Our Route around Vancouver Island

Map of Vancouver Island. We plan on kayaking all around it
Map of Vancouver Island. We plan on kayaking all around it

We are excited to share that we are leaving on the expedition in under three weeks! We plan to head out on June 22, the day after Father’s Day.  Fun fact, I found out that June 22, 2015 is also Discovery Day, a holiday in Newfoundland commemorates John Cabot’s arrival at the province in 1497. While our trip is across the country from Newfoundland, it is kinda cool to start this epic expedition on a day named Discovery!

Our goals (*ahem* not expectations – read my blog post on expectations versus goals for a long expedition by clicking here) is to spend about 5 weeks going up the inside of Vancouver Island, stand on Cape Scott at the northern tip for our second anniversary of our wedding on July 27 (I love you, honey!) and spend another 5 weeks paddling down the outside of the Island (hopefully with those NW winds that plagued us going up to Alaska last time).

Our end date is September 10-11 fitting between vacations our family members are going on and going back to school to upgrade his electrical ticket for Bryan!

Part 1 – The Gulf Islands – Victoria to Nanaimo

Part 1 - Victoria to Nanaimo

  • Mainland to Victoria BC Ferries from Twassassen to Swartz Bay, kayak to Portland Island in the Gulf Islands that night to camp
  • Portland Island, Prevost Island, Wallace Island, Valdes Island, DeCourcy Island and Newcastle Island
  • A couple of the highlights: Cool sandstone cliffs on Valdes Island especially northwest of Blackberry Point, Hole in the Wall “one of those special places” narrow passage between sculpted sandstone with a crushed shell bed between Link and De Courcy Island

Part 2 – Strait of Georgia – Nanaimo to Lund

part 2 nanaimo to lund

  • It becomes a long series of private property between Nanaimo to Campbell River and while beaches are public property in Canada up to the high tide line, it is really awkward and sometimes confrontational. We instead use Lasqueti and Texada Islands as are more wild option for our marine highway through the top end of the Strait of Georgia
  • Gerald Island, Home Bay on Jedediah Island, Texada Island, Harwood Island or Powell River, Lund
  • A couple highlights include: paddle through the only sea cave in the Gulf Islands on north shore of Jesse Island, Jedediah Island (tucked between Lasqueti and Texada Islands) is in the middle of a small archipelago gaining popularity as perfect for kayaking!

Part 3 – Discovery Islands and Johnston Strait – Lund to Telegraph Cove

part 3 lund to telegraph cove

  • Early explorers through Vancouver was just a large peninsula off the mainland and it is easy to see why they thought so as Vancouver Island and the mainland blur in a myriad of little waterways between the labyrinth of the Discovery Islands. Challenges here include strange currents swirling around the islands and tidal rapids. As we get into Johnston Strait, the waterway opens up and we are joined by orcas on their migration path!
  • Marina  Island, South Rendezvous Island, Hole in the Wall (rapids), Francisco Island in the Octopus Islands group, Okisollo Channel (upper and lower rapids), Little Bear Bay, Robson Bight Ecological Reserve (camp by it but not inside since it’s an orca reserve), Telegraph Cove
  • A couple highlights include: The sweet little 8 island archipelago Octopus Islands surrounded tightly by a wider ring of islands that we squeeze though on narrow little passageways guarded by rapids (don’t worry, we paddle through on slack tide avoiding the rapids and whirlpools), orcas who travel up Johnston Strait and visiting rubbing beaches of smooth pebbles – we may camp by three of these beaches!

Part 4 – North End of the Island – Telegraph Cove to Winter Harbour

part 4 telegraph cove to winter harbour

  • This is probably one of the most challenging parts of our kayaking trip, rounding the fearsome Cape Scott at the north end of Vancouver Island. On a closer look, the Cape itself looks like a claw reaching out into the seas. Weather, wind and surf are our challenges here but there are also beautiful scenery with long sandy beaches to enjoy.
  • Port McNeill (resupply and restock stop), Cattle Islands, Bell Island, Nigei Island, Cape Sutil, Experimental Bight, Helen Islands, Topknot Point, Grants Bay, Winter Harbour
  • A couple highlights include: God’s Pocket Provincial  Marine Park in the islands by Port Hardy, the awesome Cape Scott Provincial Park with its beautiful beaches!

Part 5 – Brooks Peninsula – Winter Harbour to Rugged Point

part 5 winter harbour to rugged point

  • After Cape Scott, our next challenge is the mighty Brooks Pennisula, an 800m high and 14m projection off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. However, with the right planning and waiting for the right conditions, it is an amazing place full of wildlife from birds to sea otters to lots, lots more!
  • Rowley Reefs Peninsula, Heater Point, Crabapple Islets, Paradise Beach, Bunsby Islands, Mission Group, Rugged Point
  • A couple highlights include the Sea Otter reserve in the the Checeleset Bay (Bunsby Islands) and kayaking through the Mission Group

Part 6 – Nootka Sound – Rugged Point to Hotspring Cove

part 6 rugged point to hotsprings cove

  • We have an option for inside passage around Nootka Island or the outside. Both routes are basically equal in kilometers and we can decide when we get there. We might want a break from the exposed coastline and ready for a nice quiet waterway paddle.
  • Catala Islands, Lord Waterfall, Santiago Creek in Tahsis Passage, Bligh Island/Yuquot, Barcester Bay, Hesquiat Harbour, Hotsprings Cove
  • A couple highlights will be Bligh Island Marine Park in Nootka Sound and the lovely and well deserved hotsprings in Hotspings Cove

Part 7 – Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds – Hotsprings Cove to Bamfield

part 7 hotsprings cove to bamfield

  • We have another choice here to go the inside route in Clayoquot Sound or the outside route – inside has serene waterways while the outside has glorious beaches. After a couple days off in Tofino, we will have lots of beaches anyways navigating Long Beach to Ucluelet where we will hop into  Barkley Sound for the Broken Group and Deer Group islands
  • Francis Island, Dodd Island, Gibraltar Island, Ross Islets in the Deer Group/Bamfield
  • A couple highlights include kayaking the Broken and Deer Groups in Barkley Sound! Those are both places I have wanted to kayak for so long!

Part 8 – Juan de Fuca Strait – Bamfield to Victoria

part 8 bamfield to victoria

  • The final hurrah of the expedition where our challenge now is few and far between campsites. We will have some long days in this section as it is just straight coast without many inlets or islands.
  • Transiting the Pacific Rim National Park and the famous West Coast Trail perhaps with stops at Tsusiat Falls, Carmanah Point, Trasher Cove by Port Renfrew, Mystic Beach….and then there is a bit of a camping desert as we get closer to Victoria….suggestions and recommendations anyone?
  • A couple highlights: we’re basically doing both the famous West Coast Trail and the Juan de Fuca trail…marine editions! A victory beer in Victoria!
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6 thoughts on “Our Route around Vancouver Island”

  1. Sounds like a great plan…I’m jealous. Hey – forgot to tell you guys that you’re legends with the hostel staff in Cafeyate – they kept talking about Maggie and Bryan while I stayed there!

    Liked by 1 person

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