Destinations | Desolation Sound
Specializing in Desolation Sound, Powell River Sea Kayak provides a true west coast British Columbia vacation experience, offering kayak tours, kayak rentals and inspiring resort accommodation.
Desolation Sound is located a mere five hour scenic drive from Vancouver, at the end of the road on the northern Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Framed by the peaks of the towering Coast Mountains and the untouched temperate rainforest, the unusually warm and sheltered waters of Desolation Sound offer a relaxing yet engaging experience on the famed west coast of BC. Long summer days, idyllic islands, endless shores and diverse wildlife help make Desolation Sound a world class destination to explore by sea kayak - or to simply relax and immerse yourself in the best of coastal British Columbia. Rent a kayak and discover this incredible landscape for yourself or join a professionally guided kayak tour and let Powell River Sea Kayak take care of all the fine details. For the ultimate in comfort, relaxation and inspiration, consider an all-inclusive experience at Cabana Desolation Eco Resort. Join us in Desolation!
Warm Waters and Wildlife
The warm waters of Desolation Sound – sheltered from the open Pacific Ocean – are a unique feature along the traditionally cool and wild British Columbia west coast. Long summer days warm the rocky shores and sheltered beaches at low tide. Desolation Sound’s fortuitous position at the confluence of tides flooding around both the north and south ends of Vancouver Island also aid in this warming affect. Without the exchange of colder Pacific water off the west coast of Vancouver Island, Desolation Sound consistently reaches temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) – creating tropical-like swimming and snorkelling conditions!
Crystal clear waters, glimmering like a mirror in the hot sun, entice you at every moment. Pulling your kayak onto a long flat beach or secluded cove, you have the perfect opportunity to dive right in. Not that you need one. Better yet, for a true up-and-close experience, Snorkel with the Stars! An entire unseen world is waiting to be discovered just below the surface – and the warm, clear waters teem with marine wildlife, making this Desolation Sound experience unique for the west coast of British Columbia.
Sea stars of infinite colours, from pink to purple to yellow to blue, come together in huge colonies within touching distance of the shore. Watch out for the Sunflower Star, a voracious predator with up to 24 arms that feasts on anything and everything in sight, and can move at an incredible 1 metre a minute! Also common in these waters are fierce-looking spiny urchins in red, purple and green, as well as slug-like sea cucumbers, beautiful painted anemones, fragile nudibranchs and schools of fish.
Wilderness also thrives above the ocean’s surface. Deer and black bears roam the thickly wooded forests. Bald eagles patiently watch the water for prey from the highest branches. Seals lie sunbathing on rocks in massive colonies at low-tide, their healthy populations enticing pods of transient orcas (killer whales) who come frequently into this area to feed. Larger whales, such as humpbacks and grey whales, are also drawn to Desolation Sound by the abundance of plankton and other important microscopic animals that live in these rich waters.
Chill & Immerse in Desolation
The waterways of Desolation Sound – from the open crossings to the narrow inlets – help to create some of the most-sheltered and relatively safest kayaking conditions on the British Columbia coast. The protective shadow of Vancouver Island, as well as the deep waters carved by glaciers in ages past, allow the kayaker to explore the area in their own time and pace, without pounding surf or swift ocean currents to take the novice paddler out of their comfort zone, or out of any blissful moments they may find themselves.
The protected inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park are perfectly suited for comfortable exploration of this rugged coast. The face of the shoreline, shifting at every turn, continually offers new and unique perspectives with the rise and fall of the tide. The water in these inlets is so calm, clear and nutrient rich that a kayaker drifting close to shore is constantly struck by the incredible diversity of marine life that exists in this natural aquarium.
Uninhabited islands and tranquil coves and bays are scattered throughout Desolation Sound. Countless nooks, bluffs, ledges and pocket beaches present the perfect stage, after a morning of exploration, for a comfy camp chair and a good book. Of course, when in the presence of immense snow-capped peaks, dynamic wildlife and rain-forested shores, just ‘being’ in this environment is often enough.
Early risers can perch on a granite ledge with a fresh cup of coffee, the sound of the ocean gently lapping the shore, and watch in serene contemplation as the sun rises over the distant peaks of the Coastal Mountains. Set up a base on one of the many comfortable island camps with panoramic views, or hop between them one by one to experience each new break of day from a different and unique perspective. And in the evening, comfortably seated by the campfire, watch the sun set behind the Discovery Islands and the blue-tinged peaks of Vancouver Island beyond.
Nowhere else in British Columbia can you find yourself swimming in the near-tropical waters of an uninhabited sandy beach in the morning, exploring the rocky pools and shorelines of your own personal island in the afternoon, before settling down to a meal of freshly caught seafood under the stars at night. Yet just a short paddle separates stunning Savary Island – the ‘Hawaii of the north’ – from the Copeland Islands Marine Park, a haven of protected islets with abundant marine life that offers perhaps the most spectacular sunsets on the coast.
Whether you want to paddle all day or sit back and soak it all in, Desolation Sound is the perfect place to chill and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the British Columbia coast.
Inspiring Scenes, Rainforest Trails, Refreshing Lakes
The peaks and valleys of the Coast Mountain range of British Columbia, carved by the surge and retreat of immense glaciers millennia ago, frames many a spectacular family photograph out here in Desolation Sound. The dominating spire of Mount Denman, rising 7000 feet above the shimmering waters, is an iconic image of any Desolation Sound experience.
Ancient trees tower over meandering trails, winding through virgin rainforest that extends right to the shoreline. The Sunshine Coast Trail – an epic 180km hike that begins in Desolation Sound – touches the coast here in a number of places and provides easy access for adventurous sea kayakers. Short hikes can lead to panoramic views of Desolation Sound, the Coast Mountains, the islands and islets of the northern Straight of Georgia and the rugged spine of Vancouver Island.
Numerous opportunities for swimming in freshwater lakes– a rare luxury amongst the salty bays and inlets of the Pacific coast – exist throughout Desolation Sound. Easily accessible by sea kayak, the lakes of Desolation are a wonderful and inviting feature – especially after an active morning on a hot summers’ day. For some lakes, their close proximity to the ocean allows one to portage and continue paddling to a rocky ledge of extreme peacefulness. For other lakes in Desolation, winding trails go deeper into the rainforest, before poking out onto a mossy ledge, where the clean, cool water beckons below. Stretch your legs, soak up the wildness and perhaps take the plunge!
The awesome natural landscape of Desolation Sound rewards you in every direction. From the sheer size and scope of the mountains and the forest to the sight of waterfalls – like Cassel Falls in Teakerne Arm on West Redonda Island – tumbling into the ocean from hidden lakes far above, everywhere you look brings the promise of new and exciting adventures.
While the calm, warm waters and stunning natural scenery of Desolation Sound rightly make this part of the world a premier kayaking experience, the sweeping mountain vistas and lush green forests whisper of the potential for new and deeper exploration just beyond its borders.
Inlets and passages radiate in every direction, snaking their way deeper into the wilderness. North of Desolation Sound, the Redonda Islands support rich and diverse ecosystems that remain virtually untouched by human activity. Looping around these islands by sea kayak can take as long as a week or more, but provides access to truly remote and inspiring experiences rarely found anywhere else in the world.
Launching in the morning from the idyllic Curme Islands in the heart of Desolation Sound, one can’t help but be quietly awed by the presence of Mount Addenbroke. Located on East Redonda Island, this 5500 foot, conical shaped mountain rises steeply from the deep waters of Homfray Channel below. The further you paddle, the wilder it gets, as the imposing fjords of the Coast Mountains take over.
North of the Redondas, the granite cliffs of Toba Inlet, flanked by white peaks, rise vertical from the sea. Remote and beautiful, an exploration of Toba and the channels of Homfray and Waddington is demanding but infinitely rewarding. Immense waterfalls crash into the ocean from hidden alpine lakes. Grizzly and black bears can be seen on the banks of the Brem River as it enters the sea. The forests are thicker, the mountains more humbling.
Everything about Toba Inlet is wild and rugged - winds regularly pick up in the afternoon, creating waves at times of 6 feet or more - but for the experienced and dedicated paddler it can provide unmatched kayaking conditions compared to anywhere on the west coast.
Further on, Cortes and the Rendezvous Islands offer more great kayaking experiences. Continue your loop by returning to Desolation Sound via Lewis Channel and the picturesque lake and waterfall of Teakerne Arm, or for the truly adventurous and competent kayaker, continue northwards and westwards into the Discovery Islands, where ocean currents roar through narrow passages at speeds up to 18 knots!
This is a Powell River Sea Kayak Tour Destination!
Powell River Sea Kayak is THE company to experience Desolation Sound. With over 20 years of local experience, our friendly and helpful staff are passionate and supremely knowledgable about all that Desolation Sound has to offer.
Powell River Sea Kayak provides four great options for experiencing Desolation Sound:
- Rent a kayak from one of two locations – Okeover Inlet and Lund – on the very doorstep of Desolation Sound.
- Take a 7 hour guided day tour into the marine parks.
- Join one of our all-inclusive multi-day guided tours and experience Desolation sound – and beyond – in all its entirety.
- Experience Desolation sound in complete comfort with our wildly wonderful Cabana Desolation Eco-resort! All-inclusive packages are available for those seeking guided or unguided kayaking, or simply to relax and experience the uniqueness of this hand-crafted luxury accommodation in the heart of Desolation Sound.
Please call or email and we will happily work with you to plan your perfect Desolation Sound experience.