Desolation Sound

Getting Around Desolation Sound: the Jewel of B.C.’s Georgia Strait

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Photo: Dan Batchelor. Desolation Sound possesses a sort of magnetism that attracts adventurous boaters the world over.

Desolation Sound is a myriad of islands and waterways that have boater’s fingers poised over the nautical chart drawing imagined routes of exploration. Located at the northeast end of B.C.’s Georgia Strait, on the Sunshine Coast, the fun begins where the road ends at Lund as Desolation Sound can only be explored by air or sea.

Choosing Your Path: Cruising Deep Channels and Secluded Inlets

The open entrance into Desolation Sound gives boaters options to go left, right, or straight ahead to navigate the many deep channels and secluded inlets or circumnavigate large islands such as East and West Redonda.

Whether you opt for the nimble maneuverability of a kayak, the leisurely pace of a sailboat, or the comfort of an expedition yacht, Desolation Sound caters to various types of traveler.

For those seeking a seamless and curated exploration, a small ship cruise with Maple Leaf Adventures offers the luxuries of a well-appointed vessel, expert navigation, and a thoughtfully crafted itinerary—allowing guests to relax and immerse themselves in the breathtaking scenery, without the logistical considerations.

Photo: Jeff Reynolds. Paddling through paradise with great company in Desolation Sound.

Natural Splendor: Scenic Views and Warm Ocean Waters

Desolation’s scenery is renowned, as is its exceptional warm ocean waters due to the relatively low tidal exchange and solar warming making it an ideal place for swimming, kayaking and other water activities. Approaching Desolation Sound, layers of islands fade into distant purple hues backdropped by the rugged snow-capped mountains of the Unwin Range on the mainland.

Mount Denman’s near-symmetrical pyramidal peak rises like a sentinel on the horizon beckoning boaters… like the Matterhorn to climbers. Indeed, it feels like the steep-sided arms of Desolation Sound’s glacier-carved inlets invite one to come closer. Anchoring at the foot of these mountains, that rise 4500 feet directly behind, is one of the most scenic spots to overnight in aptly named Prideaux Haven.

The Curve of Time: Reliving the Past Through Exploration

Indeed, Desolation Sound, with its 6350 acres of shoreline, calm waters, and snug coves is a boater’s paradise. Visiting B.C.’s largest Marine Provincial Park, created in 1973, one feels like they have gone back to a simpler era, steeped in rich history.

The pictographs at Walsh Cove have stood the test of time; red paintings a reminder that this is the traditional territory of the Tla’amin, Holmalco, and Klahoose First Nations.

To walk the wooden boardwalk of Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island, established by hand loggers in the 1900s, and visit the quaint, local store and art gallery feels like time gone by when the waterways were the highways to commerce. Exploring emerald coves flanked by peeling red arbutus and evergreen trees, the silence is punctuated only by the raven’s raucous cry and the shrill note of the red-beaked Oystercatchers.

In these protected coves are the remains of gnarled apple trees and daylilies planted by the homesteaders of the past, such as in Laura Cove and Tenedos Bay. These characters come alive in Muriel Wylie Blanchet’s 1920s boater’s classic “The Curve of Time” where she single-handedly cruised with her five young children and wrote about their explorations.

Photo: Simon Ager. Meet the locals! In spring and fall, bears can be seen going about their daily lives.

Beyond the Surface: Nature Viewing and Unscripted Adventures

Cruising life can be quiet times sitting on deck with a steaming cup of coffee and just watching the scenery go by, or the excitement of seeing the tall dorsal fin of the Bigg’s orcas slice through the water in search of prey, or Dahl’s porpoises bow-riding the boat’s bow wave. From watching black bears foraging on the shoreline, to being watched by Bald Eagles staring down from the mossed canopy of the rainforest, nature viewing is all around.

Maple Leaf Adventures: Your Gateway to Desolation Sound

Embarking on a Desolation Sound tour with Maple Leaf Adventures can include kayaking above stretches of colorful sea stars, leisurely exploring secluded coves, and hiking through ancient forests to crystal clear lakes.

From witnessing the sea color change to aquamarine in the oyster-lined recesses of Pendrell Sound or the glacial-silted waters of Toba Inlet, Desolation Sound is full of surprises and beauty that won’t disappoint the most discerning traveler.


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