Port Hardy, named after Vice-admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, is quite literally the end of the road for Northern Vancouver Island. Although small, don’t let this 4,000-person town fool you with its size: it is the gateway to all things outdoors and adventurous on the Island. Plus, it’s the largest community in the North Island. Fantastic hiking, camping, fishing and wildlife safaris wait, and there are some great amenities in town to enjoy during your down-time. Aside from the ocean adventures, Port Hardy has a beautiful harbour walkway with a Japanese garden and sits along the Queen Charlotte Strait. So, what are the top things to do that make Port Hardy worth a visit?
Whale Watching and Bear Watching
Grizzly bears on the mainland, black bears in the rugged rainforests… Northern Vancouver Island is the perfect place to take the time to safely view these stunning creatures in their natural habitat. If bears aren’t your first choice, plenty of whales pass by in the summer, too. Take to the seas in a zodiac and keep your eyes peeled for spouts of mist. You’ll have the chance to see spy-hopping or breaching humpbacks, giving a wave of their tail as they take a deep dive below.
Learn more about bear watching on Vancouver Island by reading this blog post!
For whale watching, check out this page.
Rugged coastal scenery is beautiful from the water and Port Hardy is a top kayaking destination. Explore Hardy Bay and Beaver Harbour by boat, take in the sunset, or sun rise and enjoy the endless islets and islands that are within a short paddle’s distance from Port Hardy. Unfortunately, there’s no local outfitter in town, but the neighbouring areas offer tours up that way, or boats for rent that you can use to explore up north before heading back.
Some great salmon and halibut fishing occurs in northern Vancouver Island, specifically on boats departing from the Port Hardy harbour. Wake up early and spend the day out on the ocean for your chance to reel in the big one.
Salmon fishing and saltwater aren’t only options that Port Hardy fishing has to offer, either. The endless lakes and rivers that dot Port Hardy’s surrounding area are rich with fish and rugged beauty. Plenty of fish like rainbow trout inhabit the waters, and pairing some freshwater fishing with a canoe or kayak paddle out to get them is an unforgettable experience.
For more about fishing on Vancouver Island, cruise over to our fishing charter page.
Some of the best cold-water diving in the world exists on Vancouver Island, which is why Port Hardy is a major destination for those in love with life under the sea. An incredible amount of ocean life thrives within the depths of the Pacific, and divers will see some of the smallest, and largest of the ocean’s creatures in a dive. From nudibranchs and sea urchins, to giant Pacific octopus, wolf eels and animals like Stellar sea lions, there is plenty to see.
Finally, the end of the road, doesn’t mean the end of the trail. Port Hardy is the gateway to a number of incredible hiking trails, including the famous Cape Scott and North Coast Trails. For those seeking a multi-day, outdoor adventure, these are the hikes for you. While the trails can be challenging, the rewards are worth it; Beautiful secluded beaches, incredible trees and untouched wilderness are spotted along the way. As an added bonus for some, the beaches at the end of a lot of trails from Port Hardy are perfect for a North Island surf.
Port Hardy itself is a pleasant town with cool summers and mild winters. The scenic harbour with its walkway and Japanese garden are quaint and set the tone for the relaxed fishing town. A former copper mine gave Port Hardy its population spurt from its twelve-family population in 1914. Since the logging road was paved to Campbell River in 1979, more and more visitors have flocked to the north to experience the seclusion and adventure of Port Hardy. Today, the town offers some fantastic adventure outfitters, great hotels, and restaurants supplying fresh, local seafood and other tasty eats! There are plenty of surprises waiting at the end of the road in Port Hardy.
For more, pay a visit to our entire page dedicated to Port Hardy.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk