Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island
Telegraph Cove is a picturesque fishing village located on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It’s home to one of the last boardwalk settlements left on Vancouver Island and is the gateway to one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.
It’s named after a one-man coastal telegraph station, built over a century ago in 1912. It later became a fishing village and cannery. Nowadays, it’s a launch point for eco-tourism and outdoor adventures, including whale watching and grizzly bear tours, fishing excursions and sea kayaking expeditions.
There are no guarantees when it comes to nature, but the Johnstone Strait is widely known as one of the best places in the world to see orcas in the wild.
Watch this short video from our visit to Telegraph Cove.
Below are a few photos of Telegraph Cove Marina.
It’s easy to see why this old fishing village has become a top Vancouver Island tourist attraction.
Telegraph Cove Whale Watching
One of the most popular things to do in Telegraph Cove is whale watching. Orcas from the Northern Resident population return to this part of Vancouver Island each summer. Because of this, your odds of seeing orcas here is quite high.
You also have a good chance at seeing minke, humpback and grey whales, Pacific white sided dolphins, harbour porpoises, Dall’s porpoises (they look like small orcas), harbour seals, Steller sea lions (the world’s biggest sea lion species), and bald eagles. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a black bear or sea otter.
Whale watching tours with Prince of Whales depart from the dock in front of the iconic red building. These whale-watching tours explore the Johnstone Strait and Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park.
There are two boats for whale watching tours. See photo below.
The smaller boat on the left is a 12-passenger open-air Zodiac boat. You skip across the water at top speeds, so it’s more adventurous. Guests are provided a Mustang Survival Suit for safety and protection from the elements. Learn about zodiac whale watching tours here.
The larger vessel is a 74 person semi-covered, custom-built express cruiser. It has a washroom onboard and multiple viewing platforms (open air and covered). This boat offers a more luxurious whale watching and marine wildlife viewing experience.
Book a Half-Day Whale Watching Adventure with Prince of Whales here.
In our opinion, the 74 passenger vessel is the way to go, especially if you’re traveling with kids. It’s nice to be able to walk around and get a different perspective from the upper deck. And the bathrooms are essential for a 3+ hour tour.
Learn about Whale Watching Tours and Pricing here.
Telegraph Cove Whale Museum
The Whale Interpretive Centre is worth a visit. It’s located in the same red wooden building as the Prince of Whales Adventure Center.
The whale museum is not very big. You only need about 20-30 minutes to see the exhibits. The whale skeletons hanging from the ceiling are impressive.
It’s also an inexpensive activity. Admission for Adults is $5.00. Children admission is $3.00.
More info about Telegraph Cove Whale Interpretive Centre here.
The centerpiece of the Whale Museum is a 20 meter long fin whale skeleton (picture above).
Telegraph Cove Kayaking
There’s lots of adventurous things to do in Telegraph Cove, including world class sea kayaking. It’s quite common for paddlers to kayak with whales here. The Johnstone Strait is said have the largest resident pod of killer whales in the world, topping 200+ orcas in the summer [source]. I like those odds.
Telegraph Cove kayak tours explore the islands and inlets in and around Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park, British Columbia’s largest marine park.
North Island Kayak is the largest kayak tour operator in Telegraph Cove. It’s been offering guided sea kayaking trips since 1991. Tours can be as short as 2 hours. Multi-day kayaking excursions are also available.
Nearby Robson Bight Ecological Reserve (approx 20 km east of Telegraph Cove) is a protected area. Paddlers and boats are not allowed to enter. However, you can paddle past this area from a distance, which increases your chance of seeing whales and marine wildlife.
Telegraph Cove Fishing
The waters surrounding Telegraph Cove offer some of the best fishing on the West Coast of British Columbia. Guests can charter fishing boats or launch their own boat at the Telegraph Cove Marina.
The islands of Broughton Archipelago provide natural protection from waves and swells, making this an ideal fishing location. Five species of salmon inhabit the area, including Chinook, Pink Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Coho or Silver Salmon, and Chum. Bottom fishing include halibut, lingcod and rock fish.
The above photo is freshly caught halibut delivered to The Old Saltery Pub.
Telegraph Cove Restaurants and Cafes
The main Telegraph Cove restaurant is The Old Saltery Pub. It has a nice patio section that overlooks the marina. It serves West Coast Cuisine featuring burgers, steak and local seafood, including garlic prawns, bacon wrapped scallops, fish and chips, and Cove Seafood Chowder. See the menu here.
The Killer Whale Cafe is located in the same building as the pub. It serves a similar menu.
The green building is the Cove Coffee Company. It serves fresh coffee, baked goods and ice cream. Grab a drink and pastry and sit on the pier. It also sells souvenirs and local gifts.
There’s a coffee shop, Sally’s Food Bar, located beside the resort office
The General Store at Telegraph Cove carries locally crafted gifts, souvenirs, books, clothing, fishing tackle and bait, and liquor, spirits and wine.
We enjoyed fresh coffee on the boardwalk on a cool summer morning.
Where to Stay at Telegraph Cove
Telegraph Cove Resort is basically spread throughout the seaside village. Many of the unique homes on the boardwalk have kept their original charm. They were once home to families and workers in the village. Check availability here.
The Outlook at Telegraph Cove is a two floor motel located directly in the marina (picture above). Many of the rooms have waterfront views.
Telegraph Cove camping is popular with quests on a Vancouver Island road trip. Read about our RV camping road trip on northern Vancouver Island.
The Telegraph Cove Marina and RV Park is located within steps of the village. Additionally, the Forest RV Campground is located about one km from the village. You can rent small rustic cabins if you don’t have an RV or you don’t want to sleep in a tent. More info and pricing here.
You can also stay at nearby Alder Bay RV Park and Marina. It’s about a 20 minute drive to from this campground to the village.
Above is the reservation office at The Outlook motel.
The historic cabins and houses are available for nightly rentals.
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Vintage pick-up truck on the boardwalk. Vintage might be a stretch. Old, rusty and dilapidated might be more appropriate. You can actually find this truck on google maps, search for “Retired Dodge Truck”.
The village has heritage signs to educate visitors. Here’s The Johnstone Strait sign.
This sign sums up everything you need to know about Telegraph Cove Resort.
How to get to Telegraph Cove
It’s actually very easy to get to Telegraph Cove by car. It’s located near Port McNeill, which is about a 3.5 hour drive north of Campbell River. Port Hardy is about 45 minutes north of Telegraph Cove. The drive from Victoria to Telegraph Cove is about 6 hours.
There’s only one highway, BC 19, in northern Vancouver Island. Follow the highway (and road signs) to Beaver Cove Road, which eventually turns into Telegraph Cove Road.
To get from the Mainland (Vancouver) to Vancouver Island, you will take BC Ferries from either Horseshoe Bay (North Vancouver to Nanaimo) or Tsawwassen (Vancouver to Victoria). Check the BC Ferries website for departure times and routes.
You can also fly to Victoria, Nanaimo or Port Hardy and rent a vehicle. Pacific Coastal Airlines offer daily flights from Vancouver, and other British Columbia destinations, to Port Hardy Airport.
Of course, if you have a boat, you can also moor your boat at the marina.
Read more blog posts from Vancouver Island, BC
- Best Road Trip from Vancouver for first time visitors
- The best things to do in Victoria, British Columbia
- What we learned on our first RV camping trip on Vancouver Island
- The Best Surfing Beaches near Tofino, British Columbia
- Moutcha Bay Resort in Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island
Have you visited Telegraph Cove?
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