The North Island’s largest community (4,000 residents) welcomes visitors year-round as host port for BC Ferries sailings to northern B.C. (a trip hailed as one of the world’s great ferry rides by Travel + Leisure magazine). A great base for regional daytrips, the lively town also boasts an appealing variety of restaurants, green spaces, hiking trails and shopping (art, crafts, smoked salmon). Nearby are family picnic grounds at Storey’s Beach as well as historic Fort Rupert with its internationally renowned First Nations’ artists.
Port Hardy Through the eyes of the travellers
Things to do in the Port Hardy area
- Book a stay in the North Island’s largest population centre (4,000 people) before or after BC Ferries trips through the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert. Browse Market Street’s collection of shops and boutiques. Check out the work of dozens of local artists at a cooperative gallery. And snack on the town’s favourite food – smoked and candied salmon.
- Prized by collectors world-wide, local First Nations art is also a mainstay of downtown galleries. You can also go out on a cultural tour with K’awat’si Tours.
- Grizzly bears and their cubs are the prize sighting on guided tours that travel across the Queen Charlotte Strait to the BC mainland’s Great Bear Rainforest during the May to October season. Whales, black bears, wolves and bald eagles are also regular sightings on these life-list excursions into the wild kingdom. Make the trip by boat or floatplane.
- Walk from the Government Wharf near the Quarterdeck marina either north to downtown or south along a forested riverfront trail to the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre. The latter offers guided tours of a working salmon hatchery along with interactive exhibits and displays that showcase local marine life.
- Schedule a visit for one of the town’s lively community festivals each summer. Filomi Days in mid-July honours the region’s fishing, logging and mining legacy with a weekend celebration highlighted by a parade, kid’s activities, races and fireworks.
- Port Hardy is a departure point for year-round outdoor adventures highlighted by saltwater and freshwater fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, and hiking.
- Travel by road or via land shuttle and water taxi services to Cape Scott Provincial Park at the windswept northern tip of Vancouver Island. For the ultimate backcountry experience, tackle the North Coast Trail – a 59km marathon route that incorporates the pre-existing Cape Scott Trail and follows First Nations and pioneer routes along beachfronts, through the forest and across two cable-car river crossings.
- Storey’s Beach near Fort Rupert offers a wide crescent of sand at low tide, picnic grounds and fire rings for beachfront gatherings at magnificent Beaver Harbour Park.
- Cold, clear North Island waters are renowned for the density and diversity of resident marine life. Scuba diving expeditions depart from Port Hardy to such favourite spots as Browning Wall (rated the best dive site in BC and one of the top-10 in the world) in God’s Pocket Marine Provincial Park. Make it a holiday by staying at one of the region’s dive resorts.
- Surfers head for the remote northwest coast of Vancouver Island to challenge the waves at Raft Cove, Grant Bay and San Josef Bay. Surfboard and wetsuit rentals are available in Port Hardy.