Small Ship Tour Operators Association (SSTOA) Initiative – The members of this group have informally collaborated for decades, as the model of these operators’ experiences requires sharing places and resources, working together to protect the coastal areas they operate, developing best practices based on ecotourism principles, and collaborating on maritime regulations, events and environments that are unique to overnight small ship tours. The SSTOA was created to provide a more structured and consistent way for these busy owner-operators to get their work done, and address the many questions that arise as the adventure travel industry becomes more well-known.

The Small Ship Tour Operators Association of British Columbia is comprised of seven 100% Canadian owned and operated, small-ship based travel companies that specialize in providing niche wilderness travel experiences for small groups of 6-24 passengers, along the British Columbia and Alaska coastline. In particular, they operate in the Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, and Great Bear Rainforest regions.

2021 SSTOA Coastal Cleanup

Supporting Partners:

2020 SSTOA Coastal Cleanup

  • #BCCoastalCleanup: On Aug 18, 2020, a fleet of tourism ships began an unprecedented, six-week expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest’s outer coast as part of the Marine Debris Removal Initiative (MDRI), a project funded by the provincial Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy. 
  • CLICK HERE to read more about this incredible project. 

About the SSTOA

Although the companies and vessels comprising the SSTOA are diverse in nature, they share the following qualities and characteristics:

  1. All tours are nature-based, featuring the finest wilderness and wildlife of “SuperNatural” British Columbia.
  2. Tours are typically a week in length, allowing guests to be immersed in the wilderness and cultures of the BC coast and travel well off the beaten path.
  3. Vessels are exceptionally well outfitted, necessarily capable of operating safely and self- sufficiently for weeks at a time, and are certified by Transport Canada as passenger-carrying vessels – one of the highest standards of safety in the world.
  4. The crews operating these vessels are professional mariners and wilderness guides, with exceptional knowledge and experience operating in the farthest reaches of the BC coast. The companies are proud to be locally owned and operated and employing highly skilled local citizens in meaningful careers.
  5. They have a long history of close and positive relationships with Indigenous Nations and communities, both informally, and formally through collaborative tourism protocol agreements.
  6. They are fundamentally conservation-minded entrepreneurs and have chosen these career and business paths because of their dedication and passion for protecting and sharing the wonders of the BC coast.
  7. They have demonstrated the ability to work together for the common good of coastal BC wilderness, wildlife and sustainable tourism’s role in the conservation economy.
  8. They are experts in organizing the logistics, trip planning and supply chains required for remote coastal expeditions, and the loading and unloading of vessels in remote areas.

Together, these companies have envisioned and created the safari-like expeditions on the BC coast that are now renowned around the world as exceptional holidays among wildlife, nature and indigenous cultural experiences. Trips are frequently featured in international magazines, award ceremonies and on the offerings of high-quality international tour operators.


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