Broken Islands Touring and Information for Kayakers
Paddling the Broken Islands
In the Broken Islands you will navigate your way through a maze of more than 100 islands scattered throughout the calm waters of the Barkley Sound. Throughout a vast majority of the summer, the water here is conveniently still because the Barkley Sound is sheltered almost entirely by the group of islands. Every winter, these islands battle brutal Pacific storms that annually terrorize the west coast of Vancouver Island. The sheltered coves and enormous sea caves that have formed over hundreds of years of land clashing with sea are great places to explore in a kayak when these waters sooth for the summertime. Outside of the boat people will explore land that is representative of Vancouver Island’s pristine western coast; lush rainforests, sandy beaches and rocky shorelines.
The Broken Islands’ unique landscapes coupled with the Barkley Sound’s low-key waters are quickly making this one of the most popular places for people to paddle in British Columbia; where people of all skill levels can easily explore Vancouver Island’s west coast beauty. While there are other locations on Vancouver Island where calm ocean inlets create an ideal environment for beginning paddlers, (Kyuquot and Nootka Sound), this spot is simply the most accessible location that also offers beauty representative of the Island’s entire western coast. Its popularity therefore continues to rise among kayaking enthusiasts but since there are over 100 Broken Islands to share, you probably won’t notice the crowd. In fact, your group will most often be paddling through secluded waters and will undoubtedly have its own island to camp on each night.
The Broken Islands are one of three main recreation areas for the Pacific Rim National Park. This archipelago covers more than 10,000 hectares. Each island is relatively small, none stretching more than 2 km in diameter. Despite their size, the Broken Islands have an ecosystem that is thrilling to explore, as vegetation and wildlife are able to flourish here. Massive cedars rise from the grounds of old growth forests and paddlers will observe wildlife from the sea to the sky; sea lions, black bears an eagles to name a few.
Because the Broken Islands are part of the Pacific Rim National Park, their resources have greater protection from the commercial logging and fishing practices that threaten other wilderness areas throughout Vancouver Island’s greater ecosystem. Whether paddling into a protected area such as the Broken Islands or to another spot on Vancouver Island, it is always important that kayakers treat the water and land that they enjoy with respect and observe environmental conscious camping guidelines in order to preserve these gems for future generations of paddlers.
Getting there: Broken Islands trip
Trips into the Broken Islands customarily launch from Port Alberni. To get here, make your way to Nanaimo on the B.C. Ferries from either Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen. From Nanaimo you will drive for about 10 minutes on the TransCanada Hwy 1 north. Be looking for Highway #4 towards Port Alberni. Once you reach the #4, drive west until you are there. The drive will be an adventure in itself through the picturesque Vancouver Island interior landscape.
Learn more about Kayaking the Broken Islands on a Kayak Tour