Added by Melynda Bergen
Nootka Sound is a powerful, wild place with intoxicating beauty and history. It was the landing point of Captain Cook, and the first place of contact of both Spanish and European explorers with Canada's First Nations people. The coast is rugged and wildlife sightings are guaranteed.
Whether you are an intermediate or advanced paddler, there are amazing options in Nootka Sound. No matter where you end up going within this area you will likely see seals, sea lions, bears, and an array of sea birds; if you're lucky you may even see whales, wolves, cougars and otters. This area used to be populated by thousands of Nuu-chah-nulth people, but now is almost entirely desolate, leaving it with a haunted feeling and rich history.
There are a few ways of getting to Nootka Sound. The first is driving to Cougar Creek Recreational Site, and putting in there. The second is a wet launch from the Uchuck III, boarded in Gold River. The third, and most expensive, is by float plane through Nootka Air.
For intermediate paddlers, a good route is a circumnavigation of Bligh Island and an exploration of the archipelago of surrounding islands. On this trip you will see a great array of wildlife, beautiful forests and intertidal life, all while staying close to shore and avoiding exposed crossings and open seas. There is a provincial camp site at the southern point of Bligh Island, and camping can also be found at 49.654362, -126.550601 and 49.635822, -126.584640 or at any beaches marked on your chart in the Spanish Pilot Group. As there is not really any camping on the northern half of Bligh Island, and much of the coast in general, it is important to route plan well.
For advanced paddlers capable of long and exposed crossings there are a few more places worth checking out. Friendly Cove or Yuquot is a lighthouse located at the south east point of Nootka Island. It is run by a First Nations family and is rich in heritage. Here you can find totem poles, statues, an old church, and a haunting history you won't soon forget. Camping can be found here, although you will likely be asked to pay. If you hope to stay here it's worth bringing some good coffee for the lighthouse keeper. While on Nootka Island spend the time to go for an explore into Sant-Boca Provincial Park. Burdwood, Estevan, and Escalante are also beautiful beaches south east of Bligh Island that are definitely worth visiting. Depending on the weather these beaches can all be quite large surf landings and the crossings are very exposed.
More information can be found at bcadventure.com and vancouverisland.com. Guides and gear rentals can be found through Strathcona Park Lodge, getwest.ca or a quick Google search.
- All camping gear: tents, sleeping bags, mats, stove, etc.
- Full Sea Kayak setup: skirt, pump, paddle floats, spare paddle, flares, tow line, and whistle
- FHV radio
- Chart(s), compass and tide information
- Dry or wet Suit, PFD
- I would also recommend bringing an extra cooking tarp, as rain can set in for days at a time
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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