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Sailing Canada’s National Parks: The Pacific Coast


2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial (that is to say, 150 years since Confederation), and to celebrate, Parks Canada is making access to national parks free for the year. substantial number of those national parks are on significant coastlines, and can be explored by boat. In this blog, the fourth of the series, we will provide information about National Parks on the Pacific Coast.

NB: If you’d like to order charts for British Columbia and the Pacific Coast, please call us at the store,   1 (800) 463-9951.

Gwaii Hanas National Park Reserve, credit to Parks Canada

Gwaii Hanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area &
Haida Heritage Site
Park Website

Gwaii Haanas embraces more than 1,800 wild, undeveloped islands and islets off the coast of northern British Columbia and is often called Canada’s Galapagos.

Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the mountainous islands are covered by dense Pacific temperate rainforest and shelter an unparalleled diversity of wildlife, from the Haida Gwaii black bear to more than 20 species of whales and dolphins and tidal channels teeming with rainbow-coloured sea stars.

Gwaii Haanas is also a unique living museum, with an aboriginal history stretching at least 12,000 years. Historic villages, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site with century-old totem poles, are hidden throughout the islands, overseen by indigenous Haida Gwaii Watchmen who welcome visitors.

Travellers can explore Gwaii Haanas independently or via guided tours. Visits can range from a single day to longer adventures of a week or more, with most trips involving some combination of boating, kayaking and hiking.

Charts: 3807 Atli Inlet to Selwyn Inlet, 3808 Juan Perez Sound, 3809 Carpenter Bay to Burnaby Island, 3811 Harbours in Queen Charlotte Islands, 3825 Cape St James to Houston Stewart Channel, 3853 Cape St James to Cumshewa Inlet and Tasu Sound, 3857 Louscoone Inlet, 3858 Flamingo Inlet, 3859 Tasu Sound, 3864 Gowgaia Bay
Cruising Guides: Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia Including the Queen Charlotte Islands

Des kayakistes dans les eaux cristallines entourant les îles et les îlots du Tiny Group. Réserve de parc national Pacific Rim. / A group of kayakers paddle through the crystal clear waters among the ‘Tiny Group’ islands and islets. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Credit to Parks Canada

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Park Website

Imagine the sand between your toes, eagles soaring overhead and the ocean stretching off as far as the eye can see. Or turn inland and walk among ferns the size of a small child rising from a bed of moss, with old-growth Sitka spruce, Western red cedar and Western hemlock towering above.

Suit up in your storm gear and watch the winter breakers crash on a rocky shoreline, or enjoy a summer stroll along an endless sandy beach. Paddle a pristine maze of islets accessible only by water. Take the hike of a lifetime through verdant old-growth forests and along unspoiled pebble beaches. Or enjoy a relaxing stroll along a sandy beach, pausing to explore tidal pools teeming with colourful sea life.

But there’s more at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve than just natural charms. Learn first-hand how an indigenous culture developed in harmony with the local environment, as First Nations partners continue the age-old practice of welcoming and sharing Nuu-chah-nulth history, tradition and culture. Step out of your kayak to be greeted by a First Nation Beach Keeper, or hear ancient legends told around the campfire by Guardians of the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers a West Coast experience steeped in nature and history.

Charts: 3671 Barkley Sound
Cruising Guide: Cruising Guide to the West Coast of Vancouver Island


Après avoir suivi le sentier de randonnée jusqu’à la terrasse d’observation du mont Norman, sur l’île Pender, on peut admirer le panorama spectaculaire. Réserve de parc national des Îles-Gulf. / Two hikers marvel at the spectacular views afforded after walking the trail up to the viewing platform on Mount Norman, on Pender Island. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Credit to Parks Canada

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Park Website

Scattered throughout the Salish Sea, the Gulf Islands teem with wildlife, a haven for rare species and threatened eco-systems and a playground for hikers, campers, cyclists, boaters and kayakers.

With urban centres close by, the Gulf Islands are an easily accessible natural oasis. Sail or paddle a kayak on sheltered waterways through a scenic maze of islands thriving with wildlife from seabirds to whales. Explore the reserve’s 15 islands amid history and wilderness chiming with songbirds, hiking to mountaintop views of snowy ranges. Visit on a self-guided day-trip or stay for longer camping or kayaking adventures.

Eagles and seabirds swirl in the skies above the Salish Sea, sheltered, islet-dotted waters teeming with seals, otters, orcas and pods of porpoises. Kayak, hike or cycle a lush paradise with rare eco-systems basking in a Mediterranean-like climate – the forested Gulf Islands are laced with trails leading to mountaintop viewpoints, lighthouses, and reminders of First Nations and pioneer pasts, while their shores and lagoons are a haven for thriving birdlife.

Charts: 3441 Haro Strait, Boundary Pass and Satellite Channel, 3462 Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia, 3473 Active, Porlier Pass and Montague Harbour, 3475 Plans – Stuart Channel, 3477 Plans – Gulf Islands, 3478 Plans- Saltspring Island, 3479 Approaches to Sidney
Cruising Guides: A Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide, Vol 1: Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island, Exploring the San Juan and Gulf Islands, Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage


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