Provincial Coastal Marine Parks

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Marine Visitor Guide

Desolation Sound | Sunshine Coast | Johnstone Strait | Gulf Islands | Lower Mainland – Howe Sound | Central Coast | North Coast | West Coast

Rugged Point Provincial Park – Photo by Jen Steel

Desolation Sound

With warm waters and breathtaking scenery, Desolation Sound is known as a boater’s paradise and one of the most popular boating destinations in British Columbia. Desolation Sound is comprised with over 8,449 hectares of Marine Provincial Park and can be split into three major destination anchorages: Prideaux Haven, Tenedo’s Bay and Grace Harbour. Within Desolation Sound there are four lakes and one waterfall called Cassel Falls in Teakerne Arm.
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Desolation Sound - Melanie Cove and Prideaux Haven
Desolation Sound - Melanie Cove and Prideaux Haven
Many kayakers and boaters launch their vessels and start their adventure from Lund Harbour or Okeover Harbour Government Dock; other boaters will arrive by boat from the Georgia Strait. There are eleven designated campsites throughout Desolation Sound, the Copeland Islands and Malaspina Provincial Marine Parks. Waters are calm and sheltered with protected anchorages; there are nine anchorage areas in Desolation Sound: the Copeland Islands, Cormorant Channel, Háthayim (Von Donop), Rebecca Spit, Rob Bay, Roscoe Bay and Small Inlet. Rebecca Spit offers facilities that include picnic tables overlooking the beach, a grass playing field, and wheelchair accessible pit toilets.

Boaters can explore over 60 kilometres of unique shoreline, and have the opportunity to see the Northern Orca whales in their natural habitat, visit Mitlenatch Island to see the largest seabird colony in the Georgia Strait, and snorkel or scuba dive in warm ocean temperatures.

Sunshine Coast

Stretching from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound, the Sunshine Coast is a popular route to the Princess Louisa Inlet. Secluded bays, archipelagos, and stunning inlets are a boater’s paradise as they cruise along the Sunshine Coast.
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Sechelt Inlet Marine
Sechelt Inlet Marine Provincial Park
With towering granite cliffs and over 60 waterfalls with the beautiful Chatterbox Falls at the head of the inlet, Princess Louisa Inlet is described as most beautiful anchorage in the world.

Buccaneer Bay Provincial Park boasts beautiful broad sandy beaches and warm waters; the large sheltered bay provides safe anchorage. Other popular boating, swimming, snorkeling and fishing destinations are Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park and Hardy Island. Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park has scenic waterfalls, the Freil Lake Falls, which tumble down into the Hothman Sound from Freil Lake.

An ideal kayaking destination is the Sechelt Inlets. Steep, forested hills surround the inlets, with many small creeks cascading down hillsides.

Johnstone Strait

Wedged between the Coast Mountains and Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait encompasses over 200 islands of the Broughton Archipelago. Johnstone Strait is home to an abundant array of marine life due to the cold ocean currents. It is common to see humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, and marine birds.
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Broughton Archipelago
Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park
Broughton Archipelago Park, B.C.’s largest marine park, consists of a wonderful collection of dozens of undeveloped islands and islets situated at the mouth of Knight Inlet on the west side of Queen Charlotte Strait near the north end of Vancouver Island.

When the seas are calm, kayakers enjoy exploring the outer islets in the archipelago. Boaters and kayakers can also find sheltered anchorages and scenic coves deeper into the larger islands of the archipelago.

Gulf Islands

As one of the most visited regions of the British Columbia coast, the Gulf Islands consist of 200 large to small islands.  A reason for their popularity is the close proximity to the major population centers of Vancouver and Victoria. Kayakers, sailors and boaters enjoy the sheltered waters, strong tides and dramatic coastlines that the Gulf Islands have to offer.
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Discovery Island
Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park
White shell beaches, open meadows, tidal lagoons, towering forests, craggy headlands and abundant bird life are just a few of the things that attract visitors to this park in the southern Gulf Islands. With four main anchorage sites in Pirates Cove, Montague Harbour, Newcastle Island, Wallace Island, makes the Gulf Islands a boaters destination of choice.

At Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park on Galiano Island the new Shell Beach staircase is now in place. Visitors are now able have a more accessible route down to the white shell beach on the north side of the park.

Lower Mainland - Howe Sound

Steep sloped mountains, rugged coastlines, and scattered islands meet the metropolitan city of Vancouver. This is the quintessential description of Howe Sound. With broad sandy beaches and warm waters, visitors are treated to a breathtaking visual experience.
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Smugglers Cove
Smugglers Cove Provincial Park
Boaters delight in the sheltered bays, docks and bouys for anchorage; Halkett Bay Provincial Park in Howe Sound provides a bouy, dinghy dock. Jedediah Island, located west of Lasqueti Island is one of the largest island parks in the province and offers five secluded bays for safe harbour. The Sechelt Inlets are also a popular boating destination offering three protected inlets: Sechelt, Narrows and Salmon.

In Porteau Cove divers and snorkelers can explore a sunken ship with a plethora of marine life, boats can dock on the two paved double-wide boat launches.

Waterfalls can be found in Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park (Indian Arm) and in Princess Louisa Provincial Park. A large viewing platform is located at the bottom of Chatterbox Falls where you can take in the numerous waterfalls that ribbon the walls of the gorge as snow melts as well as the spectacular Chatterbox Falls.

Central Coast

When you see the mountains meet the sea, cascading waterfalls, and fjords snake into the open ocean you know you have arrived in the Central Coast.
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Fiordland Conservancy
Wildlife is plentiful in the Central Coast, as you cruise along the coastline you are likely to see bald eagles, Sitka deer, grizzlies, black bears and the rare white Spirit Bear. Enjoy watching the marine mammals, the humpback whales, orcas, and seals and experience the sounds and sights of the great untamed wilderness.

The largest marine protected area in British Columbia, Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservency, is located in the Central Coast. With exposed shorelines, spectacular lagoons, forested hills, a beguiling array of large and small islands, white-sand beaches, and all-weather anchorages, Hakai has a varied and scenic coastline.

In the Fiordland Conservancy experience the finest example of glacially gouged fjords on the British Columbia coast, where sheer granite cliffs rise more than 1000 metres and stop to view the waterfalls in the Kynoch Inlet and Mussel Inlet.

North Coast

The near silence of the rainforest, rugged shorelines, and sheltered inlets make up the North Coast of British Columbia. As boaters navigate the North Coast, include the Codville Lagoon as a marine mammal destination; watch for orcas, humpback whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions and more.
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Codville Lagoon Marine Provincial Park
Codville Lagoon Marine Provincial Park
Experience the world’s largest intact coastal temperate rainforest that include old-growth trees over 800 years old in Huchsduwachsdu Nuyem Jees (Kitlope Heritage Conservancy). Enjoy Bishop Bay, Weewanie or Shearwater Hot Springs, and view waterfalls, tall granite cliffs, and hanging glaciers along Gardner Canal.

Lowe Inlet is the most attractive and most regular stop on the Inside Passage due to the wondrous site of the Verney waterfalls and migrating salmon viewing.

In Oliver Cove, boaters have access to all-weather anchorage and sheltered inside route provides protection for small boats.

West Coast

Rolling swells, abundance of marine wildlife, vast open ocean and a scattering of fishing villages and settlements describe the West Coast of Vancouver Island. It is recommended that boaters who navigate these waters are experienced, as the weather can quickly change.
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Rugged Point
Rugged Point Marine Provincial Park
Boaters and kayakers enjoy the tranquility of Nootka Sound. Beautiful Bligh Island offers rustic beach camping and is popular destination for anglers, boaters and kayakers who paddle amongst the many scenic islands in the Spanish Pilot Group.

The waters around Mquqᵂin / Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park offer world-class kayaking and canoeing. Opportunities for relatively sheltered paddling exist from Columbia Cove east to Nasparti and Ououkinsh Inlets and Johnson Lagoon.

Cape Scott Provincial Park offers day hiking, multiday backpacking, and canoeing or kayaking along the rugged coastline and expansive sandy beaches. There is a popular BC Parks car top boat launch on the San Josef River for visitors wanting to navigate the inlets and estuaries that are only accessible by boat adjacent to San Josef Bay on the outer coast. Cape Scott is also fortunate to have some excellent examples of old-growth forest, including Sitka Spruce in excess of 3 metres in diameter, and Western Red Cedar of similar sizes. The North Coast Trail, a 43km extension of the original Cape Scott Trail, is an exciting adventure for more experienced hikers. The most popular direction to hike the trail is east to west, starting in Shushartie Bay. This trailhead is accessible by water taxi.

Hohoae Island, in Dixie Cove Marine Provincial Park, provides the best all-weather anchorage in Kyuquot Sound and a scenic stopover where boats can anchor and enjoy spectacular views of surrounding mountains.

One of the most popular destinations in Clayoquot Sound is Flores Island. Visitors can enjoy beach camping, fishing, whale watching, kayaking and hiking the 10 kilometre “Walk the Wild Side Trail.”

Visitors to Clayoquot Sound also flock to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park to soak in the natural hot mineral spring pools. These geothermal hot springs cascade down a waterfall into half a dozen rocky pools. The delightful hot pools flow from one level to the next, gradually becoming cooler as the fresh spring water is cooled by ocean swells. A pleasant half-hour along a boardwalk trail through old-growth rainforest leads to the hot pools, which remain at an average temperature of approximately 50 degrees Celsius. This park has a dock located on the west side of Openit Peninsula, adjacent to the park entrance. Boats can also anchor in Hotsprings Cove.