Sirmilik National Park of Canada

Boating, canoeing, and sea kayaking

Kayak sur la baie Éclipse © Parks Canada

In the summer (late July to early September) Sirmilik is accessible only by water, as the various sections of the park are connected by the sea. The nearest community to Bylot Island is Pond Inlet, located 25 km to the south, across Eclipse Sound. Local boat operators and guides are available in Pond Inlet or Arctic Bay to provide marine transportation to the park.

Tour operators must be licensed by Parks Canada to provide guiding and outfitting services inside Sirmilik National Park. For a current list of licensed tour operators and local guides, please contact the Parks Canada office in Pond Inlet at (867) 899-8092.

Travelling by sea kayak is one way to experience the beauty and scenery of Sirmilik, but only for those who are very experienced and only in certain areas. Marine hazards include strong winds, adverse weather, floating ice, and tides. Boat transportation to drop-off and pick-up points is advised.

If you are planning a boat or kayak trip:

  • In the arctic the extremely cold water kills quickly. Will you bring a dry suit - an essential for kayak travel? Reduce the risk of immersion in all your activities as the consequences of any accident are very serious.

  • Are you extremely experienced in your chosen activity? The high arctic is no place to learn new skills.

  • Can you cope with fast changing weather? Wind and currents can quickly whip waves into rough water.

  • Is your group large enough, with enough boats or kayaks to offer assistance if an accident occurs and members of your group need to be rescued?

  • Are you comfortable with bracing, manoeuvering, surf landing and launching and self-rescue techniques?

  • Can you interpret marine charts and tide tables and use them to identify marine hazards?

  • Can you travel on a bearing and use triangulation to establish your position?

  • Can you navigate in fog?

  • Are you able to estimate the speed of a current and estimate ferry angle under varying conditions?

Marine Points of Interest

Oliver Sound - Kangiqluruluk

Located south of Pond Inlet, Oliver Sound features an immense scenic fiord with excellent opportunities for boating, sea kayaking, and camping. Its steep cliffs and valley glaciers provide some of Sirmilik's most impressive scenery, and its sheltered waters are ice-free relatively early in the summer season. Several large alpine glaciers come close to the sound, and are ideal places to explore. There are several good camping areas along the shore, and many opportunities for day hikes into the adjacent uplands.

Lancaster Sound - Tallurutiup imanga

This very large body of water, located between Devon Island and Sirmilik, is one of the most productive marine areas in the entire Canadian arctic. It is home to abundant populations of seabirds, as well as walrus, polar bear, and several species of seal and whale. It is also the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage and an important route for marine transportation.

Eclipse Sound - Tasiuja

Eclipse Sound is the main marine transportation route to Bylot Island, Navy Board Inlet and Borden Peninsula. It is often covered by pack ice until mid-summer, and travel can be dangerous due to strong winds, currents, and high waves. There is abundant marine life in the sound, including narwhals and polar bears. Spectacular icebergs add to the local scenery. Some become grounded in shallow waters, remaining in Eclipse Sound for several years before floating into Baffin Bay.

Navy Board Inlet - Nalluata imanga

Navy Board Inlet provides the main access corridor to the park's Borden Peninsula, as well as Cape Hay and Lancaster Sound. The scenery is impressive, and several glaciers descend abruptly to the shoreline just north of Low Point.