Discovery Islands - Visitor Information
The Discovery Islands provide a multitude of adventure and recreation opportunities. Sea kayaking, hiking, diving, sportfishing, mountain biking and canoe touring are all popular activities catered to by local guiding outfitters and resorts. Sea kayaks, mountain bikes, canoes and power boats may all be rented locally. The islands are home to many outstanding artists from a wide spectrum of disciplines and there are several galleries, a museum of Kwagiulth art and culture, annual festivals and a garden tour for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.
Quadra Island, Cortes Island, Read Island, Maurelle Island, Sonora Island and East and West Thurlow Islands, collectively known as the Discovery Islands are located between Campbell River, Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia on the west coast of Canada. Because of their close proximity the neighbouring Stuart Island, East and West Redonda Islands and the Rendezvous Islands are also commonly referred to as part of the Discovery Islands group. The temperate climate, spectacular scenery, quiet rural lifestyle and endless recreation opportunities combine to make the Discovery Islands a highly desirable place to live and visit.
Quadra Island is one of the larger and most populous of the Discovery Islands. It is the commercial hub of the islands providing all services and amenities to residents and locals alike. The 10 minute ferry ride from Campbell River across Discovery Passage arrives in Quathiaski Cove the picturesque main community of the Discovery Islands. The majority of Quadra's residents live on the southern peninsula in an idyllic rural setting. To the north the terrain is more rugged culminating in the high point of Mt Seymour which gives commanding views of the surrounding islands and mountains at 2,000 ft. Hiking trails criss cross the island and old logging roads form a network of trails ideal for mountain biking.
Quadra Island is home to the largest chain of freshwater lakes on Canada's west coast (excluding of course Vancouver Island), the Main Lakes Chain (or Village Bay Lakes). The lakes have summer cabins around the shore but there are quiet back waters perfect for canoe or sea kayak touring. A horsepoer restriction is in effect on the lakes.
Quadra's coastal shoreline is an intricate maze of channels, inlets, beaches and islets perfect for sea kayaking. Rebecca Spit is one of Quadra's biggest attractions and a focal point for the community. Below the surface, the rich marine life and clear water of Discovery Passage is world renknowned for its diving experience. Heriot Bay on the east side of Quadra Island is the port of departure for the regular ferry to Cortes Island.
Across Sutil Channel, a 40 minute ferry crossing from Quadra Island, is Cortes Island. Home to 1,000 residents Cortes Island has an equally rich community, arts, culture and recreation. The rain shadow of Vancouver Island creates a drier climate on Cortes' southern end. Arbutus and manzanita trees cling to stark white granite bluffs in a unique landscape. The shoreline around Cortes Island is deeply folded with such features as Von Donop Inlet, Manson's Lagoon, Gorge Harbour and Cortes Bay startlingly beautiful with emerald water set off by the surrounding granite shore. Smelt Bay Park is home to one of the larger and sandiest beaches in the region and is a must visit.
Cortes Island is the gateway to world famous Desolation Sound a popular sailing, cruising and sea kayaking destination. Further afield the Outer Islands and Mainland Inlets complete the picture. Read Island, Maurelle Island, Sonora Island, Bute Inlet and Toba Inlet are all part of this dramatic land & sea scape. Home to a few resourceful people, much wildlife and stunning scenery, this is the edge of one of the world's greatest mountain wildernesses, BC's Coast Mountains. Lacking ferry access, these islands and inlets can be explored by plane or boat and several operators offer these services locally.