Kayak Destinations | Desolation Sound, BC | Overview
Sea Kayak Desolation Sound, Redonda Islands, Toba Inlet, Cortes Island, Copeland Islands, Savary Island, Discovery Islands, British Columbia, Canada
Powell River Sea Kayak is located on the shore some of the most accessible and spectacular sea kayaking destinations on the west coast of British Columbia.
With towering mountains, deep fjords, idyllic island camps, thick rainforest, prolific wildlife, protected marine parks and sandy beaches, Desolation Sound and its connected waterways offers something for all levels of kayaker - from deep immersion and relaxation to more challenging expeditions.
With over 20 years of experience kayaking in this incredible area, Powell River Sea Kayak is the sea kayak company for Desolation Sound. Read on for more information about the destinations easily reached from our two locations in Lund and Okeover Inlet, British Columbia.
Click on the destination of choice for a more detailed summary of each destination.
Desolation Sound is one of the premier sea kayaking destinations on the west coast of British Columbia. With protected waters that can reach up to 24 degrees celsius (70 degrees fahrenheit) in the height of summer, idyllic island campsites and refreshing lakes hidden by lush coastal rainforest, all framed by the impressive Coast Mountains, it is no wonder Desolation Sound has the reputation that it does as a perfect, relaxing vacation destination just 5 hours north of Vancouver.
Options exist for setting up a base camp and radiating each day in a different direction, or packing up every morning and visiting every nook and cranny of one of British Columbia's largest marine parks.
The Inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park
From Powell River Sea Kayak’s launch site at Penrose Bay on Okeover Inlet, the Inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park are the perfect introduction to the Desolation Sound area and the west coast in general. More protected than the Strait of Georgia or Desolation Sound itself, the inlets of Okeover, Malaspina, Lancelot and Theodosia offer incredible opportunities for day trips or longer periods of deeper exploration.
Okeover and Malaspina Inlets have a great diversity of marine wildlife, from sea stars, sea cucumbers, spiny urchins and colourful anemones in the intertidal zone to colonies of seals, otters, bald eagles and great blue herons on the shore.
Lancelot and Theodosia Inlets offer a serene and remote side-trip to any Desolation Sound vacation. Quiet coves and bays provide perfect lunch spots with views of Coast Mountains, as well as calm areas for swimming and snorkeling in the warm, protected waters.
With ample camping opportunities, the Inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park are great for day trips or camping adventures for young families and those that are looking to get away from it all for a couple of peaceful days. The inlets are also a popular launching point for adventures into Desolation Sound and beyond.
Toba Inlet and Redonda Islands
The waters immediately north of Desolation Sound compel adventurous kayakers, enticing them with possibilities of paddling right into the Coast Mountains themselves. The passages that flank East and West Redonda Island can be paddled in any number of combinations, connecting to create a ‘loop’ from a home base in Desolation Sound that can be completed in anywhere from three days to a week or more, and allowing you to access a diverse variety of remote and inspiring locations.
Massive snow capped mountains rising straight out of the sea, lush impenetrable rainforest, and abundant wildlife (including grizzly bear viewing opportunities in the remotest regions) gives this area of the coast a humbling and awe-inspiring atmosphere that is usually only found in the most inaccessible regions of the coast.
Deep passages of rich dark green give way to colours of turquoise and blue as you approach the glacial fed waters of Toba Inlet, which carves its way 22 miles into the heart of the magnificent Coast Mountains. The deeper you paddle into Toba, the higher the mountains rise. Waterfalls tumble down thousands of feet and crash into the sea at the base of these immense cliffs, broken up intermittently by small, inviting pocket beaches with hidden tenting opportunities in the lush rainforest.
The Copeland Islands Marine Provincial Park is a serene collection of islands and islets in the Strait of Georgia, a mere one hour paddle from the town of Lund at the end of Highway 101. The Copeland Islands offer a maze of connecting routes and sheltered waterways with great opportunities for viewing a diverse array of marine and bird wildlife, as well as unique plant-life including ancient, gnarled pines and even cactus on the dry, exposed islets!
With expansive views across the Strait of Georgia to the rugged spine of Vancouver Island, endless bays and rock pools to explore, and some of the best sunsets on the entire British Columbia coast, the Copeland Islands are perfect for both a day of exploration or as a scenic camping destination on the way to Desolation Sound and beyond.
Sandy Savary Island is locally known as the ‘Hawaii of the north’, and with expansive beaches baking in the sun and warming the water with the rising tide, it is easy to see how one can close their eyes and imagine they are vacationing in a tropical paradise. That is, until they open their eyes again and take in the stunning backdrop of the snow-covered peaks of Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia!
Formed by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago, Savary’s unique position is home to a fragile dune ecosystem of birds and plants found nowhere else on the British Columbia coast. Scores of massive boulders stretching hundreds of metres off the southern shoreline offers the perfect opportunity for kayakers to explore this hidden reef away from powerboats and all other distractions. Perfect for a day paddle from Lund, or if you don’t want to leave quite so fast, set up a tent on your own deserted beach and camp under the stars.
Cortes and the Discovery Islands
To the west of Desolation Sound, within an easy days paddle of Lund, Cortes Island is a breathtakingly beautiful and eclectic destination with a small, year-round community of artists and homesteaders. The southern tip of the Cortes is dotted with small pocket beaches and inspiring west coast homes overlooking the beautiful Strait of Georgia and Desolation Sound, but as you paddle north this semi-rural landscape is replaced by rocky cliffs and untouched rainforest. Lagoons and inlets cut deep into the island and offer further avenues of exploration well away from the last vestiges of civilization.
As the southernmost of the Discovery Islands, Cortes is also the gateway to the dynamic waters to the north, including the tidal rapids or Surge Narrows and Okisollo Channel, and remote and beautiful Octopus Islands, which has some of the most prolific marine wildlife on the entire west coast. Advanced paddlers will appreciate the more challenging conditions within striking distance of Lund and Desolation Sound.
Powell River Regional Area
Apart from Desolation Sound, Powell River and the Upper Sunshine Coast has seemingly endless on-water options for kayakers.
The Powell Forest Canoe Route is an ever popular way to explore the incredibly vast freshwater lake system in the backcountry behind Powell River. The semi-circle route connects 12 lakes together with 20 campsites and a well-built system of portage trails.
A circumnavigation of uninhabited Harwood Island is an excellent day paddle launching from Gibson’s beach, 5 km north of Powell River. Harwood Island is part of the Sliammon First Nation’s traditional territory and has a large cultural significance for the Sliammon people.
Texada Island is the largest island in the Strait of Georgia and accessible via a 25 minute ferry from Powell River. The western shoreline is seldom paddled and offers excellent shoreline exploration, with sandy beaches and prolific marine wildlife.
Across from Texada to the west, Jebediah Island Marine Provincial Park is a remote island paradise in the middle of the Strait of Georgia that offers incredible exploration both by kayak and on foot. Originally homesteaded in the 1800s, much of the homestead and equipment remains, along with meandering trails, old growth forest and even wild goats and sheep - thought to be descendants of the animals left behind when George Vancouver and his crew first set foot on the island in 1792!
South of Powell River, Hotham Sound is easily accessible from Saltery Bay and offers sheltered paddling among various coves and bays with majestic scenery of sea to sky mountains carved by glaciers eons ago.