Inside Passage & Great Bear Rainforest


Trip Highlights


Sail with us to where civilization gradually fades astern. Northwest is where we're headed, underneath a golden sky as we begin to get a taste of the wilder side of the North American coast. Natural Hot Springs, 10,000 yr old abandoned First Nation villages, ancient totem poles, pods of leaping dolphins, Orcas, Humpbacks, Bears, Rain Wolves. These are just some of the highlights on our farthest north tour. This is a true adventure, but with all the creature comforts and safety we've developed from over 20 years of experience with this route.

We pass north through the Inside Passage roughly retracing the route that Captain George Vancouver did in 1792. Much of the area looks the same now as it did then. With each day aboard, you'll feel a deeper connection to the natural world as you let the stresses of everyday land based life melt away.

Sailing aboard the S/V Nawalak is about escaping the crowds, relaxing, and connecting with nature and the sea while exploring the quiet beaches and pristine islands of the northwest. During our tours we share with you the gems and secrets we’ve discovered in our 30+ years of sailing these amazing waterways.

Gourmet Chef on board!
Gourmet Chef on board!

Our chef specializes in bringing your culinary whims to fruition with rich, distinctive cuisine and the freshest local ingredients.

Deluxe accomodations
Deluxe accomodations

Our staterooms are heated and comfortable with fresh linens, towels and toiletries provided.

Boarding from Orcas Island
Boarding from Orcas Island

Our home port is Deer Harbor Marina on beautiful Orcas Island. Private trips can start and end anywhere in the San Juan Islands or Puget Sound!

No Sailing Experience Necessary
No Sailing Experience Necessary

Our USCG licensed, lifelong sailor captain and crew will handle all the sail hoisting and navigating, but if you want to join in, or want to learn how to harness the wind, we love teaching.


Each trip is a unique experience. We design each trip with you in mind after extensive discussion about what you are most excited to see and do.


Tour info

12 days
Group Size
2 to 6
Price starts at
5300 USD
Meeting Point

5164 Deer Harbor Rd Deer Harbor WA

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Why take this tour?

Desolation Sound, The Inside Passage, The Great Bear Rainforest - a primeval wilderness whose magical voice speaks diretly to your soul.

Endowed with a vast, intricate web of islands, bays, and waterways, one could spend a lifetime exploring here. Entering into the temperate rainforest realm of moss draped ancient cedars, whales, salmon-filled rivers, towering granite cliffs, grizzly, black and spirit bears abound. Waterfalls cascade from impossible heights, fjords stretch deep into the coastal mountains bordered by massive granite cliffs, this is the last of a quickly disappearing global treasure. These tours focus on the portion from the San Juans through the Gulf Islands, and into the Great Bear Rainforest, or the reverse.


Feel yourself easing into a simpler, richer life, as you sail deep into the homeland of a culture that lived in balance with nature for thousands of years. The vibrant, healing beauty of this little-known treasure speaks directly to your soul. We bring you to the beautiful, less-traveled areas of the Great Bear Rainforest-Inside Passage-away from the crowds, and the other charter companies!


As we head north from the San Juans we begin to enter the enchanted land of the Gulf Islands, with elegantly sculpted sandstone shorelines and white shell beaches. Heading further north we soon behold the majesty of Desolation Sound – thought by many to be the premier yachting destination in the Northwest for its scenic fjords, mountains, warm water, and serene lakes. From there we enter the intricate Broughton Archipeligo-visiting ancient abandoned First Nations villiage sites with totem poles lying on the forest floor, and thousands of years of layered shell midden clearly visible. Then we truly enter the ancient, primal wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest-the last large stand of coastal temperate rainforest left on the planet. With towering granite peaks, spectacular fiords, lush, untouched cedar forests, and myriads of wildlife, this is a rare nature experience that will indelibly transform you!


  • Gourmet meals prepared daily by our on-board chef

  • Kayaks, SUPs, Electric inflatable dinghy

  • Experienced naturalist USCG captain

  • Convenient pick up and drop off locations any where in the San Juan Islands


  • Gratuities not included in cost of tour, but are welcome!

Frequently asked questions

The coastlines we sail are rich with life. Depending on the time of year, sea mammals you might see include Orca, Humpback and Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoise, Dahl’s Porpoise, White-sided Dolphins, Sea Otters, River Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions. On land you have the opportunity to see Minks, Otters, Black-tailed Deer, Raccoons, and imported exotic wildlife. As we journey northward it becomes increasingly likely to find coastal Wolves, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Grizzlies, and the White Kermode, or “Spirit” Bear. There are too many feathered friends to list. The Bald Eagle is a daily visitor. Other favorites of ours include Oyster Catchers, Marbled Murrelettes, Scoters, and Great Blue Herons. For a truly world class natural experience the old-growth forests of northern B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest house an especially rich and diverse community of creatures. Our unobtrusive electric powered dingy allows us the unique advantage of near silence while viewing and photographing wildlife.
It’s best to be prepared for a temperature range of 55° to 80° F. When sailing, even on a warm summer day, the breeze experienced on deck when heading up wind can elicit the need for cozier clothing. The best dress for sailing is layers. For northern tours, close to the skin, wear a moisture wicking layer, then an insulative layer (fleece, wool...), and an outer wind/water resistant layer. Waterproof shoes or rubber boots are an advantage on deck and for getting to and exploring shorelines and estuaries. Shorts and a bathing suit are great for a summer swim or hot spring soak. For life below decks bring casual and comfortable clothing. Don’t forget your favorite pair of slippers! We’ll send you a detailed list of what to bring when you submit your reservation.
The San Juan and Gulf Islands are known for their sunny summer days. We receive about half the rain of Seattle due to the rainshadow of the Olympics and Vancouver Island mountain ranges. Temperatures range from 55°-80° F in the spring, summer, and fall, and average 40°-50° F in the winter months. The Great Bear Rainforest of northern B.C. produces more variable weather. It’s not called a rain forest for nothing! Temperatures are usually in the 60s throughout our sailing season there. You will likely encounter a mix of sunshine with occasional rain during your trip, but you will stay warm and dry in our roomy pilothouse.
It depends on what you are looking for. April and May display an incredible abundance of spring flowers. Some areas are particularly spectacular with color at this time. The sunniest and warmest months of the year are July, August, and September. This is the best time of year to see the Great Bear Rainforest. October through mid-June offers the best sailing wind and the quietest privacy in anchorages. We have had incredible trips in January! With our heating systems and all-weather pilothouse this time of year can be a magically peaceful and comfortable experience.
Nearly all of the waters we sail in are well protected. Most people who are concerned about seasickness are pleasantly surprised that its not an issue for them on our trips. However, some of our trips involve making brief passages that can occasionally get rough enough to elicit this unfortunate gastronomic state. We recommend you speak with your doctor or pharmacist regarding appropriate motion sickness medication. In our experience for mild queasiness, the acupressure wrist bands, ginger tea or crystallized ginger (which we have on board), and staying above decks can be of great help. The good news is that after we’ve finished a rough passage, the seasickness disappears!
Absolutely! We love having children on board. It can be a hugely educational experience for them. There are many activities to keep them occupied, and enough new and exciting experiences to keep them talking about their trip for a long time. We do, however, prefer that if your child is younger than 10 that the guest list is filled by your party alone.
It’s a cruise that includes a captain and crew/chef who take care of all shipboard duties including safe navigation, local knowledge of choice attractions, and meals and cleaning. You can do as much or as little as you like. We are at your service!
No. The level of activity varies depending on the trip. However, anyone who can get in and out of the dingy and go for short walks will do fine. We have had mobility-impaired guests having wonderful cruises with us without ever leaving the boat! There are many beautiful things to see right from the cabin and deck!
All onboard meals, including select wines with most dinners. On some trips you will cover one dinner ashore. Your heated cabin includes a bed made with sheets, pillows, comforters, and blankets. Towels, cloths, shampoo, and soap are also complementary. You are welcome to use the inflatable, kayak, and all fishing, crabbing, and shrimping gear. If you prefer to overnight at a place with moorage fees, you are responsible for them, as well as any fishing licenses, and most off boat tours.
On multi-day trips we try to have at least one shoreside exploration per day. In the Great Bear Rainforest we typically take the dinghy up a pristine river and go for a short walk, or explore a remote beach, or abandoned native village. In the San Juans and Gulf Islands many forest trails, beaches, and country roads await the happy wanderer.
Opportunities for education abound. Your skipper is a trained naturalist, and enjoys pointing out a special plant, and its traditional uses, or identifying an animal and explaining its habits. Local history and native culture are other subjects you'll learn about. The captain also enjoys teaching sailing to anyone interested. Our trips in the Great Bear and the Inside Passage incorporate Native guides who will lead you through abandoned village sites, and enthrall with tales of battles, ancient customs, and the history of the once mighty Kwakwak’wakw. Or take part in a traditional open fire salmon bake and learn of the rich past of the Heiltsuk. The boat makes a great platform for seminars and workshops. We also offer instructor-led cruises in subjects such as meditation, photography, and whale observation. Please see charter options. If you are an instructor interested in leading an art cruise feel free to contact us.
Our scheduled tours focus in the San Juans April through July, with one trip up the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in early August, mid August to mid September in the Northern Great Bear Rainforest of the northern B.C. coast, and one trip down the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in mid September. Please see our schedule. Any time you don’t see a scheduled trip booked the boat is open and available, so don’t hesitate to inquire.
All of our rooms are double occupancy (View ship schematic), and allow for a maximum of six guests. If you prefer a private stateroom we will try to accommodate you. There will be an additional 50% fee if the tour is otherwise full.
By Coast Guard regulation, we can take up to six guests. On our instructional cruises, and with workshops and seminars, we can bring an instructor in addition to the six guests.
No. The captain and crew are perfectly capable of taking care of all sailing. However, you are welcome to participate at any time for your own enjoyment. The captain is a lifetime sailor, and would love to help you with your sailing skills. By the end of the trip you may just be ready for the America’s Cup!

Things to know

Our Vessel

Nawalak (Kwakwaka'wakw word meaning spirit of nature) is a 55' Pilothouse Ketch Sailboat. Our heated and dry pilothouse means if we encounter a rain shower (it is the PNW!) guests and the captain can sit cozily warm and dry while having panoramic views. The interior is created almost entirely of ...

Nawalak (Kwakwaka'wakw word meaning spirit of nature) is a 55' Pilothouse Ketch Sailboat. Our heated and dry pilothouse means if we encounter a rain shower (it is the PNW!) guests and the captain can sit cozily warm and dry while having panoramic views. The interior is created almost entirely of teak and mahogany having five private staterooms, plus two heads with enclosed, private showers. There is also a well equipped, commercial quality galley and on deck bbq grill allowing our chef to create sumptuous meals each day.

What should I bring?

Included in your tour is all food and non-alcoholic beverages. A bottle of wine is served with each dinner, and if you would like to bring your own wine, beer or spirits, feel free to do so. A warm cozy stateroom with fresh linens and blankets awaits you after a day sailing and exploring. All tow...

Included in your tour is all food and non-alcoholic beverages. A bottle of wine is served with each dinner, and if you would like to bring your own wine, beer or spirits, feel free to do so. A warm cozy stateroom with fresh linens and blankets awaits you after a day sailing and exploring. All towels and toiletries are provided also.
Feel free to bring any books, cameras, sketchbooks, journals etc.

Cancellation Policy

The 30% deposit is fully refundable minus a $200 admin fee if cancellation occurs 90 days or more before scheduled departure. Cancellation after 90 days prior to departure may result in forfeiture of the charter fee. A refund of your total charter fee will be made if your reservation(s) are fille...

The 30% deposit is fully refundable minus a $200 admin fee if cancellation occurs 90 days or more before scheduled departure. Cancellation after 90 days prior to departure may result in forfeiture of the charter fee. A refund of your total charter fee will be made if your reservation(s) are filled by another party, minus a $200 admin fee and any fee decreases incurred by EISC.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at any time – we very much look forward to sailing with you!

Customer Reviews

tripadvisor reviews

Six days aboard the vessel Na'walak with naturalist Captain Dave and joyful Chef Faith was an absolute delight. Whether sailing, motoring, hiking, kayaking or enjoying fine dining in the cozy pilot house, we were Five Happy Campers.If you're looking to be well looked after while on a sailing trip, climb aboard and head out of the harbor with Emerald Isle Sailing Charters--the Salish Sea's most interesting, informative and just plain fun adventure...

tripadvisor reviews

Sailing the San Juan’s was a bucket item list for us—the natural beauty of the islands attracted our nature-lover inner senses. What we did not anticipate was the amazing knowledge of the area from Captain Dave. Listening to him share the history of the islands and his pointing out those areas on our hikes/sails, was something way beyond our expectations. And the food? Wow! Chef Faith blew us away with her presentation and the taste of the food—all healthy!! The six days flew by but we are forever changed by the bonding of this group of five people who shared this time together—our memories will last a lifetime.

tripadvisor reviews

I just returned from an exceptional 6-day San Juans excursion with Captain Dave. I signed up for the sailing, hiking, kayaking, and great scenery…and the trip certainly delivered in those areas. But the real magic of this vacation is in Dave’s expansive knowledge (seamanship, the natural world, local history), the wonderful cuisine that our chef Faith thoughtfully prepared, the easygoing and serene coves we stayed in each night, and the great conversations with new friends. You can lose yourself in the scenery, solitude, and sailing…and emerge recharged from a truly unique experience!

tripadvisor reviews

Truly an amazing experience and highly recommended. Captain Dave was exceptional! His knowledge of the area, history and wildlife were always insightful and not too intrusive to a relaxing day on the water. The boat is in amazing shape and very comfortable. We did 6 hours with 8 people including Dave and his helper. Plenty of space to move around, chill out and enjoy the stellar views. I would use this place again in a heartbeat!

tripadvisor reviews

Exceptional experience!!!! Capitán Dave really goes out of his way to make you feel at home and provide a memorable experience. His knowledge, caring, and expertise are awesome. He talked about the different islands, provided specific information about them, explained some of the history and made the tour extremely interesting and enjoyable. We had a wonderful time, relaxed, have fun, laughed, and throughly enjoyed. Along the way we saw Porpoises, a Gigantic jellyfish (Fried Egg Jellyfish), Bold eagles, Seals, Sea lions, Harbor Seals, Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemot, and ORCAS!!!! Yes, Orcas, 4 of them!!! So close, that we felt as we were swimming with them. Dave knew that 2 of them were males and 2 females. It was absolutely wonderful and Awesome. Will definitely do it again, probably even a 6 day family trip 😋🤩👍🏼 Very appreciative of the time we spent together!!!!

tripadvisor reviews

My wife and I just got back from an incredible trip in the San Juan Islands with Captain Dave Lutz and Chef Kenzie aboard the boat Nawalak. Dave is a kind, gentle soul and a most capable captain. His knowledge of the San Juan Islands is remarkable. He's been sailing that area and beyond for many years and was a joy to talk to about the islands' history, vegetation, birds, and marine life. We ran into a pretty significant storm on one of our days but kept completely safe and dry inside his 54' monster sailboat. What a blast that day was!! It really was a fantastic charter, and we can't wait to sail with him again. Kenzie was Dave's chef for our trip and she spent the entire trip making beautiful and tasty meals every day...all from scratch. Can't say enough about her chef skills. Like I said, we can't wait to go back and sail with them again.

tripadvisor reviews

Captain Dave, Chef Jada and the beautiful vessel Nawalak provided an unforgettable Cruising Season opener in the San Juans for my buddy and me. It was a pleasure to surf the waves towards Stuart Island then reach effortless towards Patos in 15-20kn and sunshine. We enjoyed delicious cuisine, beautiful coves and learned so much about this amazing world we call the Salish Sea. We will be back this summer!Boris and Kevin

tripadvisor reviews

Yes, yes. Yes. We would reccommend this trip. My husband and I spent our 35 anniversary with Captain Dave and Kady as his crew mate. This was a perfect experience and we've already booked a return sailing trip for next year. Dave is extremely knowledgable and provided excellent information as we sailed. He also has eagle eyes and spotted all types of wildlife. He is easy to be with and the trip was a delight. The fact that the boat is a pilot house is a huge bonus because if you get chilly or if iit rains. you can go in side and still have an amazing view from ALL the windows. There are 2 bathrooms. Everything was pleasantly decorated and very, very clean Lots of bedrooms so if you need to rest you have plenty of choics. They graciously served cheese, crackers and fruit. Thank you Dave and Kady for being so wonderful to sail with, we'll see you next April 26th!

tripadvisor reviews

My wife and I had a great trip with Dave, Christina (Chef) and the other guests. Big boat with roomy accomadations, great scenery, delicatble food, and very enjoyable comapny. Secluded coves, fascinating hiking and breathtaking views are standard. A trip with Dave is very highly reccomended.

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