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 Home > Travel BC > BC Cities and Towns > The Islands  > Alert Bay

Alert Bay
The small community of Alert Bay is situated on Cormorant Island which is located across from Vancouver Island at the north end of Johnstone Strait.

Cormorant Island
Cormorant Island is crescent-shaped, about 1 km (.6 mile) wide by 5 km (3 miles) long with Alert Bay geographically situated in the middle of the island on the sunny south-west side. Alert Bay sits across Broughton Strait in between the north-eastern Vancouver Island community of Port McNeill and the marina at Telegraph Cove.

Captain George Vancouver
The settlement of this part of northern Vancouver Island dates back to the late 1700s when Captain George Vancouver anchored the vessel, HMS Discovery, at the First Nation village of Xwalkw across Broughton Strait near the mouth of the 'Namgis or Nimpkish River.

Trading Centre
Later in the mid 1800s, Alert Bay became a major trading centre for the movement and settlement of Europeans along the coast of northern Vancouver Island. Afterwards the community flourished, living off fishing and the bounty of seafood found in the nearby ocean waters.

BC Ferries from Port McNeill
In order to get to Alert Bay, you have to travel to Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island where you catch a scheduled daily BC Ferries tri-service to Alert Bay or Sointula. The ferry usually takes around 30 minutes with an alternating schedule between Port McNeill to Sointula and back and Port McNeill to Alert Bay and back. Please check BC Ferries for the latest schedule to find the best connection times.

'Namgis First Nation
Alert Bay is also home to the 'Namgis First Nation, whose presence is quite evident as you tour Cormorant Island. This very rich 'Namgis First Nation Native tradition is proudly displayed prominently throughout Cormorant Island in forms of public artwork of totem poles and traditional Native buildings such as the 'Big House.'

U'mista Cultural Society
If you enjoy British Columbian First Nation artwork, view the beautiful displays of the 'Namgis First Nation presented at U'mista Cultural Centre with the main exhibit being the world-famous potlatch collection. There are also various artists and one-of-a-kind galleries working within the U'mista Cultural Society bringing you the very best in traditional Native culture.

Alert Bay Heritage
When you are visiting Alert Bay, try walking around the village enjoying a view of the old heritage buildings from BC coastal history. The museum here depicts lots of old pictures and articles from the past with emphasis on local events concerning this part of British Columbia discoveries. The museum is located in the Visitor Centre near the Alert Bay ferry terminal.

Alert Bay has various other interesting things for you to do and discover. Eco-Tourism, in the form of wildlife watching, is very popular with pods of whales, orcas, and other marine life constantly migrating through Johnstone Strait to the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park, situated just north of Alert Bay.

Scenic Panoramic Views
For one of the most scenic views on North Vancouver Island, make sure you visit the Nimpkish Hotel. The hotel pub has an incredibly large outside deck where the panoramic view is absolutely wonderful. For other entertainment and accommodation, there is also the Bayside Inn which features a hotel, café and pub.

Airplane Service
If you want to fly, there is a scheduled plane service into Port Hardy with limousine service to the BC Ferries terminal at Port McNeill. From Port McNeill you can take a taxi to Alert Bay or walk on as a passenger and stroll around the island. There is also a small landing strip in Alert Bay for charter or private aircraft.

Sointula and Malcolm Island
Located just north of Alert Bay and Cormorant Island is the community of Sointula which is situated on Malcolm Island. Sointula is a fishing, artist and retirement community that became popular with people settling from Finland who first arrived in 1901. The word Sointula in Finnish means "Place of harmony."

If you would enjoy staying at Alert Bay there is the Alert Lodge, Janet's Guest House and Oceanview Cabins. For RV Camping, there is Alert Bay Campground which is located next to Gator Gardens and the Ecological Park.

Information on Alert Bay



Map of area
click map for larger image


Photo of the Mouth of the Nimpkish River
Mouth of the Nimpkish River


Photo of a BC Ferries Vessel
BC Ferries


Photo of the 'Namgis First Nation "Big House"
'Big House'


Photo of the U'mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay
U'mista Cultural Centre

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