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Traveling to Your Great Bear Rainforest Kayak Tour

Note: You can also download a PDF version of this page, more suitable for printing. Desolation Sound

Your Great Bear Rainforest Kayaking Adventure begins in the remote town of Bella Bella, about 250 miles north of Vancouver on British Columbia's Central Coast.

Important points:

Getting To Bella Bella and Shearwater

The simplest way to get to Bella Bella is to fly directly from Vancouver, Campbell River or Port Hardy. You can also take the ferry from Port Hardy. Flying time from Vancouver to Bella Bella is approximately 2 hours.

A water taxi makes regular trips between Bella Bella and Shearwater.


-Pacific Coastal Airlines runs daily flights from Vancouver, Campbell River and Port Hardy. 1-800-663-2872.


-B.C. Ferries travels between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. They also travel from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, stopping in Bella Bella (called McLoughlin Bay on ferry schedule) on their way. Crossing time is approximately 7 hours. Contact B.C. Ferries for schedule. 1- 888 223-3779 or outside B.C. 250-386-3431. Unfortunately the B.C. Ferry schedule to Bella Bella rarely coincides well with the Mothership Adventures' schedule.

Bella Bella/Shearwater Accommodation and Services

Shearwater Resort 1-800-663-2370
Whiskey Cove Bed and Breakfast (Shearwater) 250-957-4234
Annette's Beach House (Bella Bella) 250-957-2206

Shearwater also has a restaurant, pub, grocery, laundromat and hardware store.

Bella Bella has a grocery store.

Meeting Columbia III

On the first day of your tour, we will depart Shearwater at 4pm and travel to Bella Bella (approx. 30min) to meet guests at the Bella Bella fuel dock. We will depart Bella Bella at approx. 5pm. Rest assured, if your flight is delayed, we will NOT leave without you. You may board in either Shearwater or Bella Bella.

Most of our guests get to Bella Bella (map) on the daily Pacific Coastal Airlines flights from Vancouver, Campbell River and Port Hardy. You may catch either the morning or afternoon flights to Bella Bella. Upon arriving in Bella Bella, take the airport taxi to the "fuel dock." Here you can either wait for the Columbia III or take the water taxi to Shearwater, depending on the arrival time of your flight. Shearwater's amenities make it the preferred place to wait for longer durations.

On the last day of our trip we will return to Bella Bella so guests can catch the morning Pacific Coastal flight to Vancouver.

If you choose to travel to Bella Bella by ferry, we will do our best to accommodate meeting you but because the ferry schedule is varied, a good connection is not always possible.

Contacting Columbia III

The Columbia III can be contacted at 250-202-4745. The Mothership office can be reached at 1-888-833-8887 or 250-202-3229 or 1-250-202-8773. In the case of an extreme emergency, the boat can be contacted directly by calling the Canadian Coast Guard in Prince Rupert (250) 339-3613. Ask them to send a message to MV Columbia III (quote this number: MMSI# 316-003-614) sailing in the Central Coast area. We are often off the boat so expect a response to take 12 hours. The ship's phone is not for guest use. For more contact information see our website.


We are happy to accommodate any personal dietary needs including vegetarian and vegan. Wine will be served with the evening meal. If you would like an alternative to alcohol please let us know. Please note any food allergies or needs on the medical form well in advance of your departure date.

Liability Waiver

Please read our liability waiver closely. We require a signed waiver for you to be able to join our tour. You can send a copy to us by email or regular post. Your signature must be witnessed but not notarized. A friend, partner or relative can be your witness.

Medical, Allergies, and Other Concerns

Mail us your completed Medical Form ASAP. Your tetanus vaccination must be up to date (less than 10 years old) before you leave. Be sure to bring enough of your required medications as you will be far from any drug stores. We may encounter minor ocean swells so if seasickness is a concern, please bring anti-nausea medication. But rest assured, we travel in very sheltered areas and overnight in calm, protected bays. We do our best to avoid swells and waves!

Weather , Clothing, and Packing

Our skipper and certified guides will not take you in any weather conditions that are dangerous to you or the group. We will likely encounter some wind and waves (the ocean is not always flat!), but nothing that would compromise the safety of a beginner kayaker.

For maximum comfort, a layering system of lighter "quick-dry" and warmer fleece clothing works best. Merino wool is excellent as well. Avoid cotton which stays wet for a very long time. Waterproof raingear is essential. When getting in and out of your kayak on shore your feet WILL get wet. We suggest a pair of sturdy water sandals/ shoes. Sports gloves for paddling may add to your comfort and help prevent blisters. Proper protection from the sun is essential so bring sun glasses, a sun hat, sun block and lip screen. Bring a water bottle. Staying hydrated in the outdoors is very important. When aboard the mothership, comfortable casual clothing is nice to change into after paddling.

Consider bringing the items listed on the packing list we provide.

We have waterproof bags (dry bags) onboard that you can use for your cameras or other small items in your kayak if you like. Large Ziploc bags work as well. Hard suitcases are difficult to fit into the small storage compartments on the Columbia III, so if possible, bring your things in soft duffel type bags.

NOTE: Although not required, if you'd like to express your appreciation to the guides through a gratuity, such recognition would be enthusiastically received. The industry standard for tipping is approximately 10 percent of the trip cost. All tips will be equally distributed among your crew.

Packing List