Tiny TELEGRAPH COVE is a likeable place 8km south of Port McNeill, and which is reached by a paved side road. One of BC’s “boardwalk villages”, the whole community – formerly a lone telegraph office, then a 1920s sawmill village – is raised on wooden stilts over the water. In summer, its historic character is somewhat diluted by a heavy tourist influx.
The enclave is one of the island’s premier whale-watching spots, the main attraction being the pods of killer whales that calve locally. Some nineteen of these families live or visit Robson Bight, 20km down the Johnstone Strait, which was established as an ecological reserve in 1982 (the whales like the gravel beaches, where they come to rub). This is the world’s most accessible and reliable spot to see the creatures – with around a ninety percent chance in season (mid-June to Oct).