Bella Bella is a community of about 1400 people on Campbell Island, British Columbia.
Bella Bella is the largest community to be found on the Central Coast north of Queen Charlotte Strait. It is home to the Heiltsuk First Nation. Services in Bella Bella include a large general store, the Bella Bella Community School, Alexa's restaurant, the Koeye Cafe, the Thistalalh Memorial Library, an RCMP police station, the Bella Bella Medical Clinic, staffed by 3 physicians and a Nurse Practitioner, and R.W. Large Memorial Hospital and its pharmacy.
Bella Bella is the main Heiltsuk community within Heiltsuk traditional territory.
Hudson's Bay Company operated Fort McLoughlin between 1832 and 1842. A community of Heiltsuk people developed at McLoughlin Bay, south of the current location. When the fort was closed, the village remained.
The village moved between 1898 and the early 20th century to the present site. Heiltsuk oral history tells of a dispute with the store owner at the original town. The store owner had acquired the land that had been the old Hudson's Bay Company fort and would not allow the community to expand on 'his' land – prompting the entire community to abandon the site and move to a larger site – the present location of the village.
This village was called "New Bella Bella", and later just "Bella Bella". Bella Bella was composed of relatively new European-style houses and a boardwalk. By 1903 the new town was fairly well established. The mission was complete with a hospital, mission house and school which doubled as a church.
In 1993 the Heiltsuk hosted an ocean-going canoe festival at Bella Bella. Called 'Qatuwas – the event was an important milestone in the ongoing renaissance in Northwest Coast Ocean-going canoes. Some 25 canoes from First Nations up and down the coast paddled to Bella Bella for a week-long cultural sharing event. A second 'Qatuwas festival was held in Bella Bella in 2014.
In 2015, a crisis erupted over a long-simmering dispute between the Heiltsuk and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) over the crucial herring stocks. Citing concern for the stocks and Heiltsuk rights, as well as taking issue with DFO predictive models, the Heiltsuk occupied the local DFO office for 4 days. The crisis abated when the remainder of the commercial herring fleet departed and the Heiltsuk and DFO agreed to discuss the next season's management.
There are no roads into Bella Bella as it is on an island.
- Bella Bella (Campbell Island) Airport. Pacific Coastal Airlines operates flights from Port Hardy (with connections from Vancouver) once daily in the winter and twice daily in the summer. From Vancouver the total journey (with the stop in Port Hardy) is about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The Shearwater Resort also operates a private plane for bringing its guests up.
BC Ferries operates the "Discovery Coast Passage" route from Port Hardy. Different ferries leaving on different days stop at different communities up the coast. The full route stops at the following destinations: Port Hardy — Bella Bella — Shearwater — Klemtu — Ocean Falls — Bella Coola. Service is not constant and you should check the schedules to make sure the ferry stops where your going. The vast majority of people fly in because of the time saved. However, a round trip from Vancouver is often as much as a trip to Europe at around $550. But if you want to take the ferry from Vancouver you must first go either to Victoria of Nanaimo and then drive up to Port Hardy and take the ferry across to Bella Bella.
Unless you bring your car on the ferry, you have to walk around town; which is not difficult: 10 minutes from one end to the other and 15 minutes to the airport.
To get to the Shearwater resort it is a 15-minute boat ride; the Shearwater operates a water taxi which runs every 1 to 2 hours; $5 one-way for visitors.
There are also two taxis that meet all the planes coming in.
There are two islands: Campbell Island and Denny Island. Old Bella Bella is on Denny Island along with the Shearwater. New Bella Bella is on Campbell Island. The only way to get between the two is by boat (see above). They both have their own airstrips.
Rent a boat from the Shearwater and just putt around, or enjoy some of the best fishing in the world.
The Shearwater also has packages available; which includes flight from Vancouver, meals and fishing. It is common to see groups of men (generally older) come up on a company holiday/business trip.
There is a band store in Bella Bella, a grocery store in the Shearwater resort, and several small private shops and vendors.
The Shearwater has a full restaurant/pub. The other option for food is Brown's dinner in Bella Bella. There's one cafe in Bella Bella right near the wharf with (sometimes shaky) internet access.
The Shearwater's pub.
Your choices are very limited, as it is only a community of 1,400.
- Shearwater Resort & Fishing Lodge, #2 Oceanview Road, toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Salmon fishing and wildlife/adventure tour destination at the gateway to BC's Great Bear Rainforest. Marina and restaurant. Single from $110,double from $125, tent site $20, RV site $40.
- King Pacific Lodge, Milbanke Sound, toll-free: . A fishing lodge. 4-day, 3-night package including airfare from Vancouver, meals, fishing guide from $5000 per person.
- Bella Guest Cabins, 7 Waglisla Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Minutes from BC Ferries, the Bella Bella Airport, boat launch access, and boat dockage. Each unit has one bedroom with a queen size bed; full bath/shower; full kitchen (fridge, counter-top stove-top, microwave, coffee maker, kettle, toaster, all kitchen/cooking utensils, etc.); propane gas grill BBQ on the deck; dining room; living room with arm chair & one queen size sofa pull-out bed (+$20); a flat screen TV with satellite dish service; and Wi-Fi. Single or double: Oct 1-Apr 30 $140-165; May 1-Sep 30 $155-170.
On Denny Island there is the Denny Island B&B (10-15 minute walk to the Shearwater) and the Whiskey Cove B&B (20-25 minute walk to the Shearwater).
Bella Bella has its own police department and circuit court.
You have to get out the same way you got in; either by boat or by plane.
Pacific Coastal Airlines operates flights up the coast to Klemtu and Oceanfalls. Pacific Coastal does not operate direct flights to Bella Coola; meaning you have to come down to Vancouver and up again. You can always take the ferry to Bella Coola.