Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures

Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures

Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures
Eco ToursDolphin & Whale WatchingNature & Wildlife ToursKayaking & Canoeing
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Fully outfitted and guided sea kayaking tour of Northern Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, and the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada. Tours range from stays at Kingfisher's comfortable base camps surrounded by abundant wildlife to more remote and rugged expedition style tours. No experience is necessary for most tours and family friendly departures are available.
Port McNeill, British Columbia, Canada
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Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures
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(12 reviews)

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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5.0 of 5 bubbles160 reviews
Very good

1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Friends
I don't usually write reviews but in this case I feel compelled to. The two previous negative reviews, I must say, hit the nail on the head. The guides where rude, dismissive and condescending making it very difficult to communicate with them. The guides contributed greatly in creating a challenging and complex group dynamic as the owner put it. Unfortunately he was not a fly on the wall to witness the guides negative attitudes towards the guests. From the owner's response he appears to have dismissed and invalidated the guests' experiences (referring to unmet expectations as the core issue) while accepting and validating the guides response to the guests negative feedback. The kayaking was not above anyone's abilities on the trip.
The ocean, the islands and the wildlife made it bearable but glad it was over and didn't have to deal with the guides any longer.
Written December 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for taking the time to add your review to the reviews from your two travel partners below. My responses to their reviews were not meant to diminish theirs or your experiences; rather, I aimed to underscore the diverse feedback I received regarding this particular trip. In response to the feedback from yourself, your travel partners, and other guests on the trip, we have taken measures to enhance our screening process for this particular tour. Our goal is to ensure a better alignment between the tour and participants. For prospective guests reading this review, we encourage you to contact us directly with any inquiries or concerns about our tours and guides.
Written December 4, 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

British C
1 contribution
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Friends
I joined Kingfisher Adventure’s Ultimate Gwaii Haanas Explorer for a 15-day adventure in August 2023. My expectations were huge, based on knowing that the flora, fauna and geography were spectacular (I’d been to Haida Gwaii previously), excitement about visiting Ninstints / SGang Gway Linagaay (with some knowledge of the pre- and post colonial history of the Haida Nation), and looking forward to 2 weeks of ocean kayaking. I kayak at least weekly with a local club and have been on numerous guided trips off Vancouver Island’s Pacific Ocean coast but had never been on a 2-week trip. I had additional expectations based on Kingfisher Adventures website that was informative about its equipment, meals and so on. These expectations were met mostly.

The disappointment came with Kingfisher’s guides. Competent guides would be expected, but I could have never anticipated the rudeness and dismissive attitude of the head guide. The assistant guide was on her inaugural trip with Kingfisher so she was learning but from the way she treated us and spoke, it seemed as if most of her experience might have been with children’s camps. The head guide was experienced as a guide and kayaker, but her attitude toward the guests was awful. Right from the time of our arrival, she spoke to us in a condescending way, cut people off mid sentence or just told them they were wrong, discouraged conversation about anything or any questions regarding daily or weekly kayaking plans. We all soon learned to ask no questions and start no conversations with the guides present which was not difficult because during the long afternoons when we were ashore, they spent most of the time in their own tents coming out only to make dinner or otherwise sat far away reading. In one instance, the head guide cried when giving an interpretive talk; at another, she yelled at all of us during one of her “team meetings”.

Team leadership skills were lacking in spite of this guide insisting that we work as a team. She pandered to the one person who continuously complained privately to her. The inconsistency in her instructions was confusing and divisive – we were told not to do anything until she instructed (e.g., coming ashore in the kayaks, moving the kayaks onto higher ground, choosing boats with respect to doubles or singles and who we shared doubles with), yet she complained when we didn’t do those tasks on our own, saying we should know how.

One morning we got up early and on time for breakfast, moved the boats as instructed, and then sat around doing nothing for 2 ½ hours until the tide was right; of course, tide tables could have given us such information had those tables been shared with us. That behavior seemed to be testing our ability to obey; otherwise, we might have chosen to rise later and enjoy a more relaxed breakfast or at least keep our reading books out of packed kayaks.

Another issue was the routes we took. Obviously, there was a general overall plan to go from south to north during a 2-week period, yet most (not all) days we did very little paddling. We spent a lot of time ashore although there was only one day that we were held up due to weather. I read a 400-page book but would have preferred to do that at home and spend way more time each day on the water.

I did not expect to pay thousand of dollars, enjoy outdoor activities and be amidst spectacular scenery to be treated with distain. It seemed that the paying guests were an inconvenience. I have no doubt that the head guide would have been happier kayaking on her own without the encumbrance of Kingfisher guests, except that the pay is not as good. Outdoor guiding takes both kayaking skills and people skills and the latter was clearly missing on this trip.
Written December 1, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for sharing your detailed review of the 15-day Ultimate Gwaii Haanas Explorer kayak tour, and for the constructive conversations we've had via email and phone. We sincerely appreciate your insights, as well as those from your travel partners, including BCGirls' review below. It's crucial for us to gather diverse perspectives to continually improve our services. We've taken your feedback seriously and conducted a thorough review with the guides and fellow participants from your trip. The feedback from other guests was postive overall, and a few of them mentioned differing expectations within the gorup and the challenging group dynamics the guides had to manage. I often receive very positive feedback on the lead guide in question, and have many repeat guests ask for her specifically. It's evident that this particular trip presented unique challenges for the guides and guests. We've addressed concerns about differing expectations by enhancing our screening process. We've introduced a more detailed kayak experience questionnaire tailored specifically to this tour, aiming to align participant expectations with the demands of this extended and adventurous journey. We understand that this trip may not have met your expectations, and we respect your decision not to join us in the future. However, we hope that potential guests reading your review will reach out to us directly with any questions or concerns. We are committed to providing transparent information and ensuring that our guests have a clear understanding of the nature of each tour. Andrew Jones
Written December 1, 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Pam J
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Friends
The Whales and Wildlife Expedition trip with Kingfisher was the highlight of my summer. From the pre-departure videos guiding my packing list to the amazing guides, Claudio and George and the stunning environment - it was a fabulous experience. Kingfisher provided us with reliable camping equipment. The camp sites were wonderful and the kayaking itself was just challenging enough. Claudio and George took such good care of us - with humour and deep care...and delicious food! I would highly recommend this trip !
Written November 10, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

22 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Couples
This was to be our dream ocean kayaking trip. We had visited Gwaii Haanas by zodiac the previous year - Hot Springs and Windy Bay and knew we wanted to come back and immerse ourselves in the magic of Gwaii Haanas by booking the Ultimate Gwaii Haanas Explorer 15 day trip with Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures.
We are not new to ocean kayaking having done over 8 multi day trips exploring the waters of almost every area off Vancouver Island and returning to many of the same companies for multiple trips - all 5 star experiences . . .until this one.
If I was rating the pre trip customer service ( excellent and timely), the kayaking equipment( top quality kayaks, paddling jackets etc), the camping equipment (top quality spacious tents and thermarests), the wildlife ( eagles, ravens, bears, deer,humpback whales, even paddled through a pod of blue sharks, intertidal life), the region ( the culture, history, natural beauty, solitude and magic) this trip would have received 5 stars!
However, if I was rating just the guides this would have been a 1 star review. I still can't believe how those 15 days played out.
Our lead guide's welcome to camp was a sharing of how her guiding and leadership could be likened to the famous explorer Captain James Cook: sailors would clamber over each other to achieve a coveted position of crew member on one of Captain Cook's ships because they knew he would take them on great adventure and bring them safely back home. Her junior guide (first trip with Kingfisher) later expounded on the lead guides Cpt Cook comparison and said to the group "I don't know if you guys realize this but you are in the presence of a Kayaking Guide Rock Star!"
We've been on many kayaking trips with many excellent guides and never has a guide welcomed us with such a story of self idolization. I found it a bit bizarre. But if it had ended there no big deal, but it soon became apparent this was a guide like we had never experienced.
The guide asked if there were any questions. I asked, "Will we be moving camp everyday?" Her response was, "Why are you here if you don't want to paddle for 14 days?" followed by an icy stare. Needless to say there were no other questions.
And if guests happened to have a question the response I heard on multiple occasions was, "I'm not going to answer that because you'll just forget and then I'll have to repeat myself and I'm not going to do that."
One unfortunate situation occured as guests were reluctant to ask the guide a question: the supply boat had arrived and we were to unload new supplies and load not required items back into the supply boat for return to Sandspit. Several items were in the proximity to those things requiring loading onto the boat but seemed odd that they weren't needed. We were a small group of 4 loading things on the boat but the consenus was NOT to ask the guide as she would 'just get snarky'. Outcome was the items should not have been loaded and it took much time and energy ( and maybe cost?) to have the items returned to camp.
In past kayaking experiences guests were happy and more than capable to self organize solo/tandem assignment assuring equity for all. But not this trip. Initially we were happy to take on this task when the lead guide said, "You are all adults. You can figure it out" and of course we could and happy to do so. One guest was not happy with the group process and rather than speak up went later to the guides. It only takes one for group process to crumble. The guide's management only worsened the situation as they would come to the beach in the morning as guests were preparing their kayaks and say, 'No, it's not going to work that way' and proceeded to assure the one guest got what they wanted. This happened on several mornings until the lead guide suggested she take over and just assign kayaks. We all agreed this was a better approach given the situation. One very frustrated guest considered leaving the trip when the supply boat came as she told me "I didn't come all this way and pay all this money to have to deal with this drama."
One bizarre event occured when we were completing a morning of paddling and approaching the shore to where we would be setting camp for the day. I was in a tandem and we were about 100 meters from shore and came along side another guest in a solo who was observing a family of eagles. We stopped to watch the family of eagles with him. The waters were calm, no wind, still bay waters. The other 4 guests were closing to the shore and we would have caught up to them in maybe 5 minutes max after viewing the eagles. We then observed the lead guide aggressively paddling towards us, the solo kayaker saw her approaching and took off. As she approached she snarled, " You two are talking and not paddling! I'm towing you in!" she circled our tandem securing a towline between our kayaks and proceeded to tow us the 100 meters to shore. My tandem companion was outraged and humiliated. I thought it was the most bizaare behaviour and considered this must be what a kayak guide temper tantrum looks like!
But the most bizarre event occured following a long 6 hour day of kayaking when in our final hour we came around the last point and found ourselves in roughly 2 metre waves coming from every direction accompanied with 2.5 metre steep swells. The most experienced ( I would say) of our group described it as a 'white knuckler'.
As we stood on the beach, our adrenaline levels returning to normal, the lead guide announced, 'We need a team meeting'. She proceeded to tell us she was feeling unappreciated by the group and not recognized for all the work she does on our behalf and we weren't acknowledging her skills and abilities. No one in the group spoke. She continued to chastise us for not functioning better as a team as we were taking the same amount of time to load and launch our kayaks in the morning as we did on our first day. Again no one said a word. She continued her reprimand saying we didn't appreciate the privilege of visiting the Watchman Sites and went on to tell us we did not respect the First Nations! This is when one guest spoke up gently saying "You are wrong. We do respect First Nations" to which the guide snapped back " Do you have something to say?" The guest immediately said, 'no' put her head down and took a step back. It was awful to watch and I still wonder was it a nightmare or did it really happen? This was day 12 of the trip.
One guest, who was very wise, suggested we leave all the anger on the beach and go visit the site.
Later that evening I thought I would connect with the guide and present the perspective that perhaps the team kayak assignment process might be contributing to the team functioning issue, but she cut me off. She exclaimed that it had to work for everybody. What she failed to comprehend is that it may be working for a few but it wasn't working for others. I was a good example - out of 13 days of paddling I had only 2 days in a solo but kept quiet about it as I soon resigned to the fact that all that mattered was that I was in a boat paddling and in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was obvious she was unable to see any perspective but her own. I realized I had made a mistake in coming to her and began to back away. She then moved in closer and barked at me, "You're here to paddle your face off!!"
Now the truth of the matter was: we had maybe 2 days of 6 hour paddling with lunch and stretch stops, majority were 3 - 4 hour paddles and even several days where we paddled on 2 hours. Many hours were spent on the beach, reading, knitting, visiting with other guest, exploring the forest and walking the shoreline. And the conditions were amazing the entire time of paddling - except for the 6th hour of paddling on day 12. It would have been impossible for anyone to 'paddle their face off!' on this trip.
In the end, I got to paddle for 13 days in one of the most amazing places on earth, spend time with whales, sharks, eagles and ravens, walk in the historic footsteps of the Haida Nation, imagine the magnificents of their now deserted villages and totems, hear wonderful and enspiring stories from Haida themselves, spend quality time with my partner and came to know some very special people. I will carry those fond memories for years to come.
Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures webpage states they are driven by quality and this relates directly to "how we treat our visitors as friends rather than clients" Looking back over those 15 days I would have LOVED to have been treated like a client! It would have been so much better than being treated like a major inconvenience.
I have been in contact with, Andrew, the owner who has been an excellent communicator. Andrew has made some great online changes to the trip selection process whereby guests can be assured they have picked the right trip for themselves.
In the end, however, no amount of process improvements will ameliorate the negative impacts of a guide who lacks professionalism, is rude, dismissive, condescending and patronizing.

Written November 1, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for taking the time to share your extensive and insightful review of your recent 15-day Ultimate Gwaii Haanas Explorer kayak tour. We also appreciate the thoughtful communication we've had through emails and phone calls, allowing us to better understand your experience. We are delighted to learn that several aspects of your journey, including pre-trip customer service, equipment quality, wildlife encounters, and the overall beauty of Gwaii Haanas, met or exceeded your expectations. Your positive feedback in these areas is truly appreciated. We carefully examined your comments regarding the guides and took the opportunity to gather feedback both from the guides and all the other participants on your trip. While your perspective is essential to us, the feedback we received from the other guests outside of your small party, differed somewhat from yours and spoke highly of both guides and mentioned the challenging and complex group dynamics that needed to be managed. Comments regarding differing expectations within the group resonated deeply with us. In response, we have implemented a more thorough screening process to ensure a better alignment between the tour and participants. Specifically, we have introduced additional details and a kayak experience questionnaire tailored to this particular tour. This aims to provide prospective guests with a clearer understanding of the challenges associated with this longer and more demanding adventure. We genuinely hope that these improvements will contribute to a more enjoyable experience for future participants. Andrew Jones
Written November 13, 2023
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Dagmar C
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023 • Friends
This was a magical trip! We were a group of 11 adventurous women, wanting to see wildlife and exploring these islands. The guides were great, we got to see and hear lots of whales and some orcas, learned a lot about the flora and fauna. The tents and beds were very comfy, the meals excellent. Some , but not all of us had kayaking experience, one should be in decent physical shape to do this trip.The Kingfisher Co was easy to work with and responsive to some of our special needs. I can 100% recommend them.
Written September 21, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Vancouver Island, Canada8 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Friends
I’ll start by saying that the overall kayaking experience was great. The landscapes and sea scapes were amazing. We did see lots of humpbacks and sometimes they came quite close to us. Seeing them and hearing them breathing was an amazing experience. The campsites were really nice though outhouses would be appreciated! Everything was well organized from the time I paid my deposit.
What I didn’t like was the food. In a nutshell lots of sugar and carbs and very little protein. I wish I had brought cans of tuna, nuts etc to supplement the diet. No vegans on the trip yet we were served plant based “butter” and plant based “eggs”. I get that the north of the island is not agricultural but I’m guessing the local supermarket has BC fruits and vegetables in stock in mid August. Kiwi fruit - Really? We were served canned humous 3 times, cheap store bought cookies, garlic toast with fake butter as an appy and I could go on and on. This was my 5th multi day kayak trip off Vancouver Island and I know the food can be so much better. A couple other issues: one of the kayaks didn’t have a seat; one of the guides was very unpleasant (privately addressed with owner).
Written September 18, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Colorado Springs, CO7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Family
My Daughter and I have recently returned from the whales and wildlife, 5 night tour.
From a personal perspective, if you do nothing else when you visit Vancouver Island, do this. We cannot over emphasise how knowledgeable and professional our guides were.
Both Nick and Lauren, as well as the close proximity of the whales, made this a trip that will leave a lifetime of memories. Further, the food, especially the fresh egg omelettes, were superb and one can only be impressed with Lauren’s culinary prowess. However, Nicks eloquent talks relating to the First Nation peoples were a wonderful addition and totally unexpected.
To both of you, from both of us, thank you!
Written August 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Peterborough, Canada5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Friends
What an amazing experience! It was challenging but so worth it. Our group of 8 did the Southern Haida Gwaii Expedition...the equipment was excellent, food great and the guides were superb.
Written August 7, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Esther M
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Couples
We did the eight day southern Gwaii Haanas sea kayaking expedition.
The trip exceeded our expectations. The food was fresh, delicious and plentiful. The guides were very knowledgeable 204-805-5651 a variety of pertinent subjects, very professional. The guides Kelly and Zac had excellent leadership skills, knowing when to motivate, when to step in if a situation was dangerous, and when to back off.
We were lucky to have a great group of participants, from diverse sea kayaking backgrounds. Thanks to the info in the participants handbook, the whole group came trained and prepared, and we meshed very well together.
The equipment was of high quality.
So happy to finally visit Sgang Gwaay. What an honor to be welcomed by the Haida Watchman and toured around this historic place.
The final meal at Raincoast Breads was incredible. Loved sharing this multi course meal with our amazing guides, who had taken such good care of us for the last week.
Thanks for a wonderful adventure in such a beautiful environment.
Written August 1, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Genevah H
San Francisco Bay Area, CA262 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023
We live in a busy city, and for this vacation, I really wanted my kids (ages 9 and 13) to have an immersive experience in nature. When I came across Kingfisher's Family Kayaking trip, the description of rustic beauty and fun sounded too good to be true. But now that we are back, I can attest that Kingfisher did an excellent job giving an accurate picture of this four day experience. Their basecamp kayaking trip was exactly what we were looking for -- a small, thoughtfully designed trip with outstanding guides in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Going into the trip, I knew that we weren't visiting at the optimal time of year for orcas because we could only visit in early July. I appreciated that Kingfisher's website transparently shares that later in July, August, or September are better times for orca viewing. However, we were still delighted by the wildlife encounters we experienced both on water and from the basecamp. We saw at least a dozen bald eagles, Dall’s porpoises, seals, sea lions, jumping baby salmon, humpbacks, Christmas anemones, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and more.

We appreciated the basecamp not only because of the comfort but because there were plentiful tidepools right at the camp and opportunities to enjoy the breathtaking vistas and watch for wildlife right from our perch on the rocks. Our kids had hours of fun skipping and collecting rocks, playing hide and seek in the woods, and exploring the intertidal zones.

Our lead guide, Wendy, was seriously amazing. She hit all the right notes in terms of balancing safety and adventure, and she brought a sense of wonder and joy to the experience, for kids and adults alike. Our kids had hours of fun from her teaching them about wishing stones and about feeding mussels to the sculpin. I will always remember the Narnia she showed us on our hike to the ancient red cedar surrounded by dazzling spongy moss. When we visited Alert Bay later in the trip and learned to do some weaving with red cedar bark at the U'mista Culture Center, we remembered what Wendy had taught us about the Culturally Modified Trees and appreciated the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw artistry even more.

As my kids and I are all beginner kayakers, I appreciated that Wendy had high standards for safety, having all of us practice the removal of the spray skirt, making us redo the entry if someone stood up in the kayak, etc. I was consistently impressed with the way she factored in all of the elements—wind, tide, currents—to figure out the optimal route and timing for our days. I also appreciated how she led the team, teaching us to work together to move the boats safely. Her kayaking tips made us better, more efficient kayakers, allowing us to enjoy our time on the water even more. She was a consummate pro and just a delightful, kind human. I feel really lucky that we got to have Wendy as our guide.

Because we were a family of three, our 9-year-old ended up in a double with one of the assistant guides, George or Mackenzie. Both were exceedingly gracious with our super chatty kid who took a lot of paddling breaks. George also did a great job engaging the kids in refining their rock skipping skills and checking out the intertidal life.

A word about the food: our guides did an incredible job feeding us with delicious meals, snacks, and desserts throughout this trip. We were nourished with great food, great company, and incredible nature on Hanson Island. This area of the world is pristine and stunning, and we very much hope to return one day.

Enormous thanks to Kingfisher for helping us create memories as a family that we will treasure for a lifetime!
Written July 10, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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