This is our Cambridge Bay guide for visitors, part of our series of crowd-sourced Nunavut community travel guides. If you would like to write a guide for your community, please send us an email! This guide was written by Gloria Song.
Cambridge Bay (Inuinnaqtun name: Ikaluktutiak; population: approximately 1700 people) is tucked comfortably within the Arctic circle, getting about six weeks of darkness in the winter when the sun does not rise, as well as six weeks in the summer where the sun does not deep below the horizon at all. Unlike Baffin Island, the land around Cambridge Bay is generally flat with some gentle rolling hills (Mount Pelly, 200 metres in height, is one exception). It’s important to note that the local indigenous language spoken here is Innuinaqtun, not Inuktitut. However, the majority of Cambridge Bay residents speak English.
Where to Eat
This cafeteria-style restaurant located at the Inns North hotel also serves as a popular social meeting place in Cambridge Bay, since it is more or less the only sit-down restaurant in town. Arctic Islands Lodge serves a selection of burgers, fries, and sandwiches. Weekend brunches are popular here, as well as Friday lunches, the latter drawing in most of Cambridge Bay every week.
Cambridge Bay offers Indian/Bangladeshi takeout! Just call Salma up with your order at 418-821-4782 with at least two hours’ in advance, and she’ll have delicious meals, hot and ready for pickup.
Olapkivik Game Hall
If you're just looking for a quick snack late at night, this place sells candy, freezies, sandwiches, and burgers to go. It also features a foosball table, air hockey table, and pool table, which makes it a popular hang-out spot for the younger crowd. Open daily from 7-11PM, or midnight on weekends.
This convenience store, also open from 7-11PM, is another great place to satisfy your late-night craving for munchies. Dis & Dat sells chips, pop, candy bars, plus a number of other useful household items like butter and diapers.
Where to Sleep
Green Row offers condo-style suites, complete with separate bedrooms, living room with a 55 inch Samsung flat screen TV with satellite, dining room, fully furnished kitchen (including your own Keurig machine). Some hotel rooms even feature a Jacuzzi! The hotel also offers its guest access to the fitness facility and the option of vehicle rentals.
If you're not in the mood to cook your own meals, then the Lodge may be a good option for you, as it is attached to the community's only restaurant. Hotel rooms feature private bathrooms, a bar fridge, and a TV.
Cambridge Bay’s newest hotel offers both regular hotel rooms and executive suites. Their rooms and suites have TV and wifi; guests have shared access to laundry facilities and a kitchen.
What to Do
Go for a hike. there is no shortage of places to hike, all varying in length. Because most of these trails are relatively flat, they also making great running routes. Trail options include:
- Water Lake (2.5km each way), where many people walk their dogs out on the tundra.
- The stone church (5km each way), which has been recently restored. Nearby on the shore, you can also check out the the Eagle, a beached ship that was abandoned by a missionary in 1954.
- Mount Pelly in Ovayok Territorial Park(~13 km each way). Once you arrive at the park, be sure to climb up the mountain – it will only take you about twenty-five minutes to get to the top at a normal pace.
- The gravel pit area (11km each way), where many Cambridge Bay residents have their cabins. If you continue along this road, you will also come across the Japanese monuments, erected in memory of Japanese students who disappeared while traveling around Victoria Island by boat.
Go fishing. You can get fishing licenses from the Co-op (~$10) and try your hand at catching your own char dinner. Popular fishing spots are at the river or near the gravel pit, but kids will fish right off the federal dock, too.
Go kayaking or canoeing. Paying the $25 and successfully completing the wet exit test (where you flip your kayak in the Arctic Ocean!) gets you year-long membership in the Ikaluktutiak Paddling Association and access to the club's kayaks, canoes, life jackets, wetsuits, and other safety equipment. Be sure to check out the shipwreck Maud near the stone church.
Visit the Arctic Coast Visitors Centre. This is a great spot to start your visit in Cambridge Bay, as the Visitors Centre provides helpful information about tourism activities in the area. It also features displays of artwork and furs and is a good spot to buy souvenirs.
Visit the Kitikmeot Heritage Society May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre. Located in the high school, this centre serves as a little museum with exhibits showing traditional life in the Arctic. It’s a great place to buy sealskin products made by local elders. The centre also doubles as the community library where you can rent books and DVDs and use the public computers to go on the Internet.
Watch a hockey game. Cambridge Bay folks love their hockey teams! The stands are usually packed full of families cheering for their favourite local team. With their loud enthusiasm, you'd think they were watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, except tickets cost only a few dollars.
Buy meat at Kitkmeot Foods Ltd. Kitikmeot Foods sells char and muskox meat in every style you can imagine. Makes for great gifts for folks back home!
Swim at the public pool. Only available in the summer months.
Play sports. Cambridge Bay offers an impressive variety of recreational activities that are usually operated on a drop-in basis and for free, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, badminton, and ultimate frisbee. Check with the hamlet office for times and locations.
Take a yoga classes. Offered Monday evenings from 6:00-7:30PM, usually at the double portables behind the high school. By donation.
Get fit at the Fitness Room. Located in the hamlet building, the Fitness Room is modest in size but does offer an assortment of weights and cardio machines. It is also a great place to meet people!
Shop at a Community Sale. Once in a while the community holds a market-style sale in the community centre or the high school, where artists sell their latest works, bakers sell their yummy treats, and families who are doing a deep cleaning purge sell their secondhand goods. Check the grocery store bulletin boards for upcoming sales!
Gloria Song is a resident of Cambridge Bay and writer of the travel blog Run Gloria Run. By day, she works as a lawyer and by night, she plays music as part of the indie band Scary Bear Soundtrack. That’s when she’s not hiking, kayaking, fishing, playing ultimate Frisbee, or partaking in any of the surprisingly numerous fun distractions that Cambridge Bay has to offer.