Cabana Desolation Eco Resort offers much in the way of luxuries. The off-grid eco resort blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings of its forested island home, yet guests can still enjoy many amenities that may not always be expected in such a remote and untouched environment. Hot showers, flush toilets, and comfortable accommodations are all far removed from our typical camping tours. 


While both options to experience Desolation Sound are unique and inspiring, the comforts of Cabana Desolation are often enough to entice those guests that feel their camping days are behind them to visit and experience the beauty of Desolation Sound.


As an added bonus, we don’t need to carry everything with us in the hatches of our kayaks! Our camping tours are completely self-sufficient, meaning the accommodation (tents and sleeping pads), kitchen (Coleman stoves and pots & pans), food (enough for up to 12 people for a 4 or 5 days) and more need to come with us. 


At Cabana Desolation, the accommodations, kitchen and food (as well as a professional cook) are provided on site, meaning there is a lot more room in the kayaks for additional luxuries often required to be left behind on a camping tour.


Below we have compiled a list of our 4 favourite things that guests often bring to Cabana that would usually not make the cut!  


1/ Expensive Bottled Wine (Or Bottles of Your Favourite Craft Beer)

Some feel - and we’re often included in this - that there’s little better in life than enjoying a nice cold beer or glass of wine, sitting up on a bluff in Desolation Sound after a great day of paddling. On our camping tours, we certainly encourage - in moderation - our guests to bring along some beverages if they are so inclined for this very reason.


In practice, this often means boxed wine (with the box removed) and cans of beer that can be easily fitted into small nooks and crevices in the kayak hatches. However, without all that extra stuff, Cabana guests are often pleasantly surprised to find that entire bottles of their favourite wine or craft beer can easily fit inside.


Then there’s the issue of refrigeration. We’re a resourceful bunch at PRSK, but in-field refrigeration usually requires bottles and cans chilling in the ocean a while before consumption. This is less successful when: a) the ocean water in Desolation Sound can reach summer temperatures of over 20 degrees Celsius, and b) a rising tide runs the risks of forgotten beverages simply up and floating away!


With a commercial kitchen - including a propane refrigerator - at Cabana Desolation, such concerns are eliminated. Simply hand your bottles over on arrival and we’ll ensure that your favourite drink is nice and chilled for you at the end of each day.


2/ A Fresh Set of Clothes for Each Day

On our camping tours, each guest is provided with a 20L tapered dry bag for their clothing, which usually means each guest has enough room to bring along a set of paddling clothes, and perhaps two sets of camp clothes, plus enough socks and underwear to tide them over until they return. In a camping scenario, this is more than adequate - everyone expects to get back to nature a little and as long as everyone is dry and well fed, we’re all content.


At Cabana Desolation, the addition of hot showers and extra hatch storage allows us to be a little more flexible. A couple of different paddling outfits are often used, while dressing up a little for the evenings if you so desire is a common occurrence, though certainly not required!


3/ A Second Book 

Another item related to extra hatch space! Many guests on all our tours will bring along a book to read during the evenings or lazy afternoons. For some people, it is the first time they have had the opportunity in many months or even years to relax enough to pick up a good book! 


At Cabana Desolation, guests have far more opportunity to create a vacation that suits their own needs. Don’t want to paddle today? No problem! Stay back and read a chapter or two on the point, go for a little hike, or sleep in a little and wake to the sound of birdsong and the gently lapping ocean. 


Bringing along a second or even third book would probably be a little overkill on our far busier camping tours, even for a true bibliophile. But at Cabana the atmosphere and environment lends itself to more relaxation if desired, so don’t leave that extra book at home!


4/ Hiking Boots

Some of our camping guests will bring hiking boots on a tour, but the added bulk of such footwear can make packing difficult, and in practice most guests find that more lightweight camp shoes are far more comfortable and practical. The hiking we may take part in on a camping tour is usually restricted to well used and marked trails, and the added support of hiking boots are excessive for our needs.


At Cabana Desolation however, some of our guests decide to take a day off kayaking during their stay and elect to explore our island home instead.


Kinghorn Island is uninhabited - with the exception of our resort - and there are no real marked trails amongst its somewhat rugged but fascinating interior, allowing the island to maintain its natural state as much as possible. That said - with the right footwear - hiking around Kinghorn is immensely enjoyable - from bluffs atop towering cliffs with expansive westerly views to huge ancient cedars and firs hidden among the forest. Packing along some dedicated hiking boots is often greatly appreciated by our more active guests!


[This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Trip Review Series written by Powell River Sea Kayak guide Luke Raftl]

 

On the August long weekend last year, seven intrepid guests and two guide’s from Powell River Sea Kayak took the opportunity that the fantastic weather presented us and paddled beyond Desolation Sound. 


Over the course of a week we paddled in awe of immense mountains, beneath plunging waterfalls, and in the presence of majestic humpbacks. Our campsites were remote and beautiful, far off the beaten trail and laid out under a sheet of stars. 


If you are interested in how an expedition-style tour with Powell River Sea Kayak plays out: from how much paddling occurs to the places you may visit to the things you can see, please read on!


Day One

The morning was grey, but the clouds were beginning to part as we launched from our home base in calm and protected Okeover Inlet on the first morning of our adventure. 


The long-term weather report leading up to the trip was decidedly winter-like for the BC coast … but about 36 hours before guests arrived there was a sudden change, and the rain and wind forecast was instantly replaced with sun and warmth. In reality the seven days that we paddled into the mountains and back again saw probably the most perfect weather of the entire summer!


Our group consisted of 3 siblings and 2 spouses from Toronto, Ontario, as well as 2 friends from the west coast of BC that had completed one previous kayaking tour on Vancouver Island many years prior. Kyle and I - guides for this exciting expedition-style trip into the waterways of Pryce Channel and Toba Inlet north of Desolation Sound, rounded out the party.


We launched in the late afternoon and paddled with a slight tail wind north towards the mouth of Malaspina Inlet and the entrance to Desolation Sound. Passing our usual lunch spot in good time, we continued on and entered the Sound on the western side of the inlet and stopped for lunch after 2.5 hours of paddling at Feather Cove at the tip of Malaspina Peninsula.


After lunch we made two crossings, first to Kinghorn Island (the site of Cabana Desolation Eco Resort and beyond that a campsite that we often stay on the first evening of a tour), and then once more crossed to the Martin Islands in the northern part of Desolation Sound, a total of 9.5 nautical miles.


Desolation Sound is a key part of this tour - and we spent two nights here, the first and the last - but we were all looking north at what was to come in the coming days. After a wild salmon and risotto dinner everyone was slightly sore but very content as they went to bed just after the sun set over Cortes Island.

 

 

 

 

Day Two

We woke to the clear skies that came to dominate the rest of our adventure. A breakfast of scrambled eggs, sourdough toast and vegetable hash fuelled us up for the day ahead - the longest planned for the whole trip, from the Martin Islands north through Lewis Channel, beyond Teakerne Arm and Redonda Bay to a private tenured campsite just south of Connis Point at the tip of West Redonda Island.


The wind was light but variable as we paddled past Refuge Cove and attempted to settle into a rhythm for the day. Perhaps the muscles were a little stiff - and maybe the current was not in our favour - but the first leg of the day required everyone to dig a little deeper than yesterday as we approached the mouth of Teakerne Arm. Kyle and I traded places throughout the morning to check in on everyone and see how they were feeling. We continued to hone in on our guest’s strokes, striving to help them achieve greater efficiency that would come in incredibly helpful over the rest of the tour. After a brief discussion, we decided to stop for lunch a little earlier than originally intended to give everyone a nice break and rest before the afternoon push to camp.


After a quick switch of kayaks to give those of us feeling a little weary a chance to paddle together in a double, we launched again and headed north beyond Teakerne Arm. Conditions now were perfect - a slight tail wind and an ebb current that pulled us northwards. 


Any time lost in the morning was quickly regained, yet as this was the day of our longest paddle, we still had a ways to go! As we reached Redonda Bay and the north-west tip of West Redonda Island, the mountains we had been searching for started to impose themselves on the scenery, and we stopped for a quick break one last time before our last push to camp directly opposite the impressive mass of Raza Island and the beginnings of the Coast Mountains to our north.


Not too many people camp this far north of Desolation Sound, and Kyle and I immediately set about creating a makeshift kitchen from whatever scanty pieces of driftwood we could find while our guests set themselves up with their tents and poured themselves a well-earned glass of wine.


Dinner tonight was Thai chicken and tofu lettuce wraps with hot coconut fried bananas for dessert - not bad fare for the remote environment! And to top it off, just as we sat on the cliff at the edge of camp to enjoy our meal, a humpback whale surfaced directly in front of our vantage point - less than 100 feet from our camp - and took 3 or 4 breaths in succession before diving deep into the channel on its way south. The perfect end to a long but incredibly rewarding day!

 

 

 

Day Three

The sun was peering over the rugged spine of West Redonda Island early on Day 3, illuminating the forest on Raza Island to the west and bathing the mountains to the north in brilliant light. We were all up early, devouring another delicious breakfast - butternut squash & leek pancakes today - before we hit the water as a group just as the sunlight reached over the towering trees behind our campsite and landed on our departing kayaks.


The water north of the Redonda Islands takes on a greenish hue, which shifts into tones of turquoise and blue as you turn to the east and paddle closer to the mouth of Toba Inlet. This is due to the glacial runoff that enters the sea from two rivers right at the head of Toba, and it conjures a feeling of more tropical environments than the temperate rainforests of the Pacific North West.


In fact, the entire terrain north of West Redonda Island feels more like the Hawaiian Islands or the coast of Thailand than anywhere else on the west coast. The lush green rainforest on both sides of Pryce Channel, where we were now paddling, drop precipitously straight into the greens and blues of the ocean, and water cascades down narrow ravines carved into the rugged island and mainland landscapes from lakes far above.


Ahead of us, to the east, we could see the first of the snow capped peaks that frame magnificent Toba Inlet, our destination for the day. With every stroke we approached closer, and once again a slight wind appeared at our back - this one caused by the inflow of cooler, ocean air rushing in to replace the warmer air above the sun-drenched mountains - which pushed us ever nearer still.


We crossed Pryce Channel after half an hour or so and were now paddling along the mainland coast. Perhaps one or two sailboats were spotted all morning, far in the distance, and it felt as though we were alone in this remote and awe-inspiring environment.


We rounded a point in the mainland and came upon a simply perfect beach of crushed rock and sand right at the mouth of Toba Inlet for lunch. From here the great, steep fjord twisted and turned its path right into the icy peaks of the Coast Mountains, which we could appreciate from our comfortable position in the sunshine thousands of feet below. 


Our guests all went swimming in the blue ocean to cool down as Kyle and I prepared the lunch.  Two and a half days of kayaking had turned everyone into efficient paddling machines, and while we were grateful for our idyllic lunch spot, everyone was just as eager to get back on the water and travel deeper into the mountains.


Our afternoon paddle along the north-western shore of Toba was in perfect, calm conditions and almost complete seclusion (with the exception of one solo kayaker that approached us from the south-east to ask for some campsite information, and then paddled alone back in the direction from which we came!) 


Our campsite in Toba Inlet is another private tenure that we maintain for the exclusive use of our tour groups, and the perfect place to base ourselves for further exploration of this remote and impressive destination deep amongst the BC Coast Mountain range.


Our plan was to do just this - spend two nights at our comfortable base and paddle deeper into the inlet on Day 4, before resume our loop of the Redonda Islands and returning to Desolation Sound in the days to follow.


Our camp was another perfect beach of crushed rock and sand that received most of the day’s sun, with multiple tent spots hidden just beyond the trees in the cool shade of the forest behind us. Kyle and I set up our kitchen away from the tents - this is bear country after all - and set about creating another rich and fulfilling meal of Pasta with Pesto, Artichokes, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Black Olives, before the sun set over the mountains that now lay to our west and we all climbed into our tents in anticipation of exploring Toba Inlet in the morning.


To be continued…

 


The 2018 season is in the books, and it was a truly busy and successful season as well.

This summer we had near capacity on our multi-day camping tours, Cabana Desolation Eco Resort ran full-time from late May to mid September, and countless day tours and kayak rentals headed into Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and the northern Strait of Georgia. We want to thank everyone involved for our most successful year yet!

Our classic vacation-style camping tours into Desolation Sound were highlighted by incredible summer weather, great wildlife sightings and perfect days kayaking, swimming, snokeling and relaxing in Desolation Sound. Late summer especially saw the return this year of both transient orca and humpback whale sightings in both Desolation and the Strait of Georgia, while the bioluminescent plankton this summer was a particular highlight on the majority of our tours, with guests swimming and playing in the magical glow of the water right through from May to September!

Our vacation-style tours are enjoyed by all manner of guests - from family groups to honeymoon couples to solo travelers looking for a relaxing yet active Desolation Sound adventure. They're the perfect introduction to Desolation and the BC coast, and it was a joy to watch the many diverse groups come together and make lasting friendships with other guests from Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and beyond!

One of the best memories of our season was the return to Toba Inlet and the Coast Mountains of BC with a 7-day expedition-style tour around that circumnavigated the Redonda Islands north of Desolation Sound. Incredible weather, immense mountain scenery and some spine-tingling whale sightings capped off a truly memorable week of adventure. The success of this year's trip and the huge potential for more expeditions into these mountains has us planning further adventures in this incredible part of the coast in 2019! (Check out the pictures below and read on for more information).

 

 

Finally, the fifth anniversary year at Cabana Desolation Eco Resort saw us reach capacity for the majority of our packages during the peak season, though with a true capacity of only 10-12 guests at a time, this took nothing away from our guests intimate experience of the resort and Desolation Sound! Our cooks Dan and Curtis continued to 'wow' with their fresh, creative cuisine, while our guests kayaked, snorkeled, hiked and paddle boarded and relaxed in this truly special place in Desolation Sound. 

However the work never stops out here in Desolation, and with enquiries for next summer already filling our inbox, we are excited to announce our multi-day camping dates for 2019 are now live!

As alluded to above, there are a number of new and exciting plans in the works for 2019. Some of these highlights include:

  • Our first scheduled camping tour over the May long weekend.

This annual trip usually kicks off our multi-day camping schedule each year, and we're excited to offer a 5-day trip in 2019 that features all the best things about early season paddling: less crowds, great wildlife, and some tasty off-peak discounts!

  • Three 7-day mountains expeditions scheduled over the long weekends in July, August and September.

With the success of our 7-day mountains expedition in 2018 (and the excitement of our guides to go along with it) we are happy to offer three more 7-day expedition-style tours in 2019 that will visit the mystical channels and inlets north of Desolation Sound, including the turquoise blue waters of majestic Toba Inlet! These tours are deliberately scheduled over long weekends to give guests more of an opportunity to take the time needed off work or from other pressing commitments and paddle with us for a week of awe-inspiring adventure.

  • The introduction of specific 5-day expedition-style tours throughout the season.

In addition to the aforementioned 7-day expeditions, we are also offering a number of 5-day expedition-style tours that will aim to explore much of the same area as our 7-day tours, but with a slightly abridged schedule. These tours will aim to move camp every day and give an option for more adventurous touring guests to paddle slightly longer distances and explore this incredible area in more depth than on our regular vacation-style tours. These tours are limited, and after April 1st 2019 will transfer into a regular 5-day vacation-style tour if we don't have the required numbers, so make sure to book early!

Every year our peak season bookings reach capacity earlier than the last, so be sure to read up on our full offerings and book your 2019 Desolation Sound adventure before someone else does today!

Be sure also to check out the savings made with our off-peak and groups rates. Many of our tours this year consisted of past years' guests that came back and brought friends and family, which was awesome to see!

2019 Multi-Day Camping Dates

May

  • May 16-20 - Expedition 
  • May 16-19 - Vacation
  • May 24-28 - Vacation

June

  • June 4-8 - Vacation
  • June 11-15 - Expedition
  • June 16-20 - Vacation
  • June 23-26 - Vacation
  • June 27-July 3 - 7 day Expedition

July

  • July 5-8 - Vacation
  • July 9-13 - Vacation
  • July 16-20 - Vacation or Expedition (whichever books first)
  • July 18-21 - Vacation
  • July 23-27 - Vacation
  • July 28-31 - Vacation

August

  • August 1-7 - 7 day Expedition
  • August 9-13 - Vacation
  • August 15-19 - Vacation or Expedition (whichever books first)
  • August 17-20 - Vacation
  • August 23-27 - Vacation
  • August 29-September 4 - 7 day Expedition

September

  • September 9-12 - Vacation​

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Early season campfire in Desolation Sound

To celebrate the approaching 2018 season in Desolation Sound, we’re offering a killer travel deal for group leaders that organize a group for a guided Desolation Sound camping trip with Powell River Sea Kayak this summer.


With this promotion, trip leaders that can organize a group of 6 or more will receive a full 50% off their tour price as a ‘finder’s discount’!


Imagine waking in your tent to the sounds nature and the smell of freshly brewed coffee, kayaking through warm ocean waters with knowledgable and professional guides, and sitting down to gourmet ‘camping’ meals on uninhabited islands in the heart of Desolation Sound.


Now imagine all that with 5 or more of your closest friends and family members, and imagine all that at half the regular price, as a reward for bringing your loved ones together to enjoy themselves in this stunning, intimate setting!


Whether you split the discount amongst the group or take it all for yourself, this is a great opportunity to experience Desolation Sound with your friends and family.


Dates are limited for this opportunity, with most of the dates during our season already filling up fast. As of the time of publishing, the dates available for this promotion are listed at the end of the article.


Off-Peak rates apply for this promotion, adding further value to the sweet finder’s discount!


For your convenience, guests can book individually or as a group or multiple groups, as long as everyone knows each other or knows of each other prior to booking.


If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact us directly via email at info@bcseakayak.com or phone at 604-483-2160 and we will work with you to book your Desolation Sound experience!


Dates available for promotion (as of 9th April, 2018):

  • May 18-21
  • May 26-29
  • June 5-9
  • June 19-23

Costa Del Sol Latin Cuisine on Marine Drive

At Powell River Sea Kayak and Cabana Desolation Eco Resort, we like to consider ourselves foodies - and this is evident by the attention we give to all our meals, whether they are served from the kitchen at Cabana Desolation Eco Resort or from a Coleman stove at one of our campsites.


We know as well that many of our guests are attracted to our tours and resort packages in part because of this attention to the fresh, creative, and delicious meals that we serve. 


Therefore, continuing on this theme, we decided to look at our Top 3 restaurants for foodie guests to check out in Powell River either before you leave on tour with us, or after you return from your Desolation Sound experience.


1/ Coastal Cookery - www.coastalcookery.com

Located on Marine Drive, Coastal Cookery serves creative, comfortable meals with a west coast flair using local ingredients in a warm and inviting atmosphere. 


Billed as a place for friends to eat, drink and gather, The Cookery is a local favourite in Powell River at all times of year, and visitors to town during the summer are attracted to its relaxed ambiance, friendly staff, and the great view of the sun setting over the Strait of Georgia from the back deck.


Coastal Cookery also has probably the best drink selection in town, with tasty local interpretations of favourite cocktails, and a constantly rotating selection of craft beer from some of the best microbreweries in British Columbia.


Personal menu favourites include the ‘Salt Spring Mussels’, the tender ‘Beer Can Chicken’ and a trio of ‘Short Rib Sliders’.


2/ Little Hut Curry 

Another mainstay on the Marine Drive scene, Little Hut Curry serves gourmet Northern Indian Cuisine from a cute little house in the centre of town.


The service and attention to detail of hosts Janet and Mohinder are second to none, with a passion for great Indian flavours as well as for customer service and the Powell River area. This includes an appreciation for local artists, many of whom have their amazing artwork displayed proudly inside.

 


3/ Costa Del Sol - www.costadelsollatincuisine.com

Costa Del Sol is another funky house on Marine Drive in Powell River that serves Mexican and Latin inspired dishes using local “socially responsible ingredients”.


The restaurant is small, set in an rebuilt 1900’s police station that has been renovated to contain classic Mexican masonry, talavera tile work and latin inspired murals which create a unique and bright atmosphere. 


While it can be popular in the summer months, if you can snag a spot outside on the patio you will be in the perfect position to watch the world pass by on Marine Avenue … and the sun set spectacularly over the Strait of Georgia!

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The days are getting longer, and we’re busy working at Powell River Sea Kayak and Cabana Desolation Eco Resort to be ready for the new season, and to improve upon our incredibly successful year in 2017!


1/ Cabana Building Continues

Now that the temperatures are rising, the work continues on Kinghorn Island to get our fifth and final cabana ready for guests in 2018.


This new cabana is our solo occupancy cabana - one cabana with two single occupancy rooms for those guests travelling alone, on oddly numbered groups, or with friends and wish to have their own private space while staying with us in Desolation Sound.



Each ‘half’ of the new cabana is equipped with an interior shower and sink, comfortable double bed, and the same amazing view of the rainforest and the ocean through the screened windows facing right out into Desolation Sound.


Further to this work, it was decided that with another cabana it was required to build another bathroom, and so the third flushing eco-toilet structure has taken shape, ensuring that all our guests have easy and convenient access to amenities throughout their stay.



2/ Discovering New Lakes and Trails

Even after close to 25 years operating in Desolation Sound, we’re still searching for ways to improve our offering at Cabana Desolation Eco Resort and on our camping tours, day tours, and for our kayak rentals. Amazingly, even after all these years, we keep discovering new and exciting features of this wonderful area to share with our guests!


Two new lakes - both with varying ease of access from Desolation Sound, were discovered by staff and owners of Powell River Sea Kayak over the Spring Break period.


The first, with the easiest access and within a comfortable paddle from Cabana Desolation, was Hindle Lake, just off the Sunshine Coast Trail about 45 minutes hike south from Feather Cove. Clean, clear and the perfect spot for a picnic lunch on a warm summer’s day, this lake is sure to excite those guests that are looking to experience a freshwater swim on a Cabana Desolation package - something that was always a little elusive for most guests from our base on Kinghorn Island. Well, no more!



The second, a more adventurous day trip from Kinghorn or the Martin Islands is an old trail discovered leading from a pocket beach on West Redonda Island that links up with the back side of Refuge Lagoon. Access to the lagoon from Refuge Cove is no longer possible, but with a little hard work and determination, reaching the lake from Desolation Sound itself - after about an hour’s hike - can lead to one of the best lake-side lunch spots in the area!



 

3/ Early Spring Paddling

The upswing in the weather over the Spring Break period also affected our guides, dragging some of them out and into Desolation Sound for a quick four day trip of relaxation and exploration (it was on this trip that the back door to Refuge Lagoon was found!)


In addition to enjoying the weather, the mountain views and the wildlife, they were able to hone their skills in preparation for some upcoming Assistant Overnight and Level 2 exams being challenged later this month!

 

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If you’re looking to rent kayaks and equipment this summer for your Desolation Sound adventure, it is important that you and every member of your group is familiar with - at the very least - introductory level safety requirements.


This includes self- and assisted-rescues, launching and landing techniques, and basic navigational awareness such as reading charts, understanding tides and current tables, and having access to reliable marine weather reports at every stage of your journey. 


Even in the relatively protected waters of Desolation Sound, dangerous paddling conditions can come up suddenly and without warning, putting yourself, your friends and your family at sudden risk of capsize. 


The following videos have been created by Powell River Sea Kayak staff to help illustrate important rescue techniques and considerations. Please note that watching these videos is merely designed to be a theoretical exercise, and a formal lesson in capsize/re-entry is highly recommended for all rental guests.

 

 

 

 

 


There are many opportunities for sea kayak lessons in most urban centres in British Columbia, Alberta and Washington State. It may also be possible to book a lesson with Powell River Sea Kayak before you set off, depending on guide and instructor availability. Please visit our lessons page for information.

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In 2013 the sea star population along the entire Pacific Coast from Southern California to Alaska collapsed. 


Species from the ubiquitous purple ochre star to the 24-armed predatory sunflower star and many in between quite literally disintegrated from the inside out. The mysterious epidemic has since been called ‘Sea Star Wasting Syndrome’ by biologists frantically trying to understand the disease, its causes, and its potential long-term consequences for these keystone species of the intertidal zone.


In certain areas, especially from Washington State south to California, sea stars vanished almost entirely from the ecosystem.


In British Columbia, and Desolation Sound specifically, we saw a huge decline in numbers of sea stars as well, though perhaps not to the same degree. 


The numbers of pink and purple ochre stars that were often found in huge numbers clinging to the rocks and cliffs of the intertidal fell drastically, but never completely disappeared from the landscape. 


Leather stars and vermillion stars - both of which were similarly decimated south of the border - continued to be present in Desolation Sound, and the leather stars even appeared to have usurped the purple stars as the most abundant echinoderm in some areas.


However, the sunflower star - the largest sea star in the world and one that preys mercilessly on other sea stars - as well as sea cucumbers and various nudibranchs - almost disappeared completely. In the three years from 2014-2016 not one sunflower star was reported by our guides in the Desolation Sound area.


After much debate, researchers now believe that unusually warm sea temperatures off the west coast made the sea stars particularly vulnerable to a virus that has been affecting the invertebrates in much lesser numbers for decades. The result, mass die off.


Five years on, how are things looking now?


Anecdotally, sea star numbers in Desolation Sound seem to be on the rise.


Clumps of ochre stars look to be expanding, and the number of visibly diseased and dying purple stars are much reduced. At the height of the epidemic whole swathes of the species could be seen disintegrating at a time, today you are far more likely to see colonies of healthy, strong ochres clinging valiantly to the rocky coast.


Research is also concluding that the worst of the die-off may have passed.


While numbers are not anywhere near their height of pre-2013, in most areas up and down the west coast populations are rebounding slowly.


This is incredibly important not just for the species itself, but for the entire intertidal ecosystem. Ochre stars are known as a ‘keystone species’, one which has a disproportionate effect on other organisms within the system. In areas that the ochre star has vanished completely, blue mussels - the ochre stars main food source - have taken over all the available real estate and crowded out most other species in the mid-intertidal. When ochre stars are present, they can keep the mussels at bay, and other species - from snails to limpets to habitat providing algae - can thrive.


There have even been sightings on our Desolation Sound Tours of juvenile sunflower stars, which goes to show the incredible resilience of a natural species, even in the face of catastrophic hardships.


We look forward to seeing more and more of all species of sea stars in a balanced marine ecosystem in years to come!

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While Powell River is fast gaining a reputation as being an outdoor adventure seeker’s paradise, there are other sides to the town’s renaissance in recent years that all visitors to this beautiful region should embrace and discover. In this edition we look at the arts and festivals on the northern Sunshine Coast that come alive during the summer.


Arts

Powell River is home to a large community of musicians and artisans - which should not be all that surprising when you consider the laid back vibe and natural beauty that surrounds the area year round.


Take a stroll up the shopping district of Marine Avenue before or after a meal at one of the town’s fine restaurants and hop into one of many of the area’s galleries, boutique clothing shops and used book stores.


Stores to look for include Artique - an artist’s cooperative that showcases the artwork of dozens of local artists - and Thick, a local clothing store with a huge reputation that stocks items bearing the artwork of a local screen-printer that showcases the Powell River area’s best natural assets and adventures.


The cafes of Basecamp, 32 Lakes and River City Coffee are also great places to view the work of Powell River artists while you sit an enjoy a fresh cup of locally roasted coffee!


Festivals

Summer time on the Sunshine Coast is a time to celebrate - so it is no surprise that the cultural and music festivals in the Powell River area are incredibly numerous and popular!


  • The Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) is held every June in Powell River, designed to prepare young musicians from all over the world for a career in music performance. Young and talented musicians are billeted in Powell River over 2 weeks and perform a number of concerts and performances for the public, culminating on opening night with the ‘Celebration of the Senses’ at Willingdon Beach.
  • International Choral Kathaumixw is a biannual event in which 1200 international singers, conductors and choir members descend on Powell River for a five day choral festival. Concerts, vocal competitions , conductor’s seminars and social events take place all over town.
  • The Blackberry Street Festival celebrates the ubiquitous and delectable blackberry, which grows wild and in abundance in Powell River during the summer months. This all culminates with a street party on the Friday night in which all kinds of blackberry themed foods, desserts and drinks are available.
  • The Sunshine Music Festival occurs every year on the Labour Day long weekend at Palm Beach, 15 minutes south of Powell River, with a focus on local Canadian musicians in a kid friendly atmosphere. The beach side setting is a beautiful place to enjoy great Canadian music as well as artesian markets, food vendors, and more.
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The many experiences of Cabana Desolation Eco Resort have been written about and covered on our website - kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, or simply ‘Chill & Immerse’ in Desolation Sound away from the cares and worries of city life.


However there are a few ‘outside the box’ adventures that - to the best of our knowledge - have yet to be fully explored by guests out at our island eco resort. 


Therefore, we’ve put our thinking caps on and dreamed up the 3 Best Experiences that Cabana guests could have, but are yet to happen:


1/ Climb Station Island

Station Island lies right off-shore from the Cabana Point, and is a common and popular destination for paddle boards and snorkelers. 


The island rises sharply out of the ocean into a steep dome with a gently rounded top. Eagles are often perched high up in trees on the bluffs looking out over the water. Seals lie in the sun on the shore, perched sometimes inelegantly on the rocky cliffs above the sea.


However, there is at least one clear path that we have determined to the top of the island, and we can only assume that the view upon reaching the summit would be well worth the strenuous summer hike up there!

 


 

2/ Snorkel Beneath the Southern Cliffs

The Cabana Point and the cliffs beneath Station Island are perhaps the two most convenient and popular places for guests to snorkel when staying at Cabana Desolation. Both are located close to the resort and offer easy access for snorkelers to view all manner of intertidal life such as sea stars, sea cucumbers, urchins, chitons and aggregating green anemones.


However, perhaps the best snorkeling found in the entire Desolation Sound area is found beneath the cliffs on the south western shore of Kinghorn Island. At low tides this environment is home to all the above mentioned creatures, as well as huge colonies of giant plumose sea anemones, leather and vermillion sea stars, and even the occasional nudibranch grazing beneath the weeds!


These cliffs can be accessed by kayak in about 15 minutes from Cabana Desolation and with a small amount of forethought and planning present an awesome potential half-day adventure. Pack your snorkel gear in the hatch of your kayak and paddle round to the cliffs, before jumping in and checking out the marine life right up and down the length of the cliff.


Paddle over with a friend and take turns minding the kayaks, or tie your boat to your ankle and take it with you as you explore. Getting back in is the fun part, and an opportunity to practice your self-rescue skills!


For the especially adventurous, taking a paddle board round instead of a kayak could turn the activity into a full-day expedition! Continue on your way after your snorkel by completing a circumnavigation of the island and discover eagle’s nests and curious seals before returning to the resort the long way.

 


3/ Paddle Board Amongst Magical Phosphorescent Plankton

A highlight of our Cabana Desolation packages in recent years has been the magical light-show that occurs in the ocean on the darkest of nights produced by minuscule phosphorescent plankton.


This phenomenon lights up the water when disturbed like stars in the night sky, and often surprises Cabana guests with its abundance and brightness. 


The bravest souls take the opportunity to don a wetsuit and swim amongst the lights, yet a fantastic way to experience this wonderful event without the need for submersion in the middle of the night is to grab a paddle board and hit the water!


Every stroke of the paddle emits a sharp burst of light, while a trail of stars are left in your wake. If you’re lucky, a seal may swim beneath you, its body illuminated in the depths below!