The Pacific Northwest coast is dotted with many islands, straights, and narrows. Vancouver Island is the biggest island on the coast. It is separated from the BC coast by several Straits: Juan de Fuca Strait, Haro Strait and the Strait of Georgia on the south island, Johnson Straight on the central island, and Queen Charlotte Strait on the north island. These are the Coastal Shores.
The waters between the mainland coast and the island are dotted with numerous islands, large & small. Among the incredible narrows found here, is Seymour Narrows, just north of Campbell River, where Ripple Rock was blasted to ensure safer passage of vessels.
The sea stacks at San Josef Bay are beautiful. Water surging through the sandy passages at high tide has slowly eroded the softer outer rock, leaving behind only the harder formations. Sea stacks typically form when wave action eats away the surrounding soft rock. They can only be found in San Josef Bay on Vancouver Island. They are quite beautiful.
As part of Cape Scott Provincial Park, San Josef Bay is easily accessible on well-maintained trails and boardwalks. From the nearest parking lot and trailhead, there is a three-kilometer hike. Its an easy hike on level ground, the trail could easily handle a buggy or even a wheelchair.
The road in from port hardy is quite long but fairly well maintained, but please drive, with caution as these roads are active logging roads. Turn your lights on and give these trucks the road, they can’t stop very easy and they depend on you to drive carefully. Give them the right away.
Further up our coast, you will find the Islands of Haida Gwaii, this is a most incredible place filled with wild places that seem to go on forever. The islands of Haida Gwaii are 300 km long and located 100 km off the northwest coast of British Columbia. There are two main islands, Graham Island in the north and Moresby in the south, they are divided by the Skidegate Channel and separated from coastal British Columbia by Hecate Strait, a shallow and extremely wild piece of water. The islands have evolved separately from the rest of BC. The last ice age was gentle on the islands and you can find many plants, animals that exist nowhere else on the planet. The best ways to see Haida Gwaii are by ocean kayaking in my eyes.
Queen Charlotte City is nestled on the southern tip of Graham Island is the largest community on the island and has many services to make your stay enjoyable. Queen Charlotte City is located 4 km west of the BC ferry dock at Skidegate Landing.
There are many other communities to visit, places like Sand Spit, Port Clements, Masset, or Skidegate. You can reach most of these by road.
The cultural heritage that is unique to Haida Gwaii is something that all visitors should embrace and enjoy. There are world renowned totem poles and carvings to see and the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve & Haida Heritage Site is another must see. Here you will get a sense of the beauty of the rugged coastal ecology. The park is made up of over 130 smaller islands of the Haida Gwaii archipelago. To access the park, visitors would be wise to plan several days in advance. There is a limit on the number of people who can use the park at any given time so please reserve your adventure. New visitors to the park are required to take an orientation session before they can enter. Kayaking is the best way to see this park as roads are very limited.
The wild & wetlands of the pacific northwest are covered in ancient forests of giant trees, where some of the world’s tallest trees still flourish. It’s a beautiful place… a place of waterfalls and hidden lakes, a place of mists and moss covered trees – a place of wonder. The west coast is speckled with many small islands, bays, inlets, hot springs and native villages. Its large rivers travel from the mountains to the sea, fed by coastal rains. The west coast is carved by many inlets whose bordering mountains soar from sea to sky.
Pacific storms that pound the west coast throughout the year and even more so in winter, are laden with moisture that must be released in order to rise up & over the coastal mountains. The west coast, or as we call it “the wet coast”, truly is a rain forest. The Coastal Shores are simply amazing.
The islands dotting the Pacific Northwest coast have their own unique histories, legends, and stories. From ghost towns to old logging camps, they are just waiting to be explored and rediscovered by visitors & locals, alike!
Vancouver Island has an enviable array of spectacular beaches for you to enjoy. Tourists flock to our renowned beaches, such as the west coast’s Long Beach near Tofino, and the surfing beaches of the southwest coast. The northern beaches are a challenge to access, but then that is why they are so phenomenal!
l have explored many of these remote spots, to often find that I’m the only one there…. See for yourself, just how beautiful these areas are! Stand on any of these beaches, and look out to sea – you’ll view an astonishing range of sea life: whales, otters, seals, and so much more.
There are many mountain trails on the coast, that can take you up into the high country. Any one of these exhilarating trail hikes could be considered a journey of a lifetime!
There is so much to see and do, here… Just step outside your door, and you’re on your way to being part of the limitless wonders that is the Pacific Northwest.