Port McNeill: 198km (123 miles) N of Campbell River
It's a winding 198km (123-mile) drive through forested mountains along the Island Highway (Hwy. 19) from Campbell River to Port McNeill, on northern Vancouver Island. But the majestic scenery, crystal-clear lakes, and unique wilderness along the way make it worthwhile.
The highway rejoins the coast along Johnstone Strait, home to a number of orca (killer whale) pods, which migrate annually from the Queen Charlotte Strait south to these salmon-rich waters. Whale-watching trips out of Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove are the principal recreational activities; this is one of the most noted whale-watching areas in British Columbia.
Also worth a visit is the island community of Alert Bay, a traditional First Nations townsite festooned with totem poles and carvings. The museum houses a famous collection of ceremonial masks and other artifacts.
The Island Highway's terminus, Port Hardy, is 52km (32 miles) north of Port McNeill. Although it's a remote community of only 5,470, Port Hardy is the starting point for two adventures along the rugged Pacific coast: the Inside Passage ferry cruise to Prince Rupert and the Discovery Coast ferry cruise to Bella Bella, with road access to the B.C. interior.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.