The Haida Gwaii is one of British Columbia’s most hidden secret. The name means Island of the People and it is home to lush and unique rainforests, beaches and protected heritage sites, filled with a variety of species of flora and fauna.
The Haida Gwaii is a collection of smaller islands that are isolated from British Columbia, Canada. About ten years ago, this area was known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Thanks to an agreement between the government of British Columbia and the people of Haida, the island’s name was officially changed to reflect the native culture.
The Haida are the indigenous occupants of the islands. According to archaeological and geological studies, they have been living there for the past 12,000 years. The Haida people have deeply rooted culture and traditions. They have kept their heritage sites safe, even with occasional visits from tourists.
The heritage sites located across the islands include: Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. These locations can only be visited by boat or floatplane.
The Gwaii Haanas is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site of SGang Gwaay. It’s a row of carefully carved standing poles, from a single cedar trunk. These poles date back as far as from the late 1800’s and are the largest collection of monument poles that are still intact in their original form.
If you’re planning to make a trip to these gorgeous islands that seem like a dreamlike escape from reality, you need to be aware of a few requirements for visitors. Firs, the islands only accept visitors that sign a pledge to obey and adhere the rules of the Haida people. This includes respecting nature and only taking what you need. Visitors, who intend to visit need to learn the ways of the Haida people beforehand.
There are also various quaint villages that only allow 12 visitors at a time, to step onshore. So, if you want to see a different Canada and are eager to discover places that are not flooded with tourists, then the Haida Gwaii is the perfect place for you.
Visiting the island itself doesn’t require permission, but certain areas on the island are restricted and can only be accessed with the assistance of Indigenous guides.