FROM DESOLATION SOUND
No matter how you get to Campbell River, it just keeps getting better and better. A common route is up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound and then through the Discovery Islands that stretch across the top of the Salish Sea. Sample the comforts and incredible cuisine at Refuge Cove Resort as you depart Desolation Sound. From there the direct route is across the bottom of Cortes Island and Quadra Island. The fishing is incredible and marine life abundant, but you will miss the rugged solitude of the Discovery chain on this route.
We recommend that you head up the east side of Cortes Island. Stop in at the Squirrel Cove General Store and feel the hospitality of yore. From there you can take the Lewis Channel northwest and either circumnavigate Cortes Island or go further into the Discovery chain. If you take the more adventurous route, stock up at the Stuart Island store, then visit Dent Island Lodge, Shoal Bay Lodge, and Blind Channel Resort as you round Sonora Island. Each of these high-comfort resorts has its own ambiance. All of them take your fishing very seriously. Go resort hopping: experience the wild, reward yourself with comfort.
After you round Sonora Island you can cut across the top of Quadra Island and continue you exploration of marine wilderness. On the northwest side of Quadra, Waiatt Bay offers many secluded anchorages, including Octopus Islands Marine Park. Or you can head down Discovery Passage, stopping at Browns Bay Resort and April Point Marina, Resort & Spa. Gowlland Harbour provides a quiet anchorage among five islands that are all park reserves. Quathiaski Cove has a public wharf, a few stores and luxurious Whiskey Point Lodge. There is an abundance of marine parks throughout the Discovery Islands. Each offers secluded anchorage in spectacular settings. Marine life is abundant here and the fishing is unsurpassed.
If you take the quick route, then be sure to visit Cortes Island, best known for its deep, steep-sided inlets, abundant shellfish on beaches and Ha’thayim Marine Provincial Park. Cortes Island Harbour Authority offers berths at Cortes Bay, Gorge Harbour and Whaletown. The Floathouse Restaurant at Gorge Harbour Marina Resort serves eclectic fresh seafood dishes, accompanied by a suitable wine. On the southwest side of the island, Mansons Landing Marine Park offers many snug anchorages and beaches with saltwater and freshwater swimming. The tiny settlement of Mansons Landing has a public dock, a pair of restaurants, a market and a museum.
Next on the direct route is Quadra Island, the largest and most populated of the magnificent Discovery Islands. Get acquainted with the region’s Aboriginal history at Kwagiulth Museum and Cultural Centre in Cape Mudge, at the southern tip of the island. Look for the Cape Mudge Lighthouse on your way by. Make a stop at Heriot Bay, home to Taku Resort and Marina, famed for weekend culinary retreats, Heriot Bay Inn & Marina and the Quadra Island Market with a bakery and liquor store. Nearby Rebecca Spit Marine Park is a favourite among boaters for its seaside hiking trails, sandy beaches and picnic areas. Quadra is celebrated for its gorgeous coastal scenery and unique local culture, featuring Quathiaski Cove as its primary port and commercial hub, just ten minutes from downtown Campbell River.
All routes lead to the hospitality of Campbell River.
FROM VICTORIA AND THE GULF ISLANDS
One of the fabulous features of British Columbia’s coast is the diversity of settings and experiences within close range. It is only 135 nautical miles from Victoria to Campbell River. Yet, they are worlds apart. Your voyage north is through the Gulf Islands, past alluring bays carving up Vancouver Island, a string of small communities, to Nanaimo, with its lively harbour. Sidney provides an ideal location for exploring the Gulf Islands and deep contours of the big Island. Many boaters community hop their way up Vancouver Island’s east side. Beginning in stately Victoria, each coastal community on the way north offers its particular charms. The sea and land get wilder as you journey north. The Salish Sea opens up, until you approach Campbell River and the Discovery Islands.
When you arrive in Campbell River you will feel the difference. You are on the verge of a massive ocean wilderness of islands and uninhabited shores. Campbell River is a major marine centre and provisioning base for exploration of all points beyond. See our route guide to the Discover Islands.
The Great Beyond
The Discovery Passage leads to Johnstone Strait, with the Broughton Archipelago beckoning on your right. The Village of Sayward with its opportunities for caving, kayaking, hiking, whale watching, and wildlife viewing, is your first stop. You remain in fairly protected waters as you pass the welcoming communities of Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill and Port Hardy. Be sure to visit the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay. If your plan is to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, see our guide.
Wherever you are headed, you will want to stop in Campbell River, the last major port city on your way north. Or the first major port city on your way south from Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert or Alaska. The seas around us are wild. We welcome you as our sea-faring guest.