Discovery Island Serves Up Plenty of Fun

Island living isn’t just for the Caribbean, in fact, Canada is home to all kinds of islands including Discovery Island in British Columbia. This rather unique group of islands is an archipelago and is found between north-central Vancouver Island, Campbell River, the mainland, along the Inside Passage. The Discovery Islands are made up of a few different ones and all feature incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, beaches, gorgeous scenery, plenty of activities, and of course a warm and temperate climate making it ideal year-round.

Discovery Island, Canada

Discovery Island, Canada


The Island Lifestyle

What’s evident from the moment you arrive on the Discovery Islands is that this is a rural location. It has both a permanent resident population as well as tourists – throughout the year. The area gets reference in National Geographic Travel under Canada’s 50 Places of a Lifetime theme. What’s great is that by taking a ferry you can reach these islands from Vancouver Island and the town of Campbell River in just 10 minutes if you are traveling to Quadra Island. This is the busiest of the islands. Quadra Island also features a chain of freshwater lakes, the largest of its kind in the country.

Other islands are Read, Cortes, Maurelle, East and West Thurlow, Sonora and there is Campbell River and Mainland Inlets to explore. There are many other islands close by that are often grouped in with the Discovery Islands. These are East and West Redonda Islands, Stuart Island, and the Rendezvous Islands. One thing the islands share is that you’ll be able to find tidal waters crashing on the shores and you can always see the snow-capped British Columbia Mountains.

How to reach

The archipelago is accessible only by watercraft or floatplane and you can choose between Campbell River ferry terminal on Vancouver Island or BC Ferries that sail between Campbell River and Quadra Island daily. Most common means of transport on the land are foot, bicycle, car or taxi. Bicycles can be rented on daily basis at Heriot Bay. Local water taxis connect Campbell River with Quadra, Cortes and other smaller islands, including Sonora, Read, and Rendezvous.

What to do

So what exactly can you do on these islands? You’ll find you’ve got plenty of choices, both indoor and outdoor, with many of them revolving around active things to do. There are accommodations available but, thanks to its close proximity to the mainland, you can even make this location a day trip if you prefer. If you’ve got more time to spare then you can do a little island hopping and get a chance to discover what each one has to offer.

Surf Kayaking, Quadra Island, BC, Canada

Surf Kayaking, Quadra Island, BC, Canada


When it comes to outdoor activities and adventure, there is no shortage of opportunities in Discovery Islands. Some of the activities you can take part in are hiking trails that feature steep climbs, temperate rainforest area, and beaches. You can also enjoy horseback riding, skateboarding, cycling, tennis, mountain biking, diving, canoeing, sailing, kayaking, fishing, and plenty more. You can take part in organized tours or go about things at your own pace and make your own itinerary. If your family is the type who enjoys getting outside and enjoying nature that is untouched and unspoiled then these islands offer wonderful opportunities.

Children will love the variety of wildlife the island life has to offer. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see such wildlife as porpoises, sea lions, grey whales, orcas, seals, herons, and bald eagles. One way to see the wildlife is by taking part in a boat excursion and there are plenty of them available that you can book in advance or find once you’re on the island.

Perhaps you are interested in the area’s arts and culture scene, which is also quite big. Depending on when you visit you can take in local music, artwork, and various events. The area is well known for its roots in the First Nations culture. Even the dining opportunities reflect the First Nations heritage. The islands are home to a handful of galleries, gardens, and a museum of Kwagiulth which is meant to celebrate the history of the people.

Keep in mind that a great number of accommodations are open at peak seasons only so, outside of those times, you may need to book far in advance, in order to find suitable accommodations. You can choose from large hotels, luxurious resorts, lodges, bed and breakfasts, RVs, campgrounds, and for an unforgettable experience, stay in a private home or cottage. These are available as rentals and some are located in some rather fabulous spots.

Taking a Step Back

What the Discovery Islands allow visitors to do is take a step back in time and enjoy small community living amongst nature. The area encourages visitors to get outdoors and explore and learn how unique the islands are when it comes to its intriguing culture and scenery.

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