Planning a trip to Haida Gwaii? Lucky you! Known as “the Galapagos of the North”, this west coast archipelago is one of the most beautiful places in all of British Columbia. However, getting to the remote islands of Haida Gwaii requires some forethought and planning. If you’re traveling to Haida Gwaii, you might be wondering how exactly to get there and what your travel options are. Luckily, we’re here to help!
There are several main options for traveling to the breathtaking Haida Gwaii archipelago. Below, we go into detail on the main ways for you to get to the beautiful, remote islands of Haida Gwaii. This guide covers all that you need to know, including the cheapest and fastest travel options, trip costs, and other travel advice.
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Haida Gwaii Map
Through this article, we’ll be referring to several cities or villages in Haida Gwaii (briefly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). You can refer to this map of Haida Gwaii in case you don’t know where these towns are located.
There are few communities, split between Graham Island and Moresby Island. Most towns are on Graham Island (Queen Charlotte, Skidegate, Tlell, Port Clements, and Masset). Sandspit is the main village on Moresby Island. The airports in Haida Gwaii are in Sandspit and Masset. Also, the ferry from Prince Rupert arrives in Skidegate on Graham Island. Skidegate Landing also connects to the Aliford Bay ferry terminal on Moresby Island with a ferry.
How to Get to Haida Gwaii: Main Options
Haida Gwaii is one of the most beautiful places to visit in British Columbia. However, the islands of Haida Gwaii are separated from British Columbia’s mainland by up to 125 km of open Pacific Ocean. Getting to this gorgeous archipelago isn’t as easy as just driving! The main ways to get to Haida Gwaii are by:
Below, we will help you plan your trip by covering each travel option in more detail. You’ll find everything that you need to plan your transportation to Haida Gwaii in this guide! If you’re looking for spots to visit, things to do, and the best places to stay in Haida Gwaii, check out our comprehensive travel guide for Haida Gwaii.
Ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate, Haida Gwaii
If you don’t mind a longer travel time, taking the ferry to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert is a great option. The ferry is an amazing way to see the Hecate Strait and the coast of British Columbia. It’s also very convenient traveling on the ferry because you can bring your vehicle, kayak, bike, or other large items with you!
BC Ferries has a scheduled ferry route operating between Prince Rupert and Skidegate on Graham Island. The ferry to Haida Gwaii takes anywhere between 6 to 8 hours. You can find the schedule for the ferry on the BC Ferries website.
We strongly recommend that you reserve the Prince Rupert to Skidegate ferry route in advance. You should arrive at least 90 to 120 minutes before the ferry’s departure to ensure that your reservation is honored.
The cost of the Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii ferry depends on the season. From May to September, the regular fare for the ferry to Haida Gwaii costs $41.25 per adult, plus $146.30 if you bring a standard-sized car. During the rest of the year, October through April, you’ll pay a cheaper off-peak fare ($33.65 per adult, plus $120.40 for a standard car). Traveling without a vehicle will save you some money, but then you’ll have to figure out transportation on the islands (here are some other tips to save money traveling on BC Ferries).
The ferry’s vehicle deck remains closed through the sailing for safety reasons. They do allow you to go down to your vehicles every few hours in case you need to care for a pet or grab something from your vehicle.
Also, keep in mind that the Prince Rupert – Skidegate (Graham Island) ferry can be canceled due to poor weather over the Hecate Strait. If you choose to ferry to Haida Gwaii, be prepared for a possible delayed arrival. The ferry runs year round but is less reliable in the winter when ocean storms are more common.
How Far Is Prince Rupert from Haida Gwaii
The straight-line distance between Prince Rupert and Skidegate (Graham Island) is about 100 km. However, the actual ferry route between Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii is about 194 km long (about 6-8 hours of travel time). The trip is very beautiful, especially along BC’s coast and as you near the islands! Rose Spit is the closest point on the archipelago to Prince Rupert, which is about 85 km away.
How Do You Get to Prince Rupert
You might be wondering what is the best way to get to Prince Rupert. You have five main travel options:
- Driving to Prince Rupert on Highway 16 – This is a good choice if you want to bring your vehicle to Haida Gwaii on the ferry. You’ll drive beside the Skeena River and through the coastal mountains. The drive is long but extremely scenic!
- Flying to Prince Rupert from Vancouver – There are flights from the Vancouver International Airport to Prince Rupert about five times per week with Air Canada. The Prince Rupert Airport is on Digby Island. The shuttle and ferry to Prince Rupert are included in your flight ticket. However, unless you want to explore Prince Rupert, it would be more efficient to fly directly to Haida Gwaii instead.
- Taking the BC Ferries’ Inside Passage Route from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert – The Inside Passage ferry route is one of the most scenic ways to get to Prince Rupert. This 16-hour cruise heads from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert along the coast of British Columbia, with the chance to see all kinds of wildlife along the way! You’ll arrive late in the day so you’ll need to stay overnight in Prince Rupert between ferries (the Crest Hotel is a good option). The Inside Passage ferry is also a great option if you want to bring a vehicle.
- Traveling by VIA Rail Train from Jasper to Prince Rupert – A less common way to get to Prince Rupert is by train. Enjoy traveling through scenic Canadian mountain landscapes from Jasper to Prince Rupert, with an overnight stop in Prince George. This 1160 km (720 miles) long route takes about 20 hours over 2 days. You’re responsible for your accommodations in Prince George, though. We recommend staying at the Hyatt Place hotel in Prince George, which is the closest hotel to the train station (only an 8-minute walk away).
- Travel to Prince Rupert on the Alaska Marine Highway – The Alaska Marine Highway ferries service the communities along the southern Alaska coast. The ferries connect to Canada at the Prince Rupert ferry terminal. Traveling on the Alaska Marine Highway can be time-consuming but extremely scenic.
Where to Stay in Prince Rupert
We recommend staying at the Crest Hotel, which offers oceanfront accommodations only a 5-minute drive from the ferry and train station. This waterfront hotel has everything you need for an excellent overnight stay. Each room has incredible ocean or city views, comfortable beds, and free Wi-Fi. You can relax after a long day of traveling in their hot tub and steam room. As well, there’s also an on-site Waterfront Restaurant with delicious North Coast meals. Or, enjoy an evening drink on the heated deck at Charley’s Lounge!
Where to Stay in Skidegate
The ferry from Prince Rupert often arrives in Haida Gwaii in the evening. You’ll be tired from a day of traveling, so you’ll want a comfortable hotel in Skidegate to relax in after your long trip. The best hotel near the Skidegate Landing ferry terminal is the Sea Raven Motel. This clean, comfortable motel is only 5 minutes from the ferry terminal and steps away from the beach. As well, you won’t be too far from tourist attractions like the Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay and the balancing rock. The Sea Raven Motel is also conveniently close to a grocery store and liquor store, as well as the restaurants and cafes in Queen Charlotte.
Flights to Haida Gwaii from Vancouver
If you don’t want to take the ferry, another option for getting to Haida Gwaii is to fly with either Air Canada or Pacific Coastal Airlines from Vancouver. Vancouver to Haida Gwaii flights are the fastest way to get to this beautiful archipelago.
Air Canada flies regularly between the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Sandspit Airport (YZP) on Moresby Island. Also, Pacific Coastal Airlines operates a flight regularly between the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Masset Airport (ZMT) on Graham Island, Canada.
A one-way flight to Haida Gwaii will cost about $200-400 and will take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Once you arrive, there is usually an airport shuttle that will transport you from Sandspit to Queen Charlotte or Skidegate. Also, many of the tours to the beautiful protected areas of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Sites head out from Sandspit.
How Far Is Vancouver from Haida Gwaii
The flight to Sandspit in Haida Gwaii is a 752 km (468 miles) straight shot from Vancouver. The flight takes around 1.5-2 hours. Make sure to get a window seat so you can enjoy your first glimpse of the islands from the air!
Where to Stay in Vancouver
If you’re looking for a place to stay before your flight to Haida Gwaii from Vancouver, we recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Express Vancouver Airport-Richmond Hotel. This mid-range priced hotel is a great, affordable place to stay the night before your flight. Your stay includes a breakfast buffet and a free 24-hour shuttle service to the nearby Vancouver airport.
Alternatively, try the 5-star Versante Hotel if you’re looking for more luxurious accommodations near the Vancouver International Airport. Each guest room is incredibly comfortable, modern, and features unique wallpaper designs. This luxury hotel is only a few minutes away from the Vancouver International Airport. Plus, they offer complimentary shuttles to the airport!
Where to Stay in Sandspit
If you need somewhere to stay that’s close to the Sandspit Airport, you should try the Sunrise Cabin. Only 6 minutes away from the airport, this oceanfront villa is perfect for an amazing getaway. The cabin is clean and comfortable, with many thoughtful touches that make your stay incredible.
Where to Stay in Masset
We highly recommend staying at the Agate Beach Campground when you arrive in Masset. However, if you aren’t set up for camping in Haida Gwaii, you should try staying at one of the beachfront properties near Masset. One great option is this beautiful Cedar Oceanfront House near Agate Beach and Tow Hill in Naikoon Provincial Park. This house features unforgettable ocean views from the balcony and beautiful carvings throughout the house. Plus, there’s a massive sunken tub and a firepit for evening hangouts!
Floatplane Flights from Prince Rupert to Masset
Your last option for getting to Haida Gwaii is flying with Inland Air from Prince Rupert (YPR) to Masset (ZMT) in a floatplane. Flying in a seaplane is a really unique experience, especially if you haven’t flown in one before! The floatplane flight to Masset from Prince Rupert is about 45 minutes long and costs around $300.
Flights to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert depart from the Seal Cove Seaplane Base in Prince Rupert and arrive at the Masset Airport. We recommend staying at the Crest Hotel before your floatplane flight. The hotel is only 7 minutes from the Prince Rupert floatplane aerodome.
Inland Air also operates floatplane tours around the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Heritage Sites, and the rest of Haida Gwaii. If you don’t have time for a long Gwaii Haanas kayak tour, Inland Air is a great option to view some of the Haida Heritage Sites, like SG̱ang Gwaay (the UNESCO World Heritage Site), Ḵ’uuna Llnagaay (Skedans), Hlk’yah G̱awG̱a (Windy Bay), and G̱andll K’in Gwaay.yaay (Hotspring Island).
Which Transportation Option Should You Choose?
When deciding on how to get to Haida Gwaii, you might be wondering which travel option is best. The answer is: it depends! How exactly you decided to travel to Haida Gwaii depends on your personal preference, location, budget, and other factors.
The Haida Gwaii ferry takes more time than flying but is much cheaper. Also, you can bring your vehicle on the ferry to Haida Gwaii, which makes transportation much easier once you arrive. However, the ferry can be delayed or canceled due to adverse weather conditions, making it less reliable. It may be worth the risk though – the ferry trip is quite scenic, especially when you’re approaching the archipelago.
Flying to Haida Gwaii is more expensive but much faster than taking the ferry. However, you’ll have to figure out transportation when you’ve arrived. Renting a vehicle on Haida Gwaii isn’t always easy! As well, viewing the islands and ocean from the air is quite spectacular – make sure you have a window seat! The flights are also more reliable, as they aren’t as impacted by adverse ocean conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Get to Haida Gwaii from Vancouver?
If you’re trying to figure out how to get to Haida Gwaii from Vancouver, your best options are:
- Fly to Haida Gwaii from the Vancouver International Airport – This is the quickest, easiest option for traveling to the archipelago.
- Drive to Prince Rupert and then ferry to Haida Gwaii – This option is a great way to explore BC and get your car to Haida Gwaii. Vancouver to Haida Gwaii driving will be very time-consuming, however. It’ll take about 17 hours just to drive from Vancouver to Prince Rupert!
- Fly to Prince Rupert and then take the floatplane or ferry to Haida Gwaii – This travel option is more complex and inefficient, unless you want to experience flying in the floatplane or traveling by ferry. However, flying straight to Haida Gwaii is a better option for most people.
How to Get to Haida Gwaii from Victoria and Vancouver Island?
If you’re wondering about how to get to Haida Gwaii from Victoria or Vancouver Island, your best options are:
- Fly to Haida Gwaii from Victoria/Vancouver Island via a connecting flight in Vancouver – This is the fastest option for getting to Haida Gwaii from Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island.
- Take the Inside Passage ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and then ferry or fly to Haida Gwaii – The Port Hardy to Haida Gwaii ferry trip is a great option if you don’t mind traveling longer and want to see the gorgeous, incredibly scenic coast of British Columbia. It’s also a good option if you want to bring your vehicle on the ferry.
- Ferry to Vancouver, drive to Prince Rupert and then ferry to Haida Gwaii – This is a very time consuming option, but is a good option if you want to explore more of British Columbia’s mainland.
How to Get to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert?
Wondering how to get to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert? Your main options to get to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert are:
- Ferry from Prince Rupert to Skidegate (Graham Island) – This is a very affordable option, although more time-consuming than flying. It’s a great option if you want to bring your vehicle to the islands.
- Floatplane flights from Prince Rupert to Masset – This option is more expensive but much faster than taking the ferry. Also, the flights are incredibly scenic!
How to Get Around Haida Gwaii?
Once you’ve figured out how to get to Haida Gwaii, you’re probably wondering how to get around the archipelago. Your main options are:
- Drive – You can either bring your vehicle over on the ferry or rent a vehicle on the island. Keep in mind that the rental vehicle companies limit where you can drive. You won’t be able to take your rental vehicle on any of the forest service roads or beaches like North Beach. If you find those restrictions too limiting, you may want to bring your own vehicle over on the ferry.
- Bike – This is a great option for exploring both the paved main roads and unpaved forestry roads. You can bring your bike over on the ferry or rent a bike from a rental company.
- Take a taxi – Many Haida Gwaii communities have taxi services. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation though. However, there is a daily airport shuttle between Sandspit Airport, Queen Charlotte, and Skidegate.
Haida Gwaii Travel Restrictions
During the pandemic, Haida Gwaii was temporarily closed for tourists. So, you’re probably wondering: can you travel to Haida Gwaii right now?
Currently, there are no Haida Gwaii tourism or travel restrictions, except for requiring that visitors are fully vaccinated. For the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions, check the COVID information pages from either the Council of the Haida Nation or Parks Canada.
Top Travel Tips & Resources for Haida Gwaii, BC
- Travel Guide – Planning a trip to Haida Gwaii? Check out our comprehensive Haida Gwaii Travel Guide for everything you need to know to plan your trip!
- Getting There – Check out our guide on How to Get to Haida Gwaii, which covers the best ways to travel to this beautiful archipelago.
- Travel Insurance – If you’re travelling internationally, travel insurance is a must for any trip. Being covered by insurance is especially important when you’re going to an adventure-filled place like British Columbia. If you injure yourself while adventuring, you want to have insurance! We recommend using SafetyWing for international travel insurance. They are affordable and have great policies for travellers, digital nomads, and remote workers. Also, SafetyWing provides COVID-19 coverage, which many other insurance companies don’t cover.
- Car Rental – We find the best deal on vehicle rental prices using RentalCars.com. They compare the prices for different car rental companies so you can find the best deals out there!
- Accommodations – We prefer booking all of our hotels, hostels, and other accommodations through Booking.com because they have a flexible cancellation policy. Also, there are lots of different options on their platform, from hotels to vacation homes. Alternatively, Expedia and Hotels.com are good for booking accommodations. For vacation home rentals, VRBO is an excellent choice (they have lower fees than Airbnb, many of the same properties, and are more ethical).
- Flights – You’ll find many good flight deals on Skyscanner or Google Flights. You can book flights through these websites and they’ll help you find the best prices and flight times. If you fly at less popular times (e.g. mid-week or red-eye flights), you can also save some money.
- Tours – Get the most out of your vacation by taking a guided tour! This is a great way to see the city, adventure to exciting new locations, and learn about the local culture. Viator or GetYourGuide are great options for booking tours.