The kayak (or original qajaq) has been an integral part of Inuit culture and history, both for the Inuit of High Arctic Canada, namely the territory of Nunavut, where Baffin Island is located, and the Inuit of Greenland, where many believe the first kayak was constructed. Designed originally for hunting, the kayak was eventually used for traveling. Inuit would kayak Baffin Island waters on the hunt for seals and other wildlife. Today, kayaking along the coast of Baffin Island and elsewhere in Nunavut is a popular activity. To kayak Baffin Island and other parts of the Canadian High Arctic takes some planning.
Quark Expeditions guests kayaking in the Arctic, one of the many off-ship activities available on polar voyages.
Photo: Acacia Johnson
Where is Baffin Island
Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada and the fifth-largest in the entire world, lies between the mainland of Canada and Greenland. The vast sprawling island domain that is Baffin Island is located on the easternmost side of Nunavut, above the Arctic Circle.
Stunning vista of the northeast coast of Baffin Island. Photo: Quark Expeditions
How to get to Baffin Island
As any experienced traveler will tell you, the best (some would say only) way to get to Baffin Island is to travel with an experienced polar operator that is staffed with guides who are familiar with Arctic adventure. To start your research, see our How to Get to Baffin Island: Travel Guide, which will explain how to book a Baffin Island cruise and expedition, as well as things to see and do in the region. Once you’ve satisfied your desire to kayak Baffin Island, in the Canadian High Arctic, you’ll soon discover there are endless other activities and adventures available in Baffin Island and other parts of Nunavut.
So, how to get to Baffin Island once you’ve arrived in Canada from your original destination: Most international travelers, after they’ve flown to Canada, typically transfer to a domestic flight either from Ottawa or Montreal or from Ottawa to Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, which encompasses Baffin Island. Some travelers fly from Winnipeg, Manitoba (the province just west of Ontario) to Rankin Inlet. Your polar operator will guide you in terms of planning how to get to Baffin Island from your original destination.
Baffin Island Weather
Getting a handle on Baffin Island weather is as important as figuring out how to get to Baffin Island in the most efficient (and safest) way possible. This is especially important if you plan to kayak Baffin Island.
Baffin Island has an extremely cold climate, and that’s due to the fact that it’s situated in the path of a northerly airflow twelve months out of the year. This makes for long cold winters and cloudy summers. Visitors to Baffin Island, especially those who wish to kayak Baffin Island, should appreciate that Baffin Island weather patterns mean you can encounter snow at any time of year. However, that is least likely in the month of July and the first part of August. The average annual temperatures encountered at Iqaluit, which is 220 kilometers from the shores of Baffin Island, hover around −9.5 °C (14.9 °F).
Asking about Baffin Island weather is generally a prelude to asking when is the best time to go to Baffin Island—especially for anyone who wishes to kayak Baffin Island. In late August and September, Baffin Island will likely have less ice which is a boon for kayakers. It’s during this period that remote, rarely-visited places such as Baffin Island and other parts of Nunavut are easier to navigate—by polar vessel and kayak, of course.
Remote Baffin Island attracts wildlife enthusiasts, kayakers, polar history buffs and other types of polar
adventurers. Photo: Quark Expeditions
Kayak Baffin Island: How to choose the best polar operator
Quark Expeditions offers a sea kayak program in the Arctic, as well as a paddling program in the Arctic, in which participants with less experience than seasoned kayakers use sit-on-top easy-to-paddle kayaks. For any guest who wishes to kayak Baffin Island, rest assured they’ll be accompanied by an experienced kayak guide at all times—as well as a second guide in another Zodiac. Guest safety and comfort are always foremost during off-ship adventure activities with Quark Expeditions.
Quark Expeditions’ Best of the Western Arctic: Canada and Greenland is one voyage you may wish to consider as it includes a visit to the northerly coast of Baffin Island, and Greenland as well—where many believe the kayak was invented.
Some combined Canadian Arctic and Greenland voyages enable guests to kayak in
both destinations. Photo: Quark Expeditions
Whether you’re planning to kayak Baffin Island, or considering other off-ship adventures in Nunavut and elsewhere in the Arctic, it’s always important to choose a polar operator with proven experience and one that employs guides and crew who are experts in the Polar Regions. Quark Expeditions has been taking consumer travelers to the Arctic since 1991—and focuses exclusively on polar voyages to the Arctic and Antarctic. Every guide working for Quark Expeditions—and this includes the kayak guides, of course—undergo rigorous training at Quark Academy in polar safety, guiding, wilderness, polar climatology, sea ice, and other subjects.