The quiet is what strikes people here most on Haida Gwaii. On this 180-mile-long archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, labyrinthine coves snuggle up to dense forests with towering cedars. Beneath the ground, scientists have found evidence of human habitation stretching back 12,000 years.
“We brought students—minus laptops and cell phones—to the forest,” says Guujaaw, a Haida leader. “They could carry a pencil and tablet for sketching. A couple hours later, one student said the sound of the pencil scratching on the pad was too loud.”
Thirty years ago it wasn’t so quiet. In 1985 the Haida people, alarmed by the ecological damage caused by clearcutting, blockaded the logging road. This nonviolent protest led to Canada's creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. In the village of SGang Gwaay, Haida Watchmen share their culture with visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage destination.
“You use your listening sense more,” says Ernie Gladstone, a Haida who is superintendent of Gwaii Haanas. “You hear the water washing down the beaches, clams squirting, and ravens, eagles, and songbirds in the forest.” —April Orcutt
When to Go: Summer (May 1-September 15) is the best time to visit, since tourist services (tours, cultural events, restaurants, and lodging) are readily available. Winter (October-May) is surfing season.
Complete article at National Geographic Traveler