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Desolation Sound is a tiny region but we highlight it because it offers an experience beyond civilization, within the sheltered, warm waters of the Salish Sea. Desolation Sound Marine Park is considered by many boaters to be the one of the top cruising grounds in the world. The waters of Desolation Sound are calm and sheltered with lots of protected anchorages, and plentiful oysters, clams, crabs, prawns and salmon. The park consists of more than 14,000 acres of land and 6,350 acres of shoreline and water. There are four lakes and a waterfall in Desolation Sound Marine Park.
Warm summer temperatures and the meeting of the tides create mild climate, warm water and rich sea life.
Surprisingly, the warmest salt water north of Mexico (27°C/82°F) awaits swimmers in Pendrell Sound. Travel Hint: Warm waters make Desolation Sound a ideal May or September destination. That is when you can have the sound of whales blowing, the taste of freshly caught fish and crab and the sight of foraging bears all to yourself.
Prideaux Haven As the name suggests, it is tranquil in this incredibly beautiful, well-protected maze of islets, coves, inlets, and passages. In the summer, Prideaux Haven is one of the most popular anchorages on the B.C. coast, with warm salt water swimming and socializing among friendly vacationers.
Tenedos Bay This bay is more than 300 feet deep in the central area, but there are lots of coves and nooks shallow enough for small craft. The most protected anchorages are at the north end of the bay, but the eastern area is usually the busiest, with a short trail onshore leading to Unwin Lake — an idyllic, secluded swimming area. Fresh water is available here.
Okeover Arm This inlet offers a marina in Penrose Bay as well as Okeover Resort, Okeover Provincial Park, and a public float on its western shore. Power is available here, but there is no water and no garbage dump. Anchorages are located in the warm, sheltered waters of Penrose Bay and near the head of the inlet. Much of this Okeover Arm is leased as oyster beds.
Grace Harbour Coming in from Malaspina Inlet, there are several anchorages here, and lots of areas to explore. The inner harbour is completely protected and the shore offers trails and old logging roads for hiking — including a path to a fresh water lake for swimming. Boaters can beach dinghies and check out a park information board showing the surroundings.
Other favourite anchorages in the Desolation Sound area include Pendrell Sound, Roscoe Bay and Teakerne Arm on the Redonda Islands, while Mansons Landing and Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island are also wonderful places to stop — for more information on these areas see the Discovery Islands section.
The nearest ports are Powell River and Lund. A full range of services is available at Powell River. Desolation Sound is often the crowning stop on a circle tour of the Salish Sea. The quickest route — about 100 nautical miles from Vancouver — is via the Sunshine Coast.
Explore a British Columbia that few people without a boat have seen. Surround yourself with majestic scenery, abundant wildlife and plenty of fishing opportunities. To the east of Campbell River and just north of Desolation Sound you’ll find a large network of tidal channels and inlets that are home to both resident and migrating salmon. Go mooching in deep inlets or find a spot in a tidal rip to catch a passing Chinook, and don’t forget to drop a prawn trap on the way.
Main image at top of page: Killer whales abound, credit Pacific Yellowfin Charters