Barreling down the hill almost into Broughton Straight, Port McNeill is a useful supply stop for long-distance travelers heading to or from Port Hardy. More a superior motel than a resort, the hilltop Black Bear Resort overlooks the town and is conveniently located across from shops and restaurants.
Built as a one-shack telegraph station, this charming destination has since expanded into one of the north's main visitor lures. Its pioneer-outpost feel is enhanced by the dozens of brightly painted wooden buildings perched around the marina on stilts. Be aware that it can get very crowded in summer.
Located on Cormorant Island, this visitor-friendly village has an ancient and mythical appeal, plus a lovely, walkable waterfront. Its First Nations community and traditions still dominate, but its blend with an old pioneer fishing settlement makes it an even more fascinating day trip from Port McNeill.
Cape Scott Provincial Park
It's more than 550km from Victoria to the nature-hugging trailhead of this remote park on the island's crenulated northern tip. This should be your number-one destination if you really want to experience the raw, ravishing beauty of BC, especially its unkempt shorelines, breeze-licked rainforests and stunning sandy bays animated with tumbling waves and beady-eyed seabirds.