Gwaii Haanas is a remote location. It is critical that visitors who plan to travel on their own in Gwaii Haanas have the skills and are adequately prepared to be self-sufficient in emergency situations, including equipment failure.

Emergency responses are weather dependent, and thus in foul weather it may be many hours before emergency response personnel reach visitors in distress. Below is a list of the main hazards that visitors are expected to understand and prepare for before coming to Gwaii Haanas.

Marine navigation and skills

Marine navigation and skills are essential to staying safe in remote waters of Gwaii Haanas.

Emergency assistance

There are no cellphone or internet services in Gwaii Haanas. All boats travelling in the area should be equipped with a VHF radio.

Weather and marine hazards

Even on beautiful days the weather can change quickly in Gwaii Haanas. Be aware of both the marine weather forecast and your own observations of the conditions.

Wildlife encounters

The bears found on Haida Gwaii are often seen foraging in the intertidal zone. Do not approach or feed the bears.

Kayaking safety

Use these checklists as a guide. Items and quantities taken will depend on your sail plan, experience and the length and type of trip.

Code of ethics for travellers

We encourage you to be an ecotourist while travelling in Gwaii Haanas or anywhere on Haida Gwaii.

Facilities in and around Gwaii Haanas are minimal. Access is limited to boats and seaplanes. There are no roads, stores, or fuelling facilities. There are a few mooring buoys, two water hoses, and limited navigational aids.

Make daily travel plans flexible to accommodate weather delays. Bring enough fuel and food to last for a few extra days. Carry clothing and equipment for a variety of weather conditions.

This area has significant tidal variation, strong currents, rapidly changing weather, and strong winds that develop with little or no warning. Take the time to learn about the waters you plan to navigate.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation there are several ways you can request help. We recommended calling for help in the following order:

(Depending on how VHF radio repeaters are functioning and satellite service you may have to try one or several options before reaching someone).

Canadian Coast Guard

Marine VHF Channel 16. Stay on the channel for an answer. If you don’t get a response in 15 to 20 seconds try again.

By satellite phone (24-hour service): 1-250-363-2333.

Parks Canada

By satellite phone (24-hour service): 1-780-852-3100.

Note that Parks Canada staff monitor VHF Channel 16. They are contacted by the Coast Guard to assist with emergency situations, if in the vicinity.

Haida Gwaii Watchmen

Marine VHF Channel 6, within line-of-sight of Watchmen villages.

Note: Radio reception can be unreliable and there is no cell phone coverage in Gwaii Haanas. If your radio is not receiving a signal, try moving to a different, preferably higher, location. In an emergency situation you can use an EPIRB device or PLB. If you do not have a radio, use international distress signals like flares, fire and smoke signals, to draw attention to yourself.