Desirable Destination: British Columbia
Sensational Sunlight | August
Obviously the ideal time to cruise the waters of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska is during the summer. The weather is mild, the days are long, and animals are literally everywhere you turn. And because Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the waters of both areas, it’s a must-visit stop on any Inside Passage cruising itinerary.
Given its annual rainfall of about 100 inches, I wouldn’t exactly consider Prince Rupert “dry.” But late July and August are the driest months, with average temperatures ranging in the mid- to upper 70s and about 17 hours of daylight. While that amount of daylight is somewhat disorienting in terms of figuring out when to eat and sleep, it does translate into a lot of time for sightseeing, which is a good thing, because the small city offers a ton for boaters and landlubbers alike.
Tie up at the Prince Rupert Yacht Club (shown above), which reportedly has the third-deepest natural harbor in the world. That’s why cruise ships occasionally dock nearby, so try and time your visit accordingly, as navigating the small town will be comparatively unpleasant while hoards of cruise-ship passengers are in town. (There were no ships in port when I visited last year.)
Now comes the challenging part: Deciding what to do. The yacht club is located right in the heart of the Cow’s Bay section, where colorful boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops line the streets. My favorite is Cowpuccino’s, an eclectic coffee house that offers great atmosphere with its displays from local artisans and occasional live music, outrageous desserts, and gourmet coffees and teas from around the world. With all those hours of daylight and two full days in town, I squeezed in more than a few trips there for caffeine--well, okay, and also for their coconut and chocolate chip granola bars, which, you should know, are strangely addictive for anyone with limited willpower. (Grab a few to go, too!)
If you’re in the mood for a low-key, historic visit, I suggest taking a tour of the North Pacific Cannery, one of British Columbia’s last remaining coastal cannery villages.
But adventure seekers should do what I did: Hop in a taxi, head over to the Island Air Terminal, and keep your camera handy as you enjoy the views during a 30-minute seaplane ride to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Once you land you’ll board a Zodiac for a two-hour tour of some of the most extraordinary wildlife scenes you can imagine: bears in the woods, bald eagles overhead, orcas and sea lions in the water, and more. At $400 the tour isn’t cheap, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Round out your time in Prince Rupert with dinner at Rain Dining Lounge, a trendy restaurant that is more in keeping with New York City’s East Village than with British Columbia’s rustic wilderness. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the Yacht Club, and the combination of Asian flavors and local seafood like king crab and halibut will surely make for a memorable meal.
The best part: It’ll still be daylight as you make your way back to the dock, which is more than enough reason to stop back in at Cowpuccino’s for a nightcap...and dessert.
January: British Virgin Islands
February: Great Abaco Island / Bahamas
March: Little Harbor Cay / Bahamas
April: Los Sueños / Costa Rica
July: Washington, D.C.
August: British Columbia
September: Montauk, Long Island
October: Hudson River, New York
November: Half Moon Cay / Belize
December: St. Barts
This article originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.