Coastal Mountaineering

exploring BC's coastlines and mountain ranges

Gulf Islands

Multi-day sea kayaking trips through the Gulf Islands; from the tricky currents and tides of the Southern Gulf Islands to the stunning beauty of Helliwell Park and Tribune Bay on Hornby Island in the north.

A pocket beach gives Lindsay and I access to the arbutus forests of Helliwell Park on Hornby Island. November, 2018

The Gulf Islands are sprinkled in the Strait of Georgie between the southeastern end of Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC. They offer secluded, relaxing kayaking to established campsites. Despite the lack of wilderness and solitude, the Gulf Islands are a beautiful area to explore by sea kayak.

Paddlers can often escape the crowds and yachts along stretches of the “outside” of Valdes, Galiano, and Gabriola Islands. Arbutus forests dominate the majority of the islands, while beautiful clamshell midden beaches attest to the long First Nations presence in the region and offer beautiful places to stop for a break. Massive cliffs greet kayakers on many of the islands, and the intricate, collapsing sandstone shoreline of the De Courcy Group of Islands is stunning and a must-stop. Trips in the Southern Gulf Islands are heavily dictated by the strange currents and tides that dominate the region, and those looking for excitement can easily find it by approaching one of the passes through the outer islands at the wrong time!

In the north, Denman and Hornby offer other delights to paddlers. Sometimes grouped with the Discovery Islands, Hornby and Denman share a similar geology and feeling to the southern Gulf Islands, so we have chosen to group them together. Paddling here is more difficult due to the lack of campsites on Hornby Island, but one could easily loop the island in a day from a site on Denman or even Vancouver Island. Tribune Bay and Helliwell Park on Hornby are two highlights of the entire Strait of Georgia region; and the sunset we saw from Jáji7em and Kw’ulh Marine Park (Sandy Island) on the northern tip of Denman remains the best we have ever witnessed.

Trip Reports

Keep heading up the coast with trips in the Discovery, Desolation, and Sunshine regions.

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