Kayaking Sechelt / Nelson Inlet Kayak Touring and Information
NELSON ISLAND AND SECHELT INLET
Paddling Nelson Island and Hardy Island
The Sunshine Coast, off British Columbia’s mainland, offers some of the best kayaking in British Columbia and these two islands are located right at the heart of this paradise. Situated at the mouth of Jervis Inlet, Nelson Island and Hardy Island are located just between the northern and southern peninsulas making up the Sunshine Coast. To their north is the Malaspina Peninsula and south is the Sechelt Peninsula. These two islands have long been a favorite among Sunshine Coast tourists because of their beautiful bays, diverse beaches and easy access.
Nelson Island, the bigger of the two islands, has been explored extensively and is a worthy attraction for nature lovers. Named originally for the great British Naval officer Viscount Horatio Nelson, Nelson Island has been delighting travelers for decades. One might be able to say that Nelson Island is the birthplace of tourism on the Sunshine Coast. It was here that Harry Roberts lived in the 1920’s. At this time Roberts, hoping to attract tourism, painted “The Sunshine Belt” on a shed on his property so that travelers would adopt the nickname for the area. They did just that and over time the Sunshine Belt evolved into what is widely known to be the Sunshine Coast. SunRay, which is Roberts’ homestead, still stands but the property is now owned by B.C. Hydro. Locals are currently lobbying to make it a British Columbia Park.
One of the most fascinating things to explore throughout these islands is what travelers have left over the years. Paddling the shorelines, you will find old-abandoned dwelling that will stir your imagination about who lived there here once. There are also shipwrecks underneath the water that affirm that this has long been an anchorage for companies looking to milk coastal resources.
Paddling around Nelson Island, there are several places you will pass that are representative of the Sunshine Coast’s rare beauty and other places that come with interested historical Canadian tidbits. Paddling from Pender Harbour, one of the first places you will come to on Nelson Island is Quarry Bay. It is worth beaching your boats in this bay to check out the massive amount of granite in the area. This granite is not untouched and many of Vancouver’s building have been built with granite from this very bay. In fact, the lions sculpted outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery are examples of Quarry Bay Granite. On the east side of the bay you will see a stream heading down to the mud flat. Land-lovers should take the time to walk the trail along the stream leading to Little Quarry Lake.
Back in the boats, you will soon pass Cape Cockburn and Cockburn Bay. Admiral Sir George Cockburn, for whom the Cape and Bay were named, is an interesting figure in Canada’s history. In 1814, to avenge the burning of York, which we now know as Toronto, Cockburn sailed the Chesapeake to burn the Capitol buildings in Washington D.C. Near this cape is where Roberts’ SunRay homestead was located and although it is currently owned by B.C. Hydro, camping is currently allowed on property.
Moving past Cockburn Bay, you will find your way to a lagoon called Hidden Basin. This is one of the most prized spots around the island among paddlers. Rock gardens line the coast at its entrance and within the lagoon and for a half a mile, paddlers can enjoy its completely still waters as well as the flora and fauna surrounding. At the end of the basin, at Ballet Bay, there is a hiking trail you can take to Blind Bay though you may prefer just paddling as it’s a long way to portage your boats.
Once in Blind Bay, paddlers will have the pleasure to paddle through many Islands and Islets. Oyster Island is a great place to grab some oysters. Go figure. Musket Island has a fantastic campground. Also in Blind Bay you will find Nelson Island’s beautiful but small neighbor Hardy Island, which is worth any exploration you have time for. Kit and crew have always found Hardy Island to be a great place to rest their heads for the night.
Learn more about Kayaking the Sechelt area with Kits Kayaking Tours