Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best weather?
The weather on Haida Gwaii is changeable and usually not accurately predictable more than a day or two in advance. July and August provide the best chance for decent kayaking and camping weather.
How much kayaking experience is required?
Many of our tours are suitable for relatively inexperienced kayakers; however, dependable reflexes and practical levels of balance, fitness and coordination are necessary. When these physical capabilities are combined with appropriate group awareness and a positive attitude, people generally become able to appreciate and enjoy touring at optimum cruising speed in our single kayaks.
How long do we kayak each day?
We generally do more kayaking on calm days and less on windy days. We may spend one or more days on shore. Depending on conditions, we may paddle two to five hours in a day. After a couple of hours in the kayaks we typically go ashore to stretch our legs and enjoy lunch before returning to sea.
For details, please see: Personal Preparation
What level of fitness is necessary?
These kayaking experiences are designed for participants who are reasonably able-bodied. Dependable reflexes, as well as practical levels of balance, fitness and coordination are necessary, yet there is no need for our guests to be accomplished athletes.
For more information, please see: Personal Preparation
Can I have a private tent?
Yes, we provide enough tents so that each person can sleep in their own private shelter if they wish.
For more information, please see: Equipment
Is there an age limit?
We have no specific age limit; however, many of our trips are likely not suitable for pre-teen children. Families with pre-teens would probably have a better experience by arranging a custom tour designed specifically for their group. The Kayak Guesthouse Vacation can be tailored to suit family groups; please contact Gord for details.
Is a double kayak available?
A Necky Looksha T double kayak is available in Rose Harbour; however, we do not provide a paddling partner for the double. (We provide each person with the opportunity to paddle a single kayak.) If you would prefer paddling the double, please be sure to arrive with a paddling partner.
Can I bring my own paddle, PFD or kayak?
Bringing your own paddle and/or PFD (personal flotation device) is fine, provided the PFD is Transport Canada approved and not inflatable.
Bringing your own kayak could involve additional costs.
Will your kayaks fit me?
Our fleet of fibreglass Seaward Tyee kayaks can comfortably fit a wide range of people; Tyees are relatively spacious single kayaks. Two of our Tyees are high-volume models, making them even roomier for long-legged people. Before registering on a trip, it is recommended that particularly large people try out a high-volume Seaward Tyee (with a standard-sized cockpit) to ensure that the kayak will fit them. An individual may reserve one of our high-volume Tyees; please contact Gord for details.
Very tall people with long legs and large feet are encouraged to carefully consider their kayaking footwear options: Booties with thin, flexible soles will enhance your ability to use the rudder pedals. Kayaking footwear with thick, inflexible soles or with thick padding on heels and toes can make kayaking uncomfortable for very tall people with long legs and large feet.
Smaller people are encouraged to consider the option of bringing "volleyball-style" knee pads, as those with shorter legs may find thick kneepads help them to fit into the kayak more comfortably and securely.
Can I just rent your kayaks?
Sorry, we do not rent our equipment. Our kayaks are provided only to our tour guests and expedition participants. Kayak rentals are available through Moresby Explorers.
Why is Butterfly Tours more expensive?
Our price per person may be higher than other kayak tour operators on Haida Gwaii. This is primarily a result of our smaller group size; we have the smallest guided kayak tour groups in Gwaii Haanas. With smaller groups, we earn less per trip - even when we charge slightly more per person. Numerous additional and unique qualities contribute to our prices.
For details, please see: Why Choose Butterfly Tours?
Can I get a discount?
We offer a few different price-reduction options: Our annual seat sale is held each November and requires full payment in advance. Group discounts are offered to groups of four or more people who register together and provide full payment in advance. Evolution Guide School participants can apply for a scholarship. We may occasionally post discounted trips on our Facebook or Twitter pages. Sorry, we do not offer seniors or children discounts.
Can I register alone?
Yes, we welcome independent travelers; there is no singles supplement. (No surcharge is added to the cost per person when traveling alone.)
Any number of people up to our maximum group size are welcome to register on our trips.
Will you cater to my special dietary requirements?
It is not always possible for us to cater to an individual's specific food preferences. If you require specific foods and are considering joining a tour or expedition, please contact Gord to request more information before registering on a trip.
For details, please see: Meals
Why does Butterfly Tours focus on the southern tip of Gwaii Haanas?
Sometimes, less is more. The remote, southern tip of Gwaii Haanas encourages this perspective. Our kayak tours concentrate in this distant region; an area that highlights the very best of what Gwaii Haanas has to offer.
For more information, please see: Why Choose Butterfly Tours?
What's the difference between your wilderness kayak journeys?
Waters of SGang Gwaay is suitable for relatively inexperienced paddlers, as well as accomplished kayakers.
Cape Freeman and Evolution expeditions are designed for kayakers who have accumulated some experience and developed reasonable boat-handling skills.
For detailed information, please see: Flexible Itineraries
When should I arrive in Sandspit?
Participants are requested to arrive in Sandspit at least one day prior to trip departure. It is often preferable to schedule your arrival two days early, in order to have extra time to deal with the potential for delayed baggage, or missed flight connections. It is generally best to stay in Sandspit the night before your kayak trip, as you may depart early on the first day.
For more information, please see: Travel to Sandspit
What is the best way to travel to Sandspit?
There are numerous options for your journey, please see: Travel to Sandspit
What can I do before and after the kayak trip?
Guests are encouraged to enjoy additional days on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) before and after their kayak trip. There are many additional travel opportunities on Haida Gwaii, including visits to museums, beach hiking, fishing and exploring the Islands' communities. We highly recommend the Haida Heritage Centre - a focal point of Haida culture in Skidegate.
For more information, please see the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre.
Where can I store items in Sandspit while I am on the kayak trip?
Seaport Bed & Breakfast will store items for their guests.
When should I depart Sandspit?
Participants are requested to make return travel arrangements for the day following the trip, or later. It is generally best to stay in Sandspit the last night of your kayak trip, as you will likely return late on the last day.
For more information, please see: Travel to Sandspit
Is there cell phone reception?
Most cell phones work near Seaport B&B in Sandspit. There is no cell phone reception in the wilderness regions we kayak through, or in the remote community of Rose Harbour. Your guide carries a satellite phone for emergency communication during the trip.
When is a trip likely to become sold out?
Unfortunately, we have not found a reliable method for accurately predicting when a trip may sell out. Trip reservations have a rhythm of their own and can fill quite suddenly when groups register together.
For trip space availability, please see: Dates & Prices
Can you hold my space without a deposit?
We are flexible and we will do what we can to assist you. It is generally possible to hold space for an hour or two while you make arrangements for your travel to Sandspit. Holding space without a deposit for more than two hours becomes complicated when there are only a few spaces available on a trip. When you are ready to register by paying a deposit, we will accept your reservation unless another person has the space on hold for an hour or two.
Please contact us for more information.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, international credit card transactions can be completed via PayPal Online Deposits. We also accept Visa, MasterCard & American Express payments by phone for CAD $500 per person deposits.
For more information, please see: Payment Options
Is smoking permitted?
Smokers rarely join our tours. When someone wants to smoke tobacco on a trip, we ask they ensure no one else will detect the scent. Smokers are requested to walk far downwind before lighting up. Smoking while in the kayaks is discouraged. Additionally, we ask that a portable ashtray is used. Thank you for your consideration.
Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, no. Pets are not invited on any of our trips.
(This is not actually a frequently asked question, although it was asked at least once.)
How are these companies related?
Your guide Gord is the sole proprietor of these three companies:
Gord works closely with these companies:
Guests will require accommodation in Sandspit before and after the kayak trip. We recommend Seaport Bed & Breakfast. Moresby Explorers has owned and operated Seaport B&B since 2010. Recently, the accommodations were completely updated.
Ocean Light II Adventures
The Ocean Light II is a beautifully appointed 71’ ketch-rigged sailboat. Our Kayak Mothership Cruise is provided by two companies working in close cooperation. Butterfly Tours and Ocean Light II Adventures combine resources to make this unique journey possible.
Rose Harbour Guesthouse
Rose Harbour resident, Götz Hanisch, hand-built this wilderness guesthouse. Butterfly Tours arranges accommodation at the guesthouse on the last night of our kayak trips. Götz is also a very talented musician.
You are welcome to contact Gord if you have additional questions.