10 Awesome Things To Do In Prince Rupert
Updated on February 1st, 2020
A month ago I had never heard of Prince Rupert. This small port town of 13,000 people just seemed to pop on my radar when one of my Workaway programs didn’t work out. With my Workaway not turning out as expected, I decided to move on and ended up on the Canadian coast. Luckily, this took me here, where there are so many incredible things to do in Prince Rupert.
I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in Prince Rupert on a work exchange program. I volunteered at the Cow Bay Pioneer Guesthouse in exchange for free accommodation. During this time, I met some super friendly locals, more than happy to show me around and did as many hikes as I could fit in around work.
If you enjoy the outdoors, wildlife and nature, you too will be as taken as I was with Prince Rupert. While you will probably be spending less time than I did here, I have listed the top things and activities to do in Prince Rupert below.
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How to get to Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert is tas far north as you can go in northern British Columbia. This portside town is located within the inside passage and is the beginning of the western end of Highway 16.
During my time volunteering at the hotel, I realised most visitors are passing through, staying just one night. Travellers are en route to starting or ending a Canadian road trip along Highway 16. Others are there to take the ferry from Prince Rupert to Vancouver or heading north to Alaska. Unfortunately for these tourists, they miss out on all of the wonders of Prince Rupert.
There is an airport located on the neighbouring Digby Island with flights daily from Vancouver. This is definitely the quickest way, but also the least exciting. Air Canada flights start at $250 CAD for a one-way ticket. If you have more time, I would recommend taking the train or ferry to Prince Rupert.
This beautiful part of the world deserves your time. BC Ferries will take you from Port Hardy (northern Vancouver Island) to Prince Rupert through the inside passage. Unfortunately, there is no direct route from Vancouver anymore. The journey from Port Hardy takes around 15 hours depending on the weather. This ferry service runs year-round but day trips are from May-September.
Expect to see incredible mountain meets ocean scenery and hopefully catch a glimpse of the sea lions and whales during season. The trip costs $175 CAD for a foot passenger during peak season (May-Sep). Check current fares.
VIA Rail is another scenic way to arrive in Prince Rupert if you are coming from somewhere inland and the way I arrived. I had previously been in Prince George, Smithers and made the highly recommended detour to Hyder, Alaska. Which is a wonderful place to see bears in the wild without an expensive tour.
If you are feeling adventurous you can take the northern route all the way from Jasper, Alberta with an overnight stop in Prince George. Tickets for this trip cost $142.
A Canadian road trip is high on my bucket list. There are so many incredible places to stop in British Columbia alone. To get to Prince Rupert, follow Highway 16 all the way west until you reach the ocean.
Hiking in Prince Rupert
One of my favourite things to do anywhere in the world is to go hiking. Prince Rupert and the surrounding area is full of incredible hiking trails. One of the best things for you to do in Prince Rupert is to explore some of these trails.
You’ll find trails of all lengths and a lot are accessible even if you don’t have a car. I was averaging a trail every second day here and did my favourite hike to date. The most amazing part was you can walk a couple of hours from the downtown area and feel like you were in the middle of the wilderness. I read a perfect quote in ‘The Outsiders Guide to Prince Rupert’ by Matt J Simmons, talking about the Kiwanis Trail,
“Its starting to feel more like a mountaineering expedition than a day hike!” I laugh and then do a double take. How can it be possible to feel that way here, so close to town?
Some must-do hiking trails when you visit are Kiwanis, Butze Rapids, Mount Blaine and Rushbrook.
Due to the high annual rainfall, these trails are wet. I learnt this the hard way and came back not only with black shoes but completely saturated and covered in mud. So make sure you pack a good waterproof jacket and be prepared for wet feet.
Visit the Prince Rupert Museums
If you’re a museum nut then Prince Rupert has you covered. For a small town, you can visit three great museums, two in walking distance of town.
The Museum of Northern BC
Before you even enter this building you will be awed by the giant cedar longhouse which houses the museum. Located in the heart of downtown it is easily accessible.
Learn about the Northwest Coast First Nations people’s history and culture from ancient times to the present. Friendly staff are on hand and full of knowledge for any questions you have.
Kwinitsa Railway Museum
Down by the waterfront, you’ll have an enjoyable walk to reach this museum from The Museum of Northern BC. It’s only small but shows intriguing views into the life of a station master and his role in the early railroad history. Open only during summer months.
North Pacific Cannery
Combine a trip to Port Edward (below) with a visit to the Cannery. The cannery was built in the 1800s and has become one of BC’s longest-running canneries. The best way to experience all the cannery has to offer is to join one of the 3 daily guided tours. These tours last 60 minutes and will take you through 2 semi-restricted areas.
Coffee at Cowpuccinos
If you know me, I’m a die-hard coffee lover and love to find the best coffee wherever I travel. A visit to Prince Rupert would not be complete without starting at least one day (or all) at Cowpuccino’s cafe. They have delicious coffee and treats you cannot say no to, even when it’s only 8 am.
Staff in this cafe were so friendly! They are more than happy to chat and were the reason I found out about so many of the great hikes in the area.
Indoor Rock Climbing
I love a good climbing wall and incorporating them into adventure holidays. Prince Rupert has a really fun one that is not to be missed. It’s only small but provides a great strength workout after you’ve eaten too many of Cowpuccino’s famous sex (in a pan) desserts.
Routes suitable for all levels, The Devil’s Crag Climbing Wall is located by the civic centre and provides for a great evening of fun. Also, a great place to meet other people.
One of my highlights while in Prince Rupert was going on a sunset kayak. Three of us from the hotel made the booking together and it was just us on the tour. We organised the trip with Skeena kayaking and were picked up from the hotel and driven to a protected bay in the ocean.
We were given the choice of how long we wanted to stay out and paddled around watching the many seals and the incredible colours as the sun went down. It was serene and peaceful with the water turning to glass in front of our eyes.
Visit the Wheelhouse Brewery
Do you love beer? I make it one of my priorities to see all the craft breweries of the towns I visit. The Wheelhouse Brewery is very much a microbrewery as it is on a much smaller scale to other craft breweries I have visited.
If you’re free on Tuesday or Thursday they have opportunities to volunteer with them. Do some work and in exchange, get paid in beer and knowledge of what happens during the brewing process.
The tasting room is open Friday and Saturday although their beers are sold mostly everywhere in town. They also serve wine and kombucha for the non-beer drinkers out there.
Day Trips in Prince Rupert
Visit Port Edward
The North Pacific Cannery is located in the small town of Port Edward. Enjoy a half-day trip visiting this community and the cannery combined. A great idea is to take a picnic lunch and make the most of the lush Skeena River parklands.
You can take a 25-minute bus ride from the downtown bus stop (see schedule). Tickets cost $4.00.
I am always on the lookout for bears and although I saw so many black bears on my recent trip to Hyder, I missed out on seeing a grizzly. Unfortunately for me as a budget traveller, this tour was a bit out of my price range at $291 CAD. So you’ll have to tell me how it goes. There are 50 grizzly bears living in the 44,300-hectare Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary which can only be accessed with an authorised tour. Khutzeymateen means ‘valley of the grizzly’ and is home to the highest population of Grizzly’s in North America.
You can book a grizzly bear tour with Peek or Adventure Tours during the summer months to visit the Khutzeymateen Wilderness. You’ll travel by boat up the sound among picturesque coastline and mountains to where you enter the valley.
The inside passage between Vancouver Island and Alaska is home to thousands of whales. All you need to do when on a ferry is look out the window long enough and you’ll see one. Unfortunately, this is usually from a distance.
To get up as close as possible, make sure you jump on a whale watching tour during August and September to see these incredible giants of the sea. There are mostly humpback whales but sometimes you’re lucky enough to see an Orca. During my time in Juneau and Prince Rupert, I was able to see countless whales while on a tour.
Catch a Halibut
Around this part of the world, everyone is raving about Halibut. Most of the Prince Rupert fishing charters have a ‘No fish, no pay’ policy.
Although Halibut is the prize-winning fish, you can also catch Salmon, Ling Cod, Red Snapper and Rock Fish in these waters. I still claim Halibut to be the weirdest looking fish, it reminds me of that episode on The Simpsons. Do you know the one?
Don’t miss out on the most delicious ice-cream at Henry’s Midway. Located on Hays Cove Road, the lady is super friendly and gives the most generous sized servings, you won’t regret it.
Have you been to Prince Rupert? What did you like about did? Did you get up to anything I missed on here?