Getting to Sointula can be half the adventure! Our location on remote Malcolm Island, off the coast of Vancouver Island, means that guests will likely need to take a couple of forms of transportation to arrive. Traveling to Sointula can be almost as fun as the activities you’ll enjoy in the island!

Some guests opt to drive to Vancouver Island, taking a BC Ferry to Vancouver Island, then driving to Port McNeil. From there, it’s just a 15-minute boat ride to the island. But if you prefer to fly, or want to add a little extra adventure to your trip, you can also fly to Seattle or Vancouver, then catch a float plane ride directly to the island. This option is a great chance to see the wild landscapes of remote British Columbia from above ahead of your trip. It’s also the fastest and most direct option for getting to Malcolm Island, which means you can start your trip even sooner.

But while traveling by seaplane can be a fun addition to your visit to Sointula, it does take a bit of extra planning, especially if this will be your first float plane trip. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding How to Pack for Traveling to Sointula By Floatplane

Just like remembering your passport and getting a British Columbia fishing license if you plan to visit a BC fishing lodge during your visit, traveling by floatplane to Sointula requires a bit of pre-planning.

Because of the small size of the aircraft, float planes often require passengers to pack lighter bags than you might for a larger commercial flight. If you’re used to traveling on commercial planes, these packing restrictions may come as a surprise.

For instance, Northwest Seaplane flights, one of the charter services that provide floatplane rides to and from Sointula, allows each passenger to carry just two soft-sided pieces of luggage, weighing less than 25 pounds total. This means that hard-sided suitcases and carry-ons may not be permitted. 

If you do choose to carry additional luggage or if your luggage is overweight, you may be required to check your bag for an additional charge. This charge is calculated at $2 per pound. Additional checked luggage is only allowed based on available space.

To avoid additional charges and checked baggage restrictions, it’s best to pack light if you plan to travel to Sointula by floatplane. Need some help keeping your bag light, without forgetting something you’ll need during your trip? Check out these tips.

Plan to Dress in Layers

Temperatures can vary widely throughout the day in Sointula, even during the summer months. It may be chilly in the morning, but sunny and warm in the afternoon. Then, as the sun begins to set, temperatures may drop again. If you plan to visit a BC fishing lodge during your trip and spend some time on the water, rain and wind may also make a warmer afternoon feel cooler.

To combat these changing temperatures, and to keep your luggage light, plan to dress in layers. Start with a daily base layer that’s cool enough to wear on its own. For instance, a short-sleeve or lightweight long sleeve shirt, and leggings or pants. Merino wool or synthetic fabrics are a great choice for this layer. Pack a change of base layer for each day of your trip.

Next, add a warmer middle layer. A sweater, down jacket, or fleece sweatshirt is a great choice. These will help to keep you warm and can be easily removed if temperatures climb. These can also be worn and re-worn throughout your trip, saving you space in your packing.

Finally, finish with a waterproof top layer. A rain jacket will protect your other clothes from rain or mist on the water, and will also help to block the wind on a breezy day. You can wear this layer, as well as your middle layer, on your flight to keep your bag lighter.

Wear Your Boots on Your Flight

A pair of waterproof hiking boots is a must-have if you’re planning to hike or to visit a BC fishing lodge during your visit to Sointula. But these can take up a lot of space in your luggage and weigh it down. 

To avoid this, plan to wear your boots on your flight, and pack any lighter shoes you’re bringing in your luggage instead.

Ask What Gear You’ll Need if Visiting a BC Fishing Lodge

Planning to visit a BC fishing lodge during your trip? Many—including our own Sointula Lodge—provide most of the gear that you’ll need each day. This includes fishing gear, as well as float coats and other essentials. 

Knowing that all fishing gear will be provided for you makes it easier to cut down on any unnecessary packing. That way you can focus on bringing the right clothing and other essentials in your luggage instead.

Planning Your Next Visit to Sointula

Traveling by floatplane to Sointula is a great way to get a jump start on the adventure during your next visit! And with these packing tips, you can keep your luggage light and still have everything you’ll need for hiking, fishing, exploring, and more!

Now is a great time to start planning your summer visit to Sointula! Check out our planning resources today to get started!