Cruising, Fishing and Anchorages in The Barkley Sound
For any boater who is also into fishing, kayaking and exploring, Barkley Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island is a must-see.
Barkley Sound is an 800 square km area between Bamfield and Ucluelet, including the entrance to the Alberni inlet. Set within the Pacific Rim National Park area, it’s a popular tourist destination thanks to its top-class fishing opportunities, hundreds of islands to explore and friendly, small communities to visit.
Boaters can cruise the area, exploring islands, inlets and nooks, diving or fishing for salmon and halibut.
To access the Barkley Sound area, the best options for putting in are Ucluelet, Bamfield Inlet or even Port Alberni. Keep in mind that setting off from Port Alberni is a much longer route, requiring a 60km sail down the Alberni Inlet to reach the Barkley Sound.
There are numerous options for moorage throughout the Barkley Sound, although many boaters prefer the freedom of anchoring up amongst the islands and exploring from there by dinghy or kayak.
Things To Do In Barkley Sound
Explore the Broken Group Islands
The Broken Group Islands, situated to the southeast of Ucluelet, is made of numerous small islands, channels and inlets which are just begging to be explored. Very popular with kayakers who participate in multi-day paddles in the area, the waters can definitely get busy in the summer.
The best way to explore the Broken Group Islands is to anchor up and take a dinghy or kayak around and between the islands where you can investigate coves. You can also pull up onto one of many sandy beaches for a secluded picnic.
The bay at Turtle Island provides sheltered water to anchor up before settling down to watch a spectacular sunset.
Effingham Bay, on Effingham Island, one of the largest islands in the Broken Group, is considered to have the best big boat anchorage in the area. The southeast corner of the bay is well protected, except during periods of strong westerly winds. Effingham is an interesting island to explore, with beaches, remains of a village and a sea cave on the island’s east side.
Find the waterfall at Lucky Creek
Lucky Creek is a 3km long river with a waterfall at its endpoint. Located east of Refuge Island, Lucky Creek is tidal and can be impassible at low tide, so make sure you check the tide times before heading upriver in your dinghy. When you reach the end of the creek, a short climb over some rocks reveals the waterfall and bathing pools, if you are brave enough to face the cool water.
Watch Marine Wildlife
Marine wildlife is abundant in the Barkley Sound. The ocean itself teems with orcas, humpback whales, the imperial eagle porpoises, sea lions, seals and sea otters, many of which you’ll encounter while cruising the waters around the islands.
On the coast, you may see black bears roaming the shoreline depending on the time of year, and don’t forget to look up to sight the majestic bald eagles, which are as attracted by the fish in the area as humans are.
If you are lucky enough to spot a whale while sailing around Vancouver Island, remember to follow the regulations regarding safe marine mammal viewing.
Fishing in Barkley Sound
Barkley Sound is a fishing lover’s dream. Year-round, salmon, halibut and lingcod fishing draws anglers from far and wide to come and make their big catch of the day. There are a number of fishing charters and lodges in the area that can guide you to the prime fishing grounds and even prepare your catch afterwards.
Moorage Sites in Barkley Sound
If anchoring up around one of the many islands in Barkley sound isn’t for you, or you are looking for some other services where you moor, consider some of these options:
- Island West Resort in Ucluelet offers short term moorage options as well as fishing charters and has a pub onsite.
- Mills Landing Cottages and Charters in Bamfield offers more than just moorage. For those interested in fishing, Mills Landing can supply everything you need from bait to a cleaning station and their guides can even point you to the best fishing spots. Wildlife viewing tours are also available here if you want to take a break from sailing for a day.
- Barkley Sound Lodge located in a secluded inlet in the centre of the Sound, offers a chance to anchor in true wilderness, yet still experience a modern and elegant resort. Enjoy a night off the water with one of their packages including lodge accommodation, fishing excursions and meals.
- Poet Nook Marina which is situated north east of Bamfield, near the Alberni Inlet entrance, is a 140 vessel, state of the art marina, which makes a great base for exploring the sound.
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