Great Bear Rainforest
Also called the Inside Passage, the Great Bear Rainforest is a land of fjords, rainforests and great river estuaries. Here, you can view grizzly bears, the mysterious white Spirit Bear, whales and, if you’re lucky, wolves. Book early – these sell out quickly!
- Sail the fjords, where 4,000-foot cliffs rise beside you
- Walk in rainforest and wild-flower meadows with naturalists
- View wild bears – grizzly, spirit, and black – in totally natural settings
- Visit villages and, welcomed by residents, learn about coastal culture, from First Nations’ earliest culture to the present
- Explore the region’s other wildlife, including whales, wolves, bald eagles, and other marine mammals
- Beach-comb and land on remote islands on our shore trips each day
Ship: MV Swell
September: 05, 14, 23
Ship: SV Maple Leaf
September: 08, 17, 26
Ship: Cascadia (catamaran)
September: 08, 16, 25
October: 03, 11
As availability changes frequently please check with us for current available cruises.
SV Maple Leaf dates:
CA$4,750 – twin or single
Summer & Fall dates:
CA$6,650 – twin or single
MV Swell dates:
Cat. 1, CA$5,667 – twin
Cat. 2, CA$6,293 – twin
Cat. 3, CA$6,976 – twin
Summer & Fall dates:
Cat. 1, CA$7,980 – twin
Cat. 2, CA$8,720 – twin
Cat. 3, CA$9,510 – twin
Summer & Fall dates:
Cat. 1, CA$8,825 – twin
Cat. 2, CA$10,253 – twin
Cat. 3, CA$11,681 – twin
Plus CA$100 Sustainability Fee, per person on all sailings and all cabin types.
Taxes: 5% GST
Prices are shown in CA$ and are per person. There is no single supplement on SV Maple Leaf cruises. On the MV Swell and the Cascadia single use cabins are available at 1.5X the per person twin-share rate.
Board the Maple Leaf, MV Swell or Cascadia (catamaran) in Bella Bella, BC, and embark on your Great Bear Rainforest tour, orientation, cruising. Island anchorage, river exploration, and learning about the ‘salmon forest’.
Beach walk. Cruising into Fjordland for an in depth tour of the Great Bear Rainforest. Massive waterfalls, spectacular inlets, pictographs, estuary exploration and search for bears.
Cruising to one of the leading grizzly bear havens, bear tour into the estuary. Extended watching for grizzly bears. Optional evening kayak, fishing, quiet time.
Morning shore walk, tour First Nations village, Klemtu. Big House tour by village guide. Intertidal life. Fjord anchorage.
Exploring coastal river by zodiac. Forest walk. Sea lion and black or grizzly bear viewing. Nature hike. Hot springs.
Spirit bear island anchorage. Shore excursion to spirit bear viewing site with bear stands. Whale Channel, humpback whale watching. Optional kayak.
Sailing down coastal channel, Island anchorage, cultural site visit. Optional evening kayak.
Outer coast Great Bear Rainforest tour and beach exploration, sailing and cruising the western waters, whale viewing, shore trips.
Great Bear Rainforest tour traditional morning brunch, cruising to port in Bella Bella.
These trips can have good opportunities to see grizzly bears, spirit bear viewing days are only in September and October. Note that as with all expedition cruises, the itinerary may change based on weather, wildlife activity, and interests of the guests. This itinerary is to give you a general idea of the trip.
The trip begins and ends in Bella Bella, BC. We can arrange your flights for you once your cruise has been booked or provide you with the flight dates and times required in order for you to book your own airfare.
- Comfortable, classic ship-board accommodation
- All meals and snacks prepared freshly for you by a chef, highlighting local, fresh specialities
- All beverages – coffee, tea, juice, soda, filtered water, craft beer and wine
- Shore trips, wildlife viewing and zodiac excursions guided by expert, knowledgeable crew/guides
- Cultural site visits with local guides
- Services of a naturalist and crew aboard the ship and ashore
- Open wheelhouse for visits
- Use of gear on board including kayaks, fishing gear and rubber boots
- Pre-departure material
- Low passenger to staff ratio
- Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Pre/post nights in Bella Bella or elsewhere in BC
- Transfers to/from the ship
- $100 sustainability fee
- 5% GST
There are no roads in the Great Bear Rainforest – instead all travel is by water. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. calls the area “the last stand of the great North American rainforest.” Explore British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest by luxurious yacht with just a few guests, guided by the expert local crew, naturalists and guides of Maple Leaf Adventures.
This trip includes moderate walking, bear viewing (from zodiacs, on land and in some cases at a bear viewing stand), zodiac rides, other wildlife viewing (whales, marine mammals), natural history, culture, sailing, village visits, hot-springs (often), kayaking and even fishing!
Great Bear Rainforest – Fjords that Harbour Wildlife!
At the Pacific ocean’s eastern edge, the sea breaks against BC’s western islands and sandy beaches. Then it snakes down glacier-hewn valleys at the foot of the mountains: these are the Great Bear Rainforest’s fjords. Some call it “Yosemite by the sea”. On SV Maple Leaf and MV Swell you’ll travel close to the fjords’ granite walls, where waterfalls drop hundreds of feet to the ocean. Whales and dolphins may surface and feed beside us while we travel!
Walk in the Great Bear’s Ancient Rainforest
The ancient rainforest of spruce and cedar trees clings to some mountainsides and pushes out of the fertile river valleys. You’ll walk here with the naturalist and see why people have described these forests of ethereal green light as “living cathedrals”. In the eighteenth century the European explorers had another word: sublime.
Where the rivers and forests meet the sea, the Great Bear’s fecund estuaries form. These meadows and brackish waters are of prime importance to the area’s wildlife, from bears and wolves to eagles, ravens and ducks, providing food in spring and fall and transitioning fish and nutrients between forest and sea.
Spirit Bears, Grizzly Bears, and other wildlife viewing
The rich river estuaries in the spring and the prolific salmon runs in the autumn support B.C.’s largest remaining populations of the mighty grizzly bear. The area is home to an equally large population of black bears and is the habitat of the rare, white Spirit bear (or kermode bear).
With Maple Leaf, you’ll float in a shore boat or sit in a safe place on land to watch these great mammals fish, rear cubs, munch on sedge or turn over rocks for crabs and other marine snacks.
You’ll also learn the “behind the scenes” information about how the estuaries work and support the life of the Great Bear Rainforest.
In the Autumn, spawning channels of the rivers are covered with salmon. This spectacle creates a feeding frenzy as bears and other mammals feast on the bounty. We may hear, and, if we’re lucky, see the elusive coastal wolf, which researchers recently confirmed catches salmon, too.
Eagles by the hundreds, ravens, harlequin ducks and a host of other birds join the fray. To witness these phenomena are two of the greatest experiences in nature.
The People of the Great Bear Rainforest
Explore the worlds of several northwest First Nations: the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Haisla, Gitga’at and Henaaksiala. Everywhere is evidence of their civilization. Fish traps, bark-stripped trees and longhouse remains give testimony to a way of life tuned to the rhythm of nature. You’ll visit modern villages, talk with local residents, and see the ancient art traditions still in place today.
Remote Pleasures – Hot Springs & Wild Food
The Great Bear Rainforest’s ocean frequently provides succulent Dungeness crab and prawns for our table. We often visit one of the natural, out-of-the-way hot springs that bubble up here. Anchoring in a cove or bay, you’ll go ashore by zodiac or kayak and sink into the rejuvenating warm water. A far cry from commercial hot springs, these pools are usually empty but for ourselves.
Wilderness with a Complex Future
A ten-year land use plan recently announced by the B.C. government, with stakeholders from conservation groups, First Nations, tourism, local communities, resource extraction industries, scientists and others, protects 2 million hectares of this wilderness.
Sadly, much of the rest of the area is immediately threatened by massive clear-cut logging. We feel it is critical that as many people as possible see this place and become aware of the magnitude of the potential loss of so much critical habitat and immeasurable beauty.
We have selected our favourite season in the Great Bear Rainforest – where the fall salmon run brings grizzly, spirit and black bears to the coast, as well as sea lions, killer whales, seals, eagles and wolves. In the springtime, the meadows burst with new plant life, and newly-awakened grizzly bears graze on tender new shoots. This is also a beautiful time to visit and there are 7 day/6 night trips available in May. Please ask us for those details if you are interested in spring departures.
SV Maple Leaf Accommodation: The spacious main cabin on this 92-foot sailing schooner is airy and divided by half-walls and heavy curtains into four “cabins,” providing sleeping accommodations for eight guests. Each area contains large comfortable beds (six and a half feet long), space for your belongings, brass reading lamps, fluffy duvets and blankets. They have walls on two-and-a-half sides and thick, heavy curtains on the other one-and-a-half sides. There are three heads (washrooms) aboard, all with hot running water and shower conversions.
MV Swell Cabins: There are 3 cabin categories on this 88-foot converted tug boat.
Cat. 1: Outside door, opening portholes, private en-suite head, storage, natural light. Two up and down small, extra-long single beds (79.5” x 30”). Sink in main area, toilet and shower in head. Storage in tall cupboard with shelves, small under-sink cupboard, under bed. 57 sq. ft Garry Oak, Red Alder
Cat 2: Mid-size cabin, outside door, opening portholes, larger private en-suite head, storage, natural light. Angled boat double beds (approx 79” x 52”, narrower at feet). These are comfortable beds for two people used to sleeping together and don’t mind their feet near each other. Not for people who wish to sleep well separated from their partner. Luxurious for a single paying a single supplement. 3-piece bathroom. Storage in three small drawers, two cubbyholes under bed, and three shelves, plus cupboard in head. 80 sq ft Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce or Mid-size cabins, outside door, opening portholes, larger private en-suite head, storage, natural light. Two up and down singles (approx 78” x 35”), plus desk and two small cupboards. Sink in main area, toilet and shower in head. Storage in two small wardrobes, shelf on top of wardrobes, cupboard under sink and inside small desk. 81 sq ft Arbutus
Cat. 3: Largest cabins, outside door, opening portholes, large private ensuite head, storage, natural light. Small boat queen sized bed, which is half-way between a double and a queen (75.5” x 57”). One side of bed is against the wall. 3-piece bathroom. Storage in tall, slim cupboard, various drawers, one shelf and small entry shelf. 119 sq ft Cedar, Douglas Fir
Cascadia (Catamaran): Cascadia is a go-anywhere, expedition style catamaran. She accommodates up to 24 guests in 12 luxurious cabins, with a crew of 10. She is unlike any other vessel offering expeditions on the BC coast, having been built specifically for high-quality, boutique cruises. Light, spacious and comfortable, she is also capable of reaching the wildest, most naturally rich places on the coast. Her small size and guest numbers provide an authentic, human-scale experience that respects the carrying capacity of coastal inlets and communities. The Cascadia offers three cabin categories.
Cat. 1: Smallest cabins with one queen or two twin beds, 3 piece en-suite bathroom, located on Main Deck (with one cabin on Promenade Deck), door access to corridor only. 160 sq ft
Cat. 2: Medium cabins with one queen or two twin beds, 3 piece en-suite bathroom, located on Promenade Deck, door access to deck as well as corridor 195 sq ft
Cat. 3: Largeest cabins with one king bed, 3 piece en-suite bathroom, located on Bridge Deck, door access to deck as well as corridor. 235 sq ft
Disclaimer: We do our utmost to ensure that information posted on our website is correct at the time of publication, however trip details are subject to change without notice by the suppliers and operators involved. We update the information as soon as possible when changes are advised to us, however, we cannot assume responsibility for such changes made by the suppliers and operators.