groups of friends on most of the other dates.

Two Guides lead your trip and offer their infectious enthusiasm to provide the best trip possible. A third person will prepare meals and assist you at basecamps.

Trip Cost: CAD$1250 per person
Family Rates: starts @ CAD$3500/USD$2705 (2 adults/2 youth under 16)
Trip Deposit: CAD$250 per person

Book your vacation NOW @ 1-250-756-0094!

2016 Trip Dates:

  • May 30-Jun 2 (CAD$3500 group of 4)
  • June 2-5 (CAD$3500 group of 4)
  • June 6-9 (sold out)
  • June 9-12 (sold out)
  • June 13-16
  • June 16-19
  • June 20-23
  • June 23-26 (CAD$3500 Family Trip)
  • June 27-30
  • June 30-July 3
  • July 4-7
  • July 7-10
  • July 11-14
  • July 14-17 (CAD$3500 Family Trip)
  • July 18-21
  • July 21-24
  • July 25-28
  • July 28-31
  • August 1-4
  • August 4-7 (sold out)
  • August 8-11
  • August 11-14 (CAD$3500 Family Trip)
  • August 15-18
  • August 18-21
  • Aug 22-25
  • Aug 25-28
  • August 29 – Sept 01 (CAD$3500 Family Trip)
  • Sept 1-4
  • Sept 5-8
  • Sept 8-11
  • Sept 12-15
  • Sept 15-18
  • Sept 19-22(CAD$3500 group of 4)
  • Sept 22-25(CAD$3500 group of 4)
  • Sept 26-29(CAD$3500 group of 4)

Guests will enjoy the comforts and security of our two Island Basecamps. One is located directly across the Strait (Johnstone Strait) from the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, and the second is located across the Sound (Blackfish Sound) from Orcalab.

Our camps are located within the sights and sounds of the whales and wildlife that frequent these rich waterways. Both camps promote easy access to great sea kayaking.

A typical day starts with us floating with the current while watching wildlife, finding a nice spot for lunch, and returning to camp a different way from which we came. Down time is scheduled for strolling on the beaches, walking rainforest trails, and listening to the silence of nature.

One of the reasons we all come to this area, is to see pods of Orcas in the wild.

Everyone wants to see an Orca pod pass close by, or even to see an Orca spyhop or breach. While nobody can guarantee you will encounter Orca, our knowledgeable guides and information network helps us ensure you have the best chance for encounters during these outdoor advantures.

Being in the right spot at the right time often makes or breaks a trip, and our guides are well aware of this fact. They are always factoring this into your route and destinations for each day of your trip.

Recently, summer patterns have changed, but the good news is pods of Orca still pass through Blackfish Sound on route to the rubbing beaches of Johnstone Strait.

We often enjoy seeing the interactions between Orca, Humpbacks and White-Sided Dolphins (Lags).

Sometimes, viewing is from the shoreline, and others it is from sea kayaks. Just bring good “Karma” and let the whales come to us.

Our healthy menu starts with a substantial breakfast and a package of snacks.

Lunches and dinners focus on local seafood, salads, and summer veggies.

We provide opportunities for changes in the menu to accommodate gluten-free diets, vegan diets, and other dietary concerns.

Kitchen is open and we ask a couple of folks to chop salad nightly. This gives us another opportunity to get to know you and brings a little fun into the kitchen.

Sample Explorer Menu

Whale Time!

Whale time is spontaneous! Viewing opportunities can occur multiple times a day. Often, when we least expect it, a Humpback Whale sounds nearby, or a pod of Orcas cruises by in slow mode. Take note of our photo albums and videos; they tell the story.

Often, we view Orcas foraging for salmon or playing.

In the mornings and evenings, we listen to whales vocalizing on camp hydrophones.

If Orcas take a break from our waters, we are still are graced by the presence of harbor seals and sea otters, baby humpback whales, and acrobatic white-sided dolphins.

To reserve your adventure vacation, call 1-250-756-0094.

Trip Itinerary Orca Explorer

Arrival Day

Arrival in Port McNeill is usually late in the day because of the travel distance or the plane connections to Comox Valley Airport.

Pre-trip Meeting

Pre-trip meeting at our shop at Suite B 455 Pioneer Drive. Port McNeill at 7:30 P.N. the evening before your departure date.

This meeting is scheduled to introduce you to your guides, check your gear, fit PFDs, fit a paddle, and answer any questions you might have about the trip. We will familiarize you with a double sea kayak and review our route on the marine chart of the area.

The Start of our Adventure.

Day 1: Johnstone Strait – Blackfish Sound

Boat transport to camp with a time for whale watching. Part of the morning is set aside for whale watching, so you can hear and see whales thus recognizing their familiar breathing sounds and daily behaviors. Time for a few photos and we then proceed to basecamp.

Unloading time is quick, and our beach is user friendly for folks of all ages.

Time will be given for getting familiar with your kayak. Guides will start you out on a sheltered water paddle always with an opportunity to encounter wildlife spontaneously. Often, the first wildlife viewing from kayaks are eagles, otters, and harbor seals.

As the day unfolds into that afternoon, expect to venture into an area of coves, beaches, and small groups of islands.

Return is always before 4:00 P.M. unless whale encounters occur. Darkness does not come until 10:00 P.M..

After dinner, we progress to a early evening beach fire.

Your guides will monitor hydrophones to let you listen for whale vocalizations and identification of pods of whales before you see them.

Most folks will be heading early to bed to sleep in their comfortable tents and rest up for the full day planned for tomorrow.

Day 2: Johnstone Strait – Blackfish Sound

This will be our second day to enjoy sea kayaking.

An early start is usual to catch wildlife at first feeding or see whales on the first passage of the day.

Whale activities are spontaneous, but their travelling is predictable. We work with a network of Whale Watching boats and other kayak operators to monitor the movements of Orca and Humpback Whales.

Today, we will spend a great deal of our time on the water. It is also a possible day to sea kayak from one camp to the other.

Guides will make this call in the mornings after checking with our network of informants. Either way, expect to kayak and explore a great deal on day 2 of your adventure vacation. Expect to take time to view eagle rookeries, whales in transit, and sea lions hunting salmon.

If you’re at our Johnstone Strait island camp, this might be a good day to visit the beaches across the strait in the vicinity of Robson Bight.

After a healthy dinner, stay open minded for an evening of observation, sharing photos, and recollection about the day’s events around a beach fire.

Over the season, as the days warm and the waters absorb increasing amounts of sun, bio-luminescence can be seen in the water as the evening gradually turns to darkness.

It might be an opportune evening to paddle out for a short sunset sea kayaking session.

Day 3: Johnstone Strait – Blackfish Sound

On our third day, we are again looking to get on the water as early as we can. Often by now, folks are complaining about the songbirds or bald eagles waking them up early with the first light of the morning.

If the morning presents us with a low tide, it is an opportunity to use the kayaks to float out in the shallows and take in marine life as you have never seen it.

Or it may be again a good day to exchange camps in the eyes of whale activity and the direction of the current.

Regardless, this is a day to take in maximum time to explore by paddling from one camp to another or staying local and checking out spontaneous wildlife and bird life activities.

Our network of supports and our ability to monitor hydrophones gives us a step up on these wildlife events.

Sometime in the afternoon or early evening, we will take a look at a special part of the rainforest. Our walk through the forest might allow a glimpse of an owl, visit old growth trees, and give us an chance to stretch our legs.

As the day winds down, our focus will change to another pleasant evening with a late dinner and a beach fire special event that everyone has to experience if you come to Canada…s’mores!!!

Day 4: Johnstone Strait – Blackfish Sound

Our final day is sometimes the best day of the trip, so sleeping in is not an option.

The morning begins with time for breakfast, a wash up, and making our gear ready for the trip back to Port McNeill.

Once that is done, we can get out on the water and kayak along a sheltered shoreline that opens through a passage to a seal rookery or an eagle rookery.

Take a bit of time for pics, and move onto the open water where a humpback and her calf have frequented for the past three summers.

Gradually, we will paddle back to camp to catch lunch, load up, and cruise back to Port McNeill with stops to take our last pics of Orca or visit a sea lion rookery in Weyton Passage.

Arrival time back in Port McNeill is 2:30-3:00 P.M. We will shuttle you up to your vehicles, get your luggage out of storage, and enjoy our last exchange of information and pictures. Often, we have a small keepsake for all who take the trip.

Note: Weather is always a factor in establishing daily paddling times. Tides and currents often dictate start times. We always have a plan B for days with variable weather patterns.

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