Octopus Island Marine Park

Octopus Marine Park is just off of Quadra Island in the Discovery Islands, roughly northwest of Desolation Sound, between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  Quadra is surrounded by a series of tidal rapids that drain the huge tides running between Johnstone Strait in the north and the Strait of Georgia in the south.

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Peck Island in Surge Narrows at slack.

The small channels and tight passages of the Discovery Group, the inter-tidal and marine life in the tidal races and the small island parks and big bays all make for great paddling.  In addition to the marine parks and more established camping, there is no shortage of stunning spots to pull out and make yourself at home of the night.

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Rendezvous Islands looking east into Pryce Channel.

The weekend we choose just happened to have extremely low tide days so though the rapids run upwards of 12 knots in places, we never saw them in full swing.  And when we passed through Surge Narrows at slack it was glass, and it was hard to imagine its true character.  From Surge Narrows we headed north to the Octopus Group and explored the islands and the lovely Waiatt Bay.  We pitched our on a little island just outside of Hole in the Wall channel.

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First night’s campsite in Octopus Group just south of “Hole in the Wall” channel

After a wet night and a misty morning we followed a rising tide into Hole in the Wall.  The channel is also known as “back eddy channel” and there are currents moving in both directions so choose your path carefully.  It was the highlight of the trip, a narrow, steep-sided channel that is completely undeveloped.

Hole in the Wall looking north to Calm Channel

Hole in the Wall looking north to Calm Channel

You pop out on the other side into an interesting intersection of channels.  Calm channel, and Raza island at its centre, are the hub of the wheel where the mighty Bute Inlet, Pryce Channel (which carries wind and water from Toba), Ramsay Arm and other small channels all converge.   Raza is a steep and green and the geography of the mainland behind it is wild and inspiring.

Calm Channel, looking northeast into Bute Inlet.

Calm Channel, looking northeast into Bute Inlet.

We paddled south with the wind and waves towards the Rendezvous Islands which sits just north of Cortez.  They are fun to circumnavigate and there is a marine park and good camping on the southernmost island.

Second night's campsite in the Rendezvous islands.

Second night’s campsite in the Rendezvous islands.

 

 

 

 

In the morning we completed the circumnavigation of Maurelle island by paddling through Whiterock Passage.  It is narrow, but not as impressive as Hole in the Wall, and there are cabins and developments that remind you that you are on your way home and not staring down into Bute Inlet.

Sunset over Raza Island.

Sunset over Raza Island.

The Settlers Group at the mouth of Surge Narrows are lovely little islands and when the sun shines through the water they look tropical.  The water moving around the islands can be tough to paddle against, so choose your timing carefully and if necessary, just stay wide of them in more open water to avoid currents if necessary.

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Tropical looking waters around Settlers Group.

Quadra Island is accessed by ferry from Campbell River on Vancouver Island.  We then drove across the island and launched on the east side just south of Surge Narrows.

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