British Columbia's Yachters' Paradise

Cruise British Columbia aboard a boutique yacht

From $3,695

Rates & Dates
  • Itinerary
  • Rates and Dates
  • Ports and Places
  • Land Packages
  • Vessels



Unleash your inner explorer and settle into the rhythm of the Salish Sea—on both sides of the United States/Canadian border. There’ll be plenty of time for discovering the area’s wildlife and wonders.


  • Adventure cruise
  • Kayak in Princess Louisa Inlet and hike to Chatterbox Falls
  • Search for orcas, eagles, and Dall’s porpoise
  • High Tea at Victoria’s Empress Hotel and leisure time to explore
  • Visit the Whale Museum in quaint Friday Harbor
  • Hike and tide pool hunt on Jedediah Island, the most diverse of the Gulf Islands
  • Gunkholing in a yachters’ paradise
  • Cruise the Seattle waterfront
  • Boutique yacht—only 22 guests

Departure Dates & Rates

Select year and month

There are no future departures for this cruise;

Your day-by-day details

Roundtrip Seattle, Washington



Seattle, Washington – Embarkation
Transfer to the Safari Quest at Seattle’s waterfront, where the crew greets you with champagne and smiles. Set sail in time for cocktail hour and dinner as you cruise into the Salish Sea.


Victoria, British Columbia
After clearing customs, it’s all ashore in downtown Victoria. Take High Tea at the elegant Empress Hotel, then spend time on your own to visit the Royal British Columbia Museum or browse the quaint shops nuzzled about this garden city. Back on board the yacht, set sail through the Gulf Islands and settle into the rhythm of the Salish Sea.


Sunshine Coast / Princess Louisa Inlet
Discover nature’s wonders today off the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Small group skiff rides keep you busy in a sheltered bay or along rugged shoreline, where sea lions, tide pools, driftwood, and superb birding are common sights. Pass through the Malibu Rapids into the calm waters of Princess Louisa Inlet, one of the most beautiful locations on earth. Only half a mile wide and walled in by 7,000-foot, near-vertical mountains, The Princess culminates at the tremendous Chatterbox Falls. Anchor in the inlet for exploration on foot and by kayak. The evening offers up relaxation in the upper deck hot tub or, when conditions are right, campfire camaraderie with your yachtmates.


Princess Louisa Inlet / Jervis Inlet
Watch the early light play through Princess Louisa Inlet, brightening your morn. Set aside time for one last paddle or exploring the inlet by skiff before heading out to the “yachter’s paradise” of Jervis Inlet. Binoculars in-hand, keep all eyes open for orca, porpoise, seals, and sea lions along the rocky shoreline as you cruise through the waters of Princess Royal Reach.


Harmony Islands / Jedediah Island
Wake up with a guided kayak or skiff outing among the remote Harmony Islands. During lunch onboard, take in the sights around you. Arriving at Jedediah Island—the most diverse island in a chain of more than thirty islands and islets—hike and investigate the tide pools with your knowledgeable crew in this provincial park.


Captain's Choice - Gulf Islands
Situated in the heart of the Salish Sea, today's passage carries you south, back into the protected waters and intricate passages of the Gulf Islands. Towns throughout these islands harbor artist’s hamlets, organic farms, vineyards, and sublime glacially-carved landscapes in a backdrop painted with harbor seals, bald eagles, sea lions, and Douglas fir. Your captain navigates to where land and sea explorations await. The location determines the adventure de jour—a coastal hike, explorations in a quaint seaside town, or searches for orcas. It’ll be a treat—wherever the tides take you.


Washington’s San Juan Islands / Friday Harbor
An early start has you meandering through the San Juan Islands—172 islands and rocky islets make up this archipelago. On the largest of the islands, San Juan Island, you’ll clear customs in the tiny town of Friday Harbor before a visit to the intriguing Whale Museum. Learn about the resident pods of orca that call these island waters home before getting underway for a day of “gunkholing,” or exploring, as landlubbers would say. The scenery is stunning and the passages are just right. Be on watch for orca and other marine wildlife. Delight in a festive Captain’s Farewell Dinner this evening and enjoy a picturesque recap of the week with your expedition leader.


Seattle – Disembark
After breakfast on board, the Captain and crew bid you a fond farewell. Safe travels to all!

Passport required. Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary and the order of days may occur to maximize your experience.

Find your next adventure.

Or, search by ship or theme.

Ports & Places

The places you visit play a starring role throughout every journey. While this list isn’t exhaustive of every nook-and-cranny you’ll explore along the way, we’ve included descriptions of key ports and places to help you get to know the wilderness areas, landmark locations, notable regions, and coastal towns relevant to this itinerary.

Departure Dates

Select Year and Month to View Rates

There are no future departures for this cruise;

Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands, Washington

Friday Harbor is located on the eastern side of San Juan Island, the second largest island in the San Juan Islands group. It fronts a natural, protected harbor and is now one of the main commercial centers for the islands.

Originally, this and many other San Juan Islands were temporary summer fish camps for the Coast Salish. Utilizing cedar canoes, they would travel to key locations such as San Juan Island and set up camp to capture and preserve salmon traveling to their spawning grounds from the open ocean. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is the main thoroughfare from the Pacific Ocean to the Salish Sea, making San Juan Island an ideal location to capture salmon. The Lummi, a Coast Salish people, lived on San Juan Island but were relocated to Orcas Island and then to a reservation at Gooseberry Point on the mainland north of Bellingham. Spanish explorers named some of the islands and waterways in this area, but the British and Americans were the primary non-native settlers on San Juan Island, providing colorful accounts of their experiences.

Ship navigators would refer to this protected harbor after its first settler, Joe Friday, and the name stuck – “Friday’s Harbor.” One local legend, however, tells of how the harbor got its name through a misunderstanding of the question, “What bay is this?" misinterpreted as, “What day is this?" However it got its name, Friday Harbor was incorporated in 1909, and is now the county seat for the islands. It is a small, charming community with public access via Washington State Ferries and floatplanes.

The public marina is home port to a multitude of yachts, sailboats, and whale watching charter boats. A 5-minute walk uphill from the marina or ferry landing brings you into the heart of town and a variety of boutiques, galleries, gift shops, and the ever-essential and practical grocery and hardware stores. You can even find every possible kind of salsa and hot sauce made and known to humankind in one of the shops! Entertainment includes the naming of some of these sauces. This is not an activity for the faint of heart.


Gulf Islands, British Columbia

In the same archipelago as Washington State’s San Juan Islands, the Gulf Islands are nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland in the Strait of Georgia. The hundreds of islands and islets that make up the Gulf group are all unique in their landscape, flora and fauna, and for the inhabited islands, in their populations as well. Treasured for their natural beauty, the islands are known for artists colonies, wineries, fromageries, and farms that dot the land.

Due to unspoiled shorelines, wildlife, and abundant forests, the islands are popular for kayaking, boating, hiking and other outdoor pursuits. The climate of the islands supports one of the last remaining Garry Oak ecosystems. Garry Oaks, the only native oak in Western Canada, create an ecosystem that supports more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in British Columbia.


Harmony Islands, British Columbia

Harmony Islands Provincial Park is located in Hotham Sound, to the north side of the entrance to Jervis Inlet. Considered one of the most stunning places in the region, the 31-hectare Harmony Islands are surrounded by steep fjords and a 1,400 foot waterfall, Freil Lake Falls.

This chain of small islands on the Sunshine Coast offers cruising boats a safe anchorage and is a pleasant picnic spot. The warm water offers excellent swimming and kayaking.


Jervis Inlet

Jervis Inlet is the deepest fjord on the British Columbia coast reaching over 2,400’ at its deepest. Made up of three arms, Prince of Wales Reach, Princess Royal Reach, and Queens Reach, the inlet stretches 48 miles from its head at the Skwakwa River to the Strait of Georgia.

The many steep Pacific Range mountains along the inlet were named by George Vancouver for Queen Victoria’s family including Mounts Alfred, Victoria, and Frederick William among many others. The most well-known destination in the Jervis Inlet is the breathtaking Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls.


Princess Louisa Inlet

Named "one of the ten most beautiful locations on Earth" by Conde Nast magazine, Princess Louisa Inlet lies at the northeast end of Jervis Inlet on British Columbia’s coast. Carved by glaciers, the granite walls of the gorge rise sharply from the water’s edge to heights in excess of 7,000 feet.

The ocean waters of Princess Louisa Inlet move constantly with the tides, but currents are practically nonexistent, except for the seven to ten-knot Malibu Rapids at the entrance. The inlet, almost completely enclosed, is 1,000 feet deep and five miles long. It is accessed through Malibu Rapids, home of Malibu - a former private resort and now youth camp.

In June of 1792, while charting the British Columbia coast in a search for the Northwest Passage, Captain George Vancouver explored Jervis Inlet to its end and apparently found the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet but did not enter as the tide was ebbing through Malibu Rapids at the time. The inlet may have been named for Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, whose husband was the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada.


Salish Sea

Located between the south-western tip of British Columbia, and the north-western tip of Washington State, the Salish Sea is made up of the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Puget Sound. This intricate network of waterways is protected from Pacific Ocean storms by Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula.

The title Salish Sea, named for the Coast Salish people who first inhabited this region, was first used in 1988 by Dr. Bert Webber, a marine biologist from Bellingham, Washington who determined that a single name for the entire international ecosystem was needed. Rather than replacing any of the existing names, the title Salish Sea was given to identify the commonality of water, air wildlife and history that spans from Canada to Washington. In 2009, the governments of both Washington and British Columbia adopted the name.

The Salish Sea is home to over 200 different species of fish, 100 different species of birds, 20 different species of marine mammals, over 3,000 different species of invertebrates and 7 million people.


San Juan Islands, Washington

Formed by tectonic activity, glacial sculpting, and the forces of erosion, approximately 450 islands (over 700 during low tide and just 172 named) dot the Salish Sea between southeastern Vancouver Island and northern Washington. Accessible only by air and sea, the views are astounding—on a clear day, you can turn in a circle and see the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, and Vancouver Island. The archipelago’s southern border is the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to its northern edge lies the Straits of Georgia, and to the east is Bellingham Bay and Rosario Straits. The San Juans and Vancouver Island are separated by Haro Strait. In the protective rain shadow of Vancouver Island and the Olympic Mountains, the islands receive half the rain as Seattle, about 15 to 20 inches per year.

The waters are cold, deep, and prolific with life both above and below. Massive schools of salmon travel from the open waters of the Pacific with the flushing tides through Haro and Rosario Straits, making this a favorite hunting ground for resident, salmon-eating orcas (known locally as the J, K, and L Pods.) Transient orcas also travel through this area periodically to prey on marine mammals. The waters are home to minke whales, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise, harbor seals, and sea lions. California gray whales pass by in fall on their way to calve in Hawaiian and Mexican lagoons. In the spring, they will pass by again, heading north to the nutrient-rich waters of Alaska.

Keep an eye out overhead or on the shorelines and rocky outcroppings for cormorants, oystercatchers, tufted puffins, terns, gulls, scoters, bald and golden eagles, turkey vultures, and more! Over 290 different species of birds have been identified in this birdwatcher’s paradise. Eighty-three islands have been designated as National Wildlife Refuges, divided into the four habitats of reefs, rocks, grassy, and forested islands. Each island is unique and has its own stories of natural and human heritage.

The islands are full of rich and colorful history. One particularly unusual chain of events that had a lasting impact on the islands began on San Juan Island. The event began with one small act in 1859 that nearly resulted in a war between Britain and the United States and was called the “Pig War”. It all started when a pig owned by Englishman Charles Griffin of the Hudson’s Bay Company broke into the tasty potato garden of American Lyman Cutlar one too many times. Cutlar shot the pig, admitted to shooting the pig, refused a trial by the British, and sought the United States’ protection. Since it was unclear at that time exactly where the U.S./Canadian border really was, a 12-year standoff ensued. The English garrison was established on the northwestern side of the island; an American garrison was set up on the southern tip. In 1872, a German arbitrator, Kaiser Wilhelm, settled the debate by establishing the U.S./Canadian boundary and “gave” the San Juan Islands to the United States.

This would not be the final colorful story to be told. The islands were settled in an initial bawdy “wild west” fashion. Even into the 1930s, as some communities claimed to be "civilized," the islands had plenty of bootleggers who were utilizing the intricate waterways around the islands to trade their goods during Prohibition.


Seattle, Washington

For thousands of years, the coastal First Peoples lived in abundance along the shorelines that now surround Elliott Bay and the city of Seattle. The city is named for Chief Sealth. A respected local elder, Chief Sealth befriended the first non-native settlers, including the Denny party who arrived in 1851.

Logging of the great forests surrounding Elliott Bay commenced almost immediately upon arrival of the first white pioneers, who began to supply the building demands of the city of San Francisco and other developments along the west coast. This was Seattle’s first link to becoming a key import and export arena along the Pacific Rim. By the time gold was discovered in Alaska in the late 1800s, Seattle became the foremost launching pad and supply center for gold and adventure seekers bound for the “Last Frontier” of the Alaskan wilderness.

Today, Seattle’s multi-cultural population is approximately 652,000. Lumber and other exports are still important to the regional economy, as is the pioneering spirit that fostered the development and success of high-tech companies such as Microsoft and Boeing. Take a stroll along the Emerald City’s bustling waterfront and see a grand mixture of old wooden piers now housing restaurants, the Seattle Aquarium and the like with a view of the modern shipping docks in the background. Soak in the surrounding natural beauty of Mt. Rainier, rising to a height of 14,411 feet, and the Olympic Mountains to the west across Elliott Bay. Green and white Washington State Ferries constantly ply the southern Salish Sea (aka Puget Sound) to and from outlying water-bound areas.

The 1962 World’s Fair icon, the Space Needle, touches the skies at 600 feet. Have a meal in the Needle’s revolving restaurant and gain a spectacular 360-degree view in an hour. In its early days, the restaurant revolved faster—but that didn’t work so well for the diner’s digestion! Sip a latte in the heart of coffee culture at Pike Place Market and watch the "flying fish" while inhaling the colorful array of fresh-cut flowers, fruits, and vegetables and browsing local artisan stalls. Visit Seattle’s first neighborhood, Pioneer Square, with historical brick buildings brimming with art galleries, boutiques, and diverse restaurants.

Seattleites are distinguished as the number one readers in the U.S. Although some may attribute that statistic to Seattle’s rainy reputation, this city actually receives only about 35 inches of rain annually—less than all the major cities on the Eastern seaboard! That is because the Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula absorb much of the moisture from the Pacific before it reaches Seattle. The marine air does moderate the temperature in Seattle and is cause for days of overcast skies—thus its reputation for rain. Seattle enjoys about 16 hours of daylight in the summer and 16 hours of darkness in the winter.


Strait of Georgia, British Columbia

Widely known as a premier scuba diving and whale watching location, the 150-mile Strait of Georgia averages 410 feet deep with a maximum depth of 1,400 feet. On June 23, 1946, part of the strait became a little deeper. An earthquake on Vancouver Island caused the bottom of Deep Bay, just north of Nanaimo, to sink between 9 and 84 feet.

Stretching between Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the mainland of British Columbia, the ends of the strait are marked by archipelagos and narrow channels with widths varying from 11 ½ to 34 miles. The main channels of the strait are Haro Strait and Rosario Strait. In the north, Discovery Passage connects the Strait of Georgia with Johnstone Strait.

Native communities have surrounded this water for thousands of years and it wasn’t until 1791 when Captain Jose Maria Narvaez explored the strait for Spain. In 1792, Captain George Vancouver led an extensive expedition along the west coast of North America and named it the “Gulf of Georgia” in honor of King George III.


Victoria, British Columbia

Majestically perched on the southern tip of the Saanich Peninsula, the ornate architecture and manicured gardens of the provincial capital city are reminiscent of Victorian London. Established in 1843 as a Hudson’s Bay Company Post named for the motherland’s Queen, the city became a colonial capital and significant outpost of the British Empire in 1862.

The region’s Coast Salish were the first peoples to establish communities, possibly thousands of years before non-natives. The first Spanish explorers arrived in 1774, were followed by Captain James Cook in 1778, and Captain George Vancouver in 1792. Victoria played an important role as a supply center when the discovery of gold on the mainland was made in 1858. In the latter half of the 19th century the city was one of North America’s largest opium importers, serving the opium trade from Hong Kong which was legal and unregulated until 1865. The trade was finally banned in 1908. With the completion of the railroad in 1886, Victoria lost its position as a commercial center to Vancouver and began cultivating its image as a genteel city in a natural setting.

Due to its mild climate, many rare native plants here are found nowhere else in Canada, and today it has a reputation as the “City of Gardens.” Victoria’s current population is around 78,000 and in 2007 for the first time in its history, high technology overtook tourism as the top performing economic sector. There is much to do and it is very easy to walk from one site to another. Shopping adventures and culinary delights abound as you take a walk down Government Street, eventually ending in Victoria’s Chinatown.

The architectural jewels of the Parliament Building and Fairmont Empress Hotel crown the Inner Harbor. Architect Francis Rattenburg designed both of these highly photographed buildings. In the Empress Hotel, guests have enjoyed high tea in the Palm Room, with its stained-glass dome and tropical plants, since 1908. On the ground floor of the hotel is Miniature World, with tiny examples of odd items such as the world’s smallest operational sawmill and the world’s largest dollhouse. The whimsical Royal London Wax Museum offers about 250 examples of this very British art form and is housed in what was originally the ticket office of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The Royal British Columbia Museum depicts natural and human history and the Maritime Museum of British Columbia is one of the best of its kind.

Vessels for this Itinerary