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Where to See Polar Bears in Canada [Our 10 Favourite Spots]

Where to See Polar Bears in Canada [Our 10 Favourite Spots]

When it comes to the wild magnificence of polar bears, there’s no better place to witness their grandeur than in the great outdoors of Canada. 

Excellent swimmers, skilled hunters, adorable fluff-balls—getting a chance to see these white giants up close is as exhilarating as nailing a perfect recipe! 

We understand the allure—it’s the same thrill we get when creating the best of the best in cooking equipment.

So, join us as we map out the best places in Canada for polar bear sightings, much like we would guide you in selecting the perfect kitchen gear. Read on!

Can you drive to see polar bears in Canada?

While it’s certainly possible to drive within Canada to areas known for polar bear sightings, it’s important to note that actually getting to the polar bear habitats requires more specialized transportation. 

For example, Churchill, in Manitoba, known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World, is not reachable by regular roads; you’ll need to take a train or plane to get there.

Additionally, Ontario’s Polar Bear Provincial Park requires a flight to access since it lacks visitor facilities and is far removed from typical transportation routes. A special permit is also required before visiting the park.

For those who really want to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures, joining a guided tour can be a great option. These typically involve using rugged, all-terrain vehicles designed to negotiate the challenging tundra environment.

An added advantage of these tours is that they maintain a safe and respectful distance from the bears, ensuring both your safety and the wellbeing of the bears.

Our 10 Favorite Places to See Polar Bears in Canada

Churchill, Manitoba


When it comes to experiencing the awe-inspiring beauty of polar bears, Churchill, Manitoba, simply can’t be beat. With its prime location on the western shore of Hudson Bay, Churchill has earned the well-deserved title of Polar Bear Capital of the World”.

Every fall, hundreds of these magnificent animals gather near the town as they wait for the sea ice to form, providing visitors with unparalleled opportunities to see polar bears in their natural habitat. 

Viewing excursions in Churchill vary, but one thing remains the same: safety and expertise are paramount. You can join guided tours in specialized tundra vehicles, keeping both the bears and the adventurous observers protected. 

But polar bears aren’t the only natural wonder to be found in Churchill; the area is also an excellent place to witness the breathtaking Northern Lights.

Local Tip: Be sure to try the local delicacy, elk stew, during your visit to Churchill!

Wapusk National Park, Manitoba


For those seeking a more immersive and unspoiled experience, look no further than Wapusk National Park. This remote park in northeastern Manitoba is one of the world’s largest polar bear denning areas and provides an unparalleled chance to see them.

To access Wapusk National Park, travelers must join guided tours that prioritize safety and conservation. This means that visitor numbers are limited, but the experience is all the more exceptional because of it.

Here, you’ll also find the opportunity to spot other Arctic animals such as Arctic foxes, wolves, and snow geese. In addition to its rich wildlife, Wapusk National Park boasts a stunning array of landscapes, from tundra to boreal forest.

Local Tip: Book your Wapusk National Park tour well in advance, as the limited visitor spots fill up quickly!

Cape Churchill, Manitoba


For an even more exclusive and remote polar bear experience, Cape Churchill is the destination you’ve been dreaming of. 

Located within Wapusk National Park, Cape Churchill is only accessible via a multi-day guided tour, ensuring a truly intimate adventure in the heart of polar bear territory.

Cape Churchill is most famous for its population of polar bear mothers and cubs. As one of the most critical denning locations for polar bears, this area provides a rare glimpse into the early lives of these animals.

Perhaps one of the most thrilling ways to experience Cape Churchill is by joining an overnight tour in a mobile tundra buggy lodge. 

These innovative lodges are designed to maximize guests’ comfort and provide a safe, immersive environment to witness polar bears up close without disrupting their natural behavior.

Local Tip: When packing for your Cape Churchill adventure, remember to bring layers to protect against the unpredictable Arctic weather.

Akpatok Island, Nunavut


Akpatok Island is a hidden gem, folks—not your typical tourist hotspot. Not only is it a favorite chill-out spot for our furry friends due to the abundance of seals, but it’s also one of the largest bird cliff colonies in the North.

However, let’s not forget that getting there can be quite an adventure. Akpatok Island is not the easiest place to reach, and you’re going to need guided tours.

But if you’re up for a challenge and love the thrill of seeking out the elusive polar bear in a wild and remote setting, this is perfect for you. You can hop aboard an expedition cruise, sit back, relax, and enjoy the mesmerizing landscape.

Keep in mind, though, that unlike other commercialized locations, Akpatok Island doesn’t have a ton of amenities. But hey, that just completes the rugged arctic wilderness experience, because you’ll be getting those ‘I’m a real adventurer’ vibes.

Local Tip: Pack plenty of warm layers because things can get pretty chilly on Akpatok Island, even during the summer!

Hudson Bay, Manitoba


Hudson Bay’s rugged coastline delivers that raw, untamed Arctic vibe like no other, creating a truly unique backdrop for your polar bear viewing experience. 

Imagine seeing these magnificent creatures against a landscape that’s as imposing as it’s beautiful—it’s scenic overload in the best possible way. Guided tours are available, and honestly, they’re the way to go. 

These folks know the terrain, they know the weather, and most importantly, they know the bears. They provide context and insights that you won’t get otherwise. 

As you’re staring in awe at a mama polar bear and her cubs, your guide is filling you with tidbits about polar bear behavior, their diets, and the role they play in the ecosystem.

Local Tip: Pay attention to the guides; they’re brimming with fascinating facts!

Seal River Estuary, Manitoba


Only a 20-minute flight north of Churchill, Manitoba (which is pretty darn far north already), the Seal River Estuary is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for polar bears, thanks to the abundant seal population. 

This pretty much guarantees you’ll get up close and personal with the kings of the Arctic—with the safety of a guided tour, of course.

And if that wasn’t enough, picture this: enjoying some of the best food Manitoba has to offer, right in the middle of the Arctic, surrounded by nature. But remember, getting there isn’t too straightforward.

You’d typically have to fly into Churchill and, from there, take a small plane to the Seal River Heritage Lodge. It was a bit of a journey, but totally worth it.

Local Tip: Bring binoculars to enhance your viewing experience; you won’t regret it!

Baffin Island, Nunavut


Boasting a variety of ecosystems, including coastal tundra and ice floes, Baffin Island’s rich marine environment provides the perfect habitat for polar bears and an impressive array of other Arctic wildlife.

Many tour operators on Baffin Island also provide engaging cultural experiences. Visitors can learn about the unique history and traditions of the local Inuit populations, further enhancing the overall experience.

With its vast, pristine landscapes, Baffin Island is a true Arctic paradise for adventurers and polar bear enthusiasts alike. 

To maximize your enjoyment, be sure to explore the diverse array of activities, including dog sledding and snowmobiling, to complete your Arctic escapade.

Local Tip: Warm clothing is essential on Baffin Island, as the weather can be unpredictable, so pack accordingly!

Canadian Arctic Archipelago


The Canadian Arctic Archipelago offers a thoroughly immersive polar bear experience. Comprising 36,563 islands, this remarkable region allows visitors to venture beyond the mainland and dive deeper into untouched polar bear territory.

While guided tours are not always a strict requirement, hiring professional guides is highly recommended due to the remote and challenging nature of the area. 

Not only rich in polar bear populations, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago offers the rare opportunity to observe other iconic Arctic species such as narwhals, belugas, and walruses.

Local Tip: Always prioritize safety during your visit; follow the guidance of local experts and pay attention to polar bear safety precautions.

Arviat, Nunavut


Arviat, a coastal community in Nunavut, provides visitors with an extraordinary fusion of Inuit culture and impressive polar bear sightings. 

Located just north of Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital of the World, Arviat boasts remarkable polar bear encounters alongside deeply enriching cultural experiences.

Guided tours are essential in Arviat, as interactions with the charismatic locals and immersions into Inuit traditions are integral to your polar bear adventure. In addition to polar bears, Arviat is home to an incredible array of Arctic wildlife.

Local Tip: Keep an eye out for caribou, Arctic foxes, and snowy owls as you explore the diverse, untamed landscape. 
In addition, enjoy local cuisine such as Arctic char and bannock, rounding out your Arctic exploration with a delicious culinary experience.

Torngat Mountains National Park, Newfoundland


Torngat Mountains National Park, located in Newfoundland and Labrador, offers a truly unique and adventurous option for viewing polar bears. 

Nestled within a breathtaking landscape sculpted by ancient glaciers, this park presents a magical balance of geological features and wildlife wonders. Given the vast and rugged landscape, guided tours are essential for a safe, fulfilling journey. 

Venturing into the heart of the Torngat Mountains, you’ll have the opportunity to observe far more than just polar bears. Explore shimmering fjords, vividly colored tundra, and lush subarctic valleys teeming with an astounding variety of flora and fauna. 

In addition to unmatched polar bear sightings, Torngat Mountains National Park is home to an impressive range of other Arctic wildlife, such as caribou, seals, and seabirds.

Local Tip: Camping in the Torngat Mountains can be an extraordinary experience, but be prepared for fluctuating weather conditions by packing versatile clothing layers.
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