Diving is excellent in the Port Hardy area. North Island Diving and Kayaking, 8625 Shipley St. (tel. 250/902-0565; www.odysseykayaking.com), is a full-service dive service, with rentals, instruction, and guided dives. Guided kayak trips and rental kayaks are also available. For more information on diving in the region, follow the links at www.3routes.com.
From Port Hardy, you can arrange day charter trips with local outfitters. Catala Charters and Lodge (tel. 800/515-5511 or 250/949-7560; www.catalacharters.net) offers guided 4-hour fishing trips for up to four people for C$500. Codfather Charters (tel. 250/949-6696; www.codfathercharters.com) offers year-round multiday fishing charters and accommodations in a waterfront lodge.
To simply rent a boat, contact Hardy Bay Boat Rental, Quarterdeck Marina at 6555 Hardy Bay Rd. (tel. 250/949-7048 or 250/949-0155; www.hardybayfishing.com). Rates start at C$22 per hour or C$190 per day.
Port Hardy is the stepping-off point for trips to remote fishing camps, many with long pedigrees and well-to-do clientele. One of the only camps directly accessed from Port Hardy is Duval Point Lodge (tel. 250/949-6667; www.duvalpointlodge.com), which offers multiday packages from its base camp about 8km (5 miles) north of town (accessed by boat). Guests receive a short training session; groups are then given their own boat and pointed to the channel. From here on, you keep your own schedule and run expeditions as you see fit. Guests stay in two, two-story floating lodges, each with four bedrooms, a mix of private and shared bathrooms, and a full kitchen. The outfitter provides rod and reel, bait, boat, cleaning area, and freezers. Guests do their own cooking. Guides are available, though part of the fun here is the satisfaction of running your own boat and interacting with other guests. The lodge also has two land-based log cabins, each with three bedrooms. Anyone who comes in their own boat can stay in these cabins; rates start at C$570 for 4 midweek nights. Boat/lodging packages start at C$970 for 4 nights/5 days of fishing and accommodations. The lodge is closed October through May. Duval Point is not for those looking for five-star comforts and pampering. But if you want access to excellent fishing and adventure with congenial hospitality, it's a great value.
If you are looking for creature comforts, one of the area's most famous and upscale fishing lodges is Nimmo Bay Resort (tel. 800/837-HELI  or 250/956-4000; www.nimmobay.com), a full-service floating resort where 3 days/3 nights at the lodge and fishing with transportation by helicopter will run you around C$7,250 per person. Access is by floatplane or boat.
North Island Diving and Kayaking, 8625 Shipley St. (tel. 888/792-3366 or 250/902-0565; www.odysseykayaking.com), gives guided day trips to islands in the protected waters of Beaver Harbour near Port Hardy starting at C$99. Rates include lunch and transportation. Kayak rentals are also available.
Hiking Cape Scott
Cape Scott Provincial Park is a 21,870-hectare (54,042-acre) coastal wilderness at the northwest tip of Vancouver Island. Cape Scott is true wilderness, preserving magnificent areas of coastal British Columbia, with little development other than trails. But for visitors looking to experience primal forests and miles of wild beaches, the park is a magical destination. The trail head for all park trails, in the extreme southeast corner of the park, is reached by a 67km (42-mile) part-paved, part-gravel road from Port Hardy. From there, follow signs for Winter Harbour or Holberg, and follow signs for the park from Holberg.
The park is characterized by 64km (40 miles) of spectacular ocean frontage, including about 23km (14 miles) of wide, sandy beaches, running from Nissen Bight in the north to San Josef Bay in the south and interspersed with rocky promontories and headlands. Nels Bight, midway between the eastern boundary of the park near Nissen Bight and the Cape Scott Lighthouse, is a 3km-long (1 3/4-mile), white-sand beach; it's considered the most impressive of the nine beaches in the park. Hansen Lagoon is a stopping place for Canada geese and a variety of waterfowl traveling the Pacific Flyway. Deer, elk, black bear, otter, cougars, and wolves are in evidence in the forested and open uplands, and seals and sea lions inhabit offshore islands.
The easiest and most popular hike in the park is the 2.5km (1.6-mile) one-way from the trail head to San Josef Bay. The trail leads through forest along the San Josef River, reaching the beach in about 45 minutes. Once at the beach, you can explore the ruins of the Henry Ohlsen home and post office, a relic of the Danish settlements of the early 1900s. The first section of beach is wide and white, flanked by rocky cliffs, and makes a great spot for a picnic. San Josef Bay is also a good place to explore by kayak; surfers ride the high waves here as well.
For long-distance hikers, the highlight of the park is the 24km (15-mile) one-way trail out to the Cape Scott Lighthouse at the very northern tip of Vancouver Island. Most hikers manage it in 3 days, with 2 nights spent at Nels Bight campground -- which means you won't be carrying your gear on the final leg to Cape Scott. Nels Bight is a spectacular coastline of sand and rocky beaches, and is a popular place to camp; fresh water is available.
There is no best time to visit the park, although midsummer is generally preferred, as the trails are less muddy. Facilities in the park are minimal. Be sure to wear waterproof boots, and if you're spending the night, be prepared for sudden changes of weather any time of year. For more information, contact BC Parks District Manager (tel. 250/954-4600; www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks).