Nancy Mertz, one of the founders of Sea Kayak Adventures, just back from the last God's Pocket Resort lodge-based trip of the season, reports:
It was a glorious week with great weather, daily sightings of frolicking humpback whales and soaring bald eagles, two restorative yoga sessions daily on the sun deck and lots of laughter and fun! Thanks to Bill & Annie, our wonderful hosts at God's Pocket Resort and Jenifer Harbour, our amazing yoga teacher, for a week we'll never forget! (Incidentally Jen will be leading yoga on our 31 March and 7 April 2013 Baja tours - if interested book by 1 Sept 2012, as they will fill up fast!)
This fabulous trip in BC capped off a run of 3 sold-out lodge-based sea kayak trips in BC in July 2012, as it turns out kayaking daily from the comforts of a cozy lodge is wildly popular! So popular in fact, that we are now taking bookings for June and July 2013 - $100 off the current 2012 price if booked by 1 October 2012! Look for a future yoga God's Pocket trip as well, as the yoga before and after kayaking was a perfect complement to keep us loose and ready for the day's paddling. This yoga trip was so popular we had to turn away people who tried to book the month before the trip, so we do recommend booking early. The lodge only has 7 rooms, and we have exclusive use of the lodge each June and July when our kayak groups are there. The lodge is only reachable by boat or seaplane.
God's Pocket Resort is the only lodge permitted inside God's Pocket Provincial Park, a pristine island archipelago and world famous cold water SCUBA dive site, just offshore of Port Hardy, the main hub of northern Vancouver Island, in lovely British Columbia, Canada. The prolific underwater life attracts all manner of marine mammals, including the humpback whales, Stellar's sea lions, harbor seals, Dall's porpoise that we saw this week, and the sea otter we saw last week there. Other mammals we saw this week included a mink and several deer on the seaweed covered shore.
We were a widely divergent group who bonded quickly over the 40 min boat ride 23 July 2012 to the lodge aboard the lodge boat "The Hurst Isle" captained by Bill Weeks, and after settling our luggage into our cozy rooms, the warm up hike to nearby Duck Bay. After a wonderful lunch we had a paddle talk on the sundeck by our capable guides, Sarah and Renee, then off for our first introductory paddle along the shores of Hurst Island. Yoga then happy hour on the sundeck, followed by a sumptuous feast whipped up with loving detail by lodge co-owner Annie and a nature video of the underwater sea life of God's Pocket Provincial Park, made us all feel we had done 2 days worth of activity all in our first day!
Sleeping at God's Pocket is literally like sleeping in the cradle of heaven - the lovely silence perhaps punctuated by a whale's blow in the channel, the brilliant stars, the bioluminescence, the soft but firm beds with flannel sheets and comforters reminiscent of childhood. Each night we'd sleep soundly knowing that morning brought steaming coffee and tea at 6:45 am followed by yoga at 7 am, then a hearty breakfast before we set off paddling for the day with a gourmet packed lunch and our experienced sea kayak guides.
Each day's paddle brought sightings of humpback whales and the dramatic sound of their blows - the last day of paddling they were just meters away at one point! We were thrilled to know from the lodge owners that the whales are returning in numbers not seen for decades. We circumnavigated Hurst and Bell Islands one day and Balaclava Island another day, and paddled to a manned lighthouse for a tour another day, with visits to First Nations midden sites, a fish farm and unique intertidal areas along the way while guides gave talks on bull kelp and wildlife. We learned there are several hikes on Hurst Island as well, one can do right from God's Pocket Resort.
Each afternoon our bodies unwound with the relaxing yoga on the sundeck after the day spent kayaking, then we talked over the day's adventures and observations over happy hour and dinner before collapsing in bed by 10 each night. What a lovely way to spend a week - a dream vacation!
We look forward to sharing this truly unique paradise with you June and July 2013! Here's to many more adventures!
Nancy Mertz, one of the founders of Sea Kayak Adventures, just back from the last God's Pocket Resort lodge-based trip of the season, reports:
In view of headlines about violence along the U.S. border, many people are wondering about the safety of visiting Mexico. Keep in mind that Mexico is a big and diverse country, so violence along the U.S. border towns won't have any effect on your vacation in Loreto any more than violence in Miami would affect people in Chicago. Most of the violence that has taken place recently is due to conflicts between drug cartels and the Mexican authorities in just four cities and there's no reason to condemn the rest of the country, especially Loreto and the surrounding state of Baja California Sur.
This week was amazing from start to finish, with orca encounters to take your breath away! Guests on our Johnstone Strait Base Camp tour Aug 15-18 on northern Vancouver Island were thrilled to view over 60 killer whales! We observed pods: A30′s, I15′s, A23′s, A35′s & Springer, A36′s, A12, A34′s and the A24 matrilines of fish-eating "northern resident" killer whales feasting on the peak salmon runs. Quite often it seemed like everywhere you turned there were killer whales!
One word: Orcas.
If you're traveling any part of the Pacific Northwest next to sounds, straits or any other killer-whale-friendly bodies, your job -- nay, your obligation -- is to find a pod of orcas post-haste and fill a memory card with pictures. Sea Kayak Adventures wants to make this happen for you and is running a three-day Labor Day weekend outing Sept. 3-5 that includes a guided sea kayak tour with camping along the Johnstone Strait off northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
The package is $995 per adult and $889 per child and includes kayaks, camping accommodations, meals, instruction and guides. It also takes visitors to one of the few places where they are guaranteed to see orcas without watching them do backflips into steel tanks with wetsuit-clad trainers on their backs. Johnstone Strait is home to the world's only Orca preserve - Robson Bight.
Article by Brad Nahill, Director of SEE Turtles
It seems that every day another news article comes out about animals facing extinction. The list of reasons is seemingly endless including loss of habitat, the wildlife trade, and climate change. What the media rarely covers is the stories of hope, where communities come together to protect the animals that live around them. There are many of these stories around the world, where dedicated conservationists are coming up with innovative ways to help these endangered species recover while improving the lives of local residents. Many of these programs include volunteer activities for travelers to participate in research and conservation programs.
Here are just a few of the opportunities for travelers to help wildlife:
Green Sea Turtles in Baja: Years ago, many turtle researchers wrote off Baja’s turtles as beyond saving. However, an award-winning network of fishermen, scientists, and local residents called the Grupo Tortuguero formed to study and protect the region’s five species of sea turtles and numbers are rebounding. A new locally run business called RED Sustainable Tourism is helping these conservationists recruit volunteer help for their turtle research. Participants camp on a small island in Magdalena Bay and help to set nets to catch green turtles at sea and collect information on them before returning them to the water. Sea Kayak Adventures is partnering with RED Sustainable Tourism to offer an exciting Conservation Adventure package along the Baja Peninsula, Mexico in March 2012. Join us for the trip of a lifetime while directly supporting community-based conservation of endangered green sea turtles.
Read more about the other four wild animals.
Baja Sea Turtle photo by Elizabeth Moreno.Tags: Magdalena Bay, Sea of Cortez, Loreto, conservation, sea turtles
It was an amazing trip up in God's Pocket this week with a great group of people. Highlights included a sea otter sighting and our host Bill playing with a giant pacific octopus (click here to see the octopus video)! We saw some amazing wildlife including a humpback whale, porpoises, and seals. During the trip we circumnavigated several islands, and visited an ancient First Nation's midden. Mid-week we hiked to Harlequin Bay to view the old-growth cedar trees, and later paddled to the Scarlett Point Lighthouse for a tour led by the lighthouse keeper. Perfect paddling weather, just a bit of rain and no wind all week. We capped off our trip with an amazing night paddle in the bio-luminescence. Everybody enjoyed the incredible meals prepared by Shona, especially her baking! It's back to the gym and cottage cheese.
In view of headlines about violence along the U.S. border, many people are wondering about the safety of visiting Mexico. Keep in mind that Mexico is a big and diverse country, so violence along the U.S. border towns won't have any effect on your vacation in Loreto any more than violence in Miami would affect people in Chicago. Most of the violence that has taken place recently is due to conflicts between drug cartels and the Mexican authorities. As a tourist in southern Baja, 700 miles south of the border, you can have a tranquil, relaxing vacation so long as you use the normal precautions you would in any other vacation spot. Hundreds of Americans and Canadians who visited Loreto this past winter and spring were enjoying their vacations with no hassles or problems.
What an fantastic week for wildlife sightings on our July 17-22 Johnstone Strait Orca Waters Expedition. We saw a humpback whale from our kayaks (we could hear its deep breaths), porpoises, bald eagles, seals, sea lions, and even a minke whale. We found several wolf tracks while hiking in the forest and we listened to their howls one night. But the thrill-of-a-lifetime moment came when a pod of resident killer whales arrived in front of our campsite to rub on the beach gravels just a few meters from where we were standing! We quickly placed an underwater microphone (hydrophone) in the water and heard some amazing vocalizations from these fish-eating orcas. And, to top it all off, we had flat calm seas which made the paddling quite enjoyable, we really are in paradise!Tags: trip report, kayak with orcas, kayak with whales, whale watching
On our first Johnstone Strait orca kayak tour of the season last week, we were thrilled to see orcas, humpback whales, Dall's porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphins and harbor seals, and a wonderful time was had by all. We still have room this July and August on our 4 and 6-day paddling tours in Johnstone Strait, northern Vancouver Island, home to the world's only orca preserve Robson Bight Ecological Preserve - the best place we've found to be close to orcas in pristine wilderness.Tags: sea kayak, Dolphins, porpoises, kayak orcas, orca kayak, kayak with orcas, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait
BC Canada - The northern resident salmon-eating orcas are back in Johnstone Strait, as per 2 whale watching day cruise boats in Johnstone Strait: Stubbs Island and MacKay
Also exciting news reported by Stubbs and MacKay are that there are many more humpback whales than ever before in the area, and they are seeing minke whales, transient orcas, Dall's porpoise and Pacific white-sided dolphins.
It's not too late to book a wildlife kayaking tour of 4 days or 6 days in length, suitable for novices, in Johnstone Strait this summer - we have room still on selected July and August 2011 tours.
BAJA - And a reminder of our special offers for Baja tours! Some folks calling us to book 2012 Easter and spring break trips recently reported that flights to Loreto are already filling fast for prime dates. There is only one carrier into Loreto, only one flight a day, and only 70 seats per flight - so don't miss out if you are planning to visit Loreto soon.
Nancy just flew home from Port McNeill after a pre-season meeting with Terry and our BC guides - we are super excited for the season to begin with such a great team in place! The area is as stunning as ever with still plenty of snow on the BC coastal mountains to serve as our backdrop of paddling the waters of northern Inside Passage.
Some of our favorite things to check out traveling to or from BC's northern Vancouver Island:
1) Bill Reid's Jade Canoe sculpture at the Vancouver International Airport is the size of a VW bus and the airport's focal feature.
2) Tim Horton's restaurant chain (lovingly called Timmy's) is the coffee/breakfast sandwich/donut place beloved by BC folks of all walks of life.
3) The Whale Interpretive Centre/Museum at Telegraph Cove
4) Umista Cultural Centre - Alert Bay - if you have an extra day in Port McNeill
5) Half day or full day orca cruises with Stubbs Island or Bill Mackay
1. Do whales sleep? Not the way we do. Because breathing is a conscious act for whales, they cannot sleep for very long periods, and they need to move up and down to the surface, keep moving to prevent stranding and watch for potential dangers, so they do not fall deeply asleep. They must rest, but they require very little sleep. Evidence suggests that whales require less sleep because the marine environment induces a brain state that resembles sleep. Even humans who spend a lot of time in the water, require less sleep. Whale relatives, dolphins and porpoises are able to “sleep” half their brain at a time.Tags: southern right whales, orcas, humpback whales, whale watching, FAQ
Why this trip:
1. It’s home to the only orca preserve in the world Robson Bight;
2. The “Jane Goodall”of orcas (scientist Alexandra Morton has studied these unique orcas here for years);
3. The single best time and place in the world to paddle with these salmon-eating orcas when the salmon runs peak;
4. Sheltered location perfect for novices new to sea kayaking;
5. We provide all gear and instruction, hearty meals and naturalist guides - just bring yourselves!
Additional details about this trip can be found here!
"I was impressed with the organization of SKA down to every detail. You guys really run a responsible, tightly managed outfit. I also enjoyed paddling alongside the dolphins and the whale watching excu..."Lori Mayfield