Many activities such as whale watching, bear watching, fishing, ferries, buses and tours should always be booked prior to your arrival. If you come to Port Hardy and expect to just “wing it” you may leave disappointed. Plan, research and prepare. Check our Transportation and getting around section for information about road access. Port Hardy is a very small town with just over 4,000 residents. Port McNeill has just over 2,500 residents. Common issues that may arise might be best dealt with in Campbell River or before you travel. Please feel free to contact Guest Services for specific questions.
The weather can change very quickly in this region so it is highly suggested that visitors check with local forecasts and pack proper outerwear. Cotton retains moisture (such as water or sweat) and can actually keep you cold during chilly trips. Synthetic materials that wick moisture away from your body will keep you significantly warmer. On a hot, warm day cotton is perfectly fine. Always dress for the activities that you will be participating in.
While venturing around town, some establishments will allow your pet inside while at others it will be prohibited. There are plenty of other outdoor trails and beaches to discover where your pooch is welcome. Please note San Josef Bay is the only trail within Cape Scott Provincial Park that approves dogs. Dogs in other areas of the park are strictly prohibited. Port Hardy has the excellent North Island Veterinary Hospital that is open seven days a week. Please note there is off-hours emergency services that can be contacted by calling the NIVH at (250) 949-6732.
Tipping at restaurants and bars in Canada is typically 15% minimum of your total. If you are out on a tour or have a guide, tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. While purchasing goods and groceries in our local shops travelers are not required to tip.
Port Hardy has a Scotiabank, CIBC and Coastal Community ATM. If you have specific banking needs with a bank that is not in Port Hardy or Port McNeill, it is advised you take care of your affairs at home or down island before you travel North.
Everything you purchase in Canada is in Canadian Dollars (CAD). If you need to exchange currency here in Port Hardy, you can go to the banks located here in town. For foreign currency it is best to have the exchanges made prior to travelling to the North Island.
Canada has a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) for all purchases and British Columbia has a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST). Everything you buy in British Columbia will always have a total 12% in taxes (GST + PST). Our region also has an additional 2% tax for accommodations.
It is very important to remember that many of the trails, lakes and coastal areas do not have cell reception. Port Hardy has an emergency centre, hospital and pharmacy incase anything happens to you or a loved on. For serious medical emergencies or trauma, you will likely be transferred to Campbell River, Victoria or Vancouver by either air or ambulance. For non-BC residents, the cost for patient consultations, treatment, aftercare and transfers down Island or to Vancouver will be at your expense. It is always advisable to purchase travel insurance before touring remote regions. Port Hardy and the tri-port area has EMS services, volunteer Fire Departments and is under the jurisdiction of the Canadian RCMP. For dental emergencies there are clinics available in Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Alert Bay.
It is illegal in British Columbia for minors under the age of 19 to smoke or consume alcohol. These laws apply across all the land and on BC Canadian waters. Travelers must drink and smoke in designated areas only and adhere to Federal and Provincial laws.