Quadra Island, Comox-Strathcona J, BC, Canada
Time from Vancouver (car and ferry)
Before you leave, register with BC Parks’ backcountry registration system. Click on Desolation Sound Marine and you’ll be able to pay for a permit ($5 a head for anyone over six years old.) Once that’s sorted, drive and ferry to Campbell River and from there, ferry again across to Quadra Island.
Trade your car for a kayak
Just south of the main town on Quadra is Heriot Bay, which makes for an ideal first destination. Once there, ditch your vehicle and hop in a kayak. If you haven’t brought your own, or rented one from MEC in advance, there are three local options for this: Quadra Island Kayaks, Spirit of the West Adventures and Nimbus Paddles. From here on out, your boat will be your preferred mode of transportation. If you’re new to kayaking, look into guided tours, or check out intro kayaking and marine navigation MEC workshops to gain skills and know-how before you launch into the water.
Paddle to Cortes
From Heriot Bay, paddle to Cortes Island for lunch and tour around the small town located on the coast of the island. Keep an eye out for wildlife, like sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks.
Take a dip in the ocean
Cortes has many beaches that – in the right season, of course – are great for swimming. Check out Smelt Bay Provincial Park, a kid-friendly beach that is great for swimming and beachcombing at low tide. Or, stick around for the evening and watch the sunset from here as well.
Sleep under the trees
Kayak on over to Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, where the camping permit you purchased before you left will come in handy. Note that the permit doesn’t actually guarantee you a spot on the campgrounds, so you’ll want to time your trip wisely so you can snag one of the 11 designated camping spots. Your best bet is the Middle Copeland campsite, which can be accessed easily by kayak from Cortes.