We've just got back from a long tiring but amazing tour of BC and the Rockies in West Canada. After Vancouver, we had little choice but to book an overnight stay in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island while awaiting the ferry to do the 'Inside Passage' trip upto Prince Rupert. Here's a quick low-down on the town of Port Hardy, North Vancouver Island.
We arrived by plane from Vancouver on a Pacific Coastal flight of 1 hour 20 minutes. Shame the weather was very cloudy as we were hoping to see the Island from above but that just wasn't to be that day. We were in Port Hardy in late May 2006.
The town or should I say village ... plays host to a bombardment of tourists who are awaiting the early morning departure of the ferry boat to do the famous 'Inside Passage' trip to Prince Rupert. Every other day, coach loads of tourists arrive and fill the sleepy towns Hotels to the point of bursting and then all is calm for another day! The best advice to anyone booking a hotel is to book very well in advance as it won't be easy to simply arrive and expect any hotel vacancies the night before a ferry departure!
The town is very quiet generally with next to nothing to do except call into a local bar or restaurant and drink and eat till you drop! The scenery is of course fantastic, as is the majority of the area with small coves, beaches, forests and open sea. If you're lucky you WILL see whales, seals, bald eagles and the occassional bear crossing the road!
A nature lovers paradise without a doubt but with little to do except do a spot of walking, fishing or if you've the time, hiring a boat for a couple of hours to see the islands around the small bay or go whale watching. The hotels and boat hire in the area are expensive obviously cashing in heavily on the tourist feast every other day. We were disappointed with the hotel, as we paid the same as a superior hotel in Vancouver and really all we got was a basic hotel with basic room and facilities. But with no choice, you do feel a little ripped off! However, the folk in the township are friendly and hospitable and the hotel staff were helpful if not a bit stressed with an incoming coach of visitors late evening. We stayed at the Quarterdeck hotel. Comfortable but poor value for money but within easy reach of the ferry port at 4 in the morning!! A shuttle service is always available for getting from airport to hotel or visa versa and the early morning drive to the ferry! Once again not cheap but essential...
Have a little walk down the town while you're there, check out the local steak house on the left of the main road opposite the information centre. Good food, we recommend their fresh clam chowder... but a bit pricey! There's about 6 or 7 bars/restaurants to choose from and this seemed to be the most inviting to us!
Small, friendly but terribly quiet. Great as a starting point, giving you a day or half day to relax before your long journey begins. The flight from Vancouver is expensive but comfortable and on time from the south terminal at Richmond. Don't make the mistake of confusing the domestic flight departures area at North Terminal... it's about 6 miles due south and you need to get a taxi or shuttle (runs hourly!). Good thing is you can check in your luggage upto 10 mins before flight time... unheard of in the UK!!!
Have a good trip... by the way, the ferry on the 'Inside Passage' is magnificent especially the last 6 hours of the trip and around sunset, that's about 11.30pm in May! Book a cabin, it's a long journry and you really will need your privacy and somewhere to get your head down, if only for several hours!