Touring Vancouver Island – 8 Secluded Destinations You Can Get to by Boat
Owning a boat is like having a ticket to the most exclusive locations around Vancouver Island. From jaw-dropping coves and inlets to trails leading to hidden crystal-clear lakes, stunning ocean vistas and serene campsites, boating here means you can experience the power and beauty of the coast firsthand. Landing in places where RVers cannot or do not dare to go, your yacht will let you access secluded spots where you can moor for a few hours or a few days, or even go ashore and experience wilderness camping.
Vancouver Island and Coastal BC is a haven for natural wonders, so your chances are very good that no matter which location you choose to venture to, you’ll find a quiet space to enjoy. Remember that there is always an empty shoreline around the next corner.
The diverse geography, tidal patterns and landscapes of Desolation Sound, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast create an incredibly varied ecosystem with endless opportunities for exploration.
Eight Secluded Destinations
Not many boaters make the journey to Cabbage Island and with its white sand beaches, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise when you land. Part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Cabbage Island is a tiny island that neighbours Tumbo and Saturna Islands. The Anchorage has 10 mooring buoys and while relatively sheltered, there can be some strong winds off the Strait of Georgia. On Cabbage Island you can sunbathe, picnic, scuba dive among the reefs and fish the day away.
With over 6,000 acres of shoreline, Desolation Sound is the largest marine park in BC and the perfect place to find your new favourite anchorage spot. Most anchorage locations are sheltered and enclosed by topography that ranges from low shoreline to mountainsides. Despite its name, coined by Cpt. George Vancouver for its forbidding-looking terrain, Desolation Sound has warm water for swimming, scuba diving, paddling and salmon fishing. It’s a yachter’s paradise thanks to the calm waters and many sheltered bays, as well as endless islands and archipelagos to explore.
Pirates Cove (Decourcy Island)
While Pirates Cove is popular among boaters, the sheltered anchorage makes it ideal for mooring off the coastline. Another great way to experience the Southern Gulf Islands, Decourcy Island has two dinghy docks and has picnic facilities, non-potable cold water via hand pump, pit toilets, and 6 walk-in campsites. This is a great starting point for off the beaten path exploration.
In the Sunshine Coast, Savary Island feels almost tropical, with white sandy beaches and a warm southern tide. Only 7.5 KM long, Savary is home to sand dunes, ancient forest and dune meadows, making it one of the most diverse (and sensitive) ecosystems on the coast. Savary has no power or public camping and only a handful of accommodations for overnight guests—designed to maintain the natural beauty of the island. At the entrance to Desolation Sound, Savary Island has been known as a cottage destination since the 1930’s and has about 100 permanent residents.
Thurston Bay Marine Provincial Park (Sonora Island)
In Johnstone Strait, Thurston Bay Provincial Park provides sheltered anchorage and is undeveloped, with no facilities. Random camping and small campfires are allowed. Small, scenic beaches and a trail leading to Florence Lake (great for swimming and fishing) make this an ideal place to anchor and explore.
Between Saltspring and Galiano Islands, Wallace Island Provincial Park is an ideal place to explore the Southern Gulf Islands at a quieter port. It is open for day use and camping at its 18 walk-in campsites which have basic facilities, a small dock at Conover Cove and sheltered anchorage with stern tie ups at Conover Cove as well as Princess Bay. For vessels less than 11 m (36 ft), anchorage is further out in the cove. Wallace Island Park offers swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and hiking as well as access to many coves and beaches – just one more way to enjoy this park. Note that due to reefs, shoals and low tides in the cove, boaters must use caution to avoid grounding.
Walsh Cove Provincial Park (West Redonda Island)
Though named a Provincial Park, Walsh Cove is undeveloped and very secluded. It’s excellent for swimming, diving, fishing and kayaking and is a safe, scenic place to anchor. North of Desolation Sound on the Waddington Channel, it’s one of several marine parks in the Sound.
Open for day use, this is an islet in the Decourcy group of islands. Tiny Whaleboat Island is undeveloped and features a stunning, sheltered intertidal shoreline that is perfect for boating and paddling. Between Ruxton and Pylades, it’s a great spot to watch for transient Orcas as well as watch the flocks of Cormorants and Oystercatchers.
To help you plan your trip off the beaten path, take a look at our guide to prepping for long boat trips for information on everything from preparing your yacht, stocking your boat with the best foods and all the essentials, as well as planning your route. Pick up a tide chart at the Dock Store as backup for your navigation system and top up at the fuel dock before you set out.
If you’re looking for a new boat or yacht to see even more of what the West Coast has to offer, our team at Van Isle Marina is happy to help match you with the perfect boat for your needs, whether that’s for fishing, scuba diving, or island-hopping. Come down to our world-class sales dock at 2320 Harbour Road near the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal and explore our wide range of pre-owned yachts and boats for sale.