Gulf Islands

Aug 5th, 2004, 02:29 PM
  #1  
R
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Gulf Islands

Noticed a posting by 'BowenLinda' on another thread, saying she *especially* likes the North Gulf Islands.

We've been to SaltSpring...Galiano (briefly) & Mayne. (southern Gulf Islands)
Might have a couple of days to add in an island on a trip we're thinking of taking in late Sept to Vancouver Island.

We'll be focusing in on Tofino...and, the Telegraph Cove area. We might try to fit in time too, for Port Alberni area or the Broken Group Islands. (not sure we'll be able to or have time for that Lady Rose boat)

At some point, we could add 2 nights to a Gulf Island. Would love feedback on whether you think the northern Gulf Islands are something we should try, since we'll be further north this time, than usual??
Or, should we stick w/what we *know* we enjoy already...?

This will be our first time, btw, to Tofino & the Port McNeill/Telegraph Cove areas.
Noted that Desolation Sound was mentioned here, too, as highly recommended! I'll need to read more on that...as that hasn't crossed my reading much yet. Thanks again!


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Aug 5th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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Gulf Islands first-at that time accommodations will be readily available so why not wait and see-no need for fast & firm decisions now.
Personally I find the Northern Gulf Islands somewhat underwhelming but seeing as how the yearly marijuana harvest should be on you're going at an 'interesting' time

Desolation Sound can only be accessed by boat-unless you find a cruise heading up late in the season you'll be out of luck.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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I can't imagine anyone not liking the northern Gulf Islands - but there you are - and it's not got anything to do with an alternative cash crop (which probably has a higher output in Surrey or the Sunshine Coast).

My two favourites are Quadra Island and Hornby Island. Great kayaking, fishing, hiking, beaches, local arts, food, etc. Take a look at www.bcferries.com for maps and schedules.

On Quadra, we've stayed several times at Taku Resort, opposite Rebecca Spit, and really enjoy it. We toured Seascape Resort and would definitely give that a try next time.

Hornby has more limited accommodation: few resorts, more B&B's, and lots of home rentals (which we've done). Take a look at www.hornbyisland.net/accommodation.html

Both of these islands (as all the Gulf Islands) are extremely popular so you'd want to make a reservation quickly.

The Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound is unbelievably beautiful, and we'd like to return for an extended stay (my husband sailed there and back from Vancouver, and the kids and I joined him by ferry). You can access it by taking the M.V. Lady Rose or the Francis Barkley from Port Alberni down the Port Alberni Inlet or from Ucluelet, just south of Tofino (check their schedules by googling www.ladyrosemarine.com/ ). I've been on both boats, and a variety of runs, and we found it to be really special.

The Broken Group is great for kayaking, boating, and fishing. If you're not into those activities, you would probably be able to tour the little and very charming town of Bamfield in an hour. I've gone up and down the Inlet in one day, and that's tiring (they are long runs).

The southern Gulf Islands are great, too, but I prefer the northern set.

Some thoughts...

Linda
BowenLinda is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 11:26 AM
  #4  
 
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We stayed on Quadra a couple of years ago, at Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge. We loved it. On our last day there we were right near the ferry dock and noticed a new hotel being renovated - I wish I could remember the name of it, but it's right at the dock as you drive off the ferry. It looked very pleasant; the owner saw us looking and gave us a tour. We went on a boat tour with a guide from the local First Nations community - this was arranged via a link from the Tsa-Kwa-Luten website. Gloriously beautiful place and friendly people. We intend to go back.
Meesthare is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 04:58 PM
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Meesthare, I think you're referring to Whiskey Point Lodge at Quathiaski Cove. Our family stayed there, oh, some ten years ago and it was nice. I think, though, to really enjoy Quadra you need to get out and see the Island, and one of the other resorts would be my first choice.

The First Nation Museum at the reserve is simple but beautiful and moving, and I recommend it.

Our family will include Rebecca Spit on our sailing trip next week, and I'm really looking forward to revisiting Quadra.

L
BowenLinda is offline  
Aug 8th, 2004, 01:20 AM
  #6  
R
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Wow! Thanks to all.
Now I have more research & choices to make! Hmmm...had thought we'd re-visit our 'usual' Gulf places...
but, one only has so much time, & perhaps it's time to explore a northern one, based on these very positive reviews! (esp. since we're heading up island at some point to see Telegraph Cove & probably do some bear watching/orcas watching)

I'm wondering if I could ask...Linda...
it would be easier for us, probably to stay put in Tofino for 4-5 nights as part of our trip. (due to us driving so much to even reach this region)

That being said...did you notice a big difference on the sailings through the Broken Group Islands...coming from Port Alberni vs. Ucluelet? Was one far more scenic a route? Perhaps they are identical in what they cover, etc. ?

Is it worth it for us to overnight in Port Alberni or Bamfield?? (sounds intriguing, but...?)

Since U. is so convenient to Tofino...that might be the easier way for us to get a glimpse of the Broken Group Islands.
However, I wonder if we should go via the Lady Rose or some smaller day outing kind of company? Sigh...
lots more to figure out still!
But, at least, it's a happy kind of research...something my hubby & I are in sore need of! (after health worries the last few years)

Appreciate your input everyone!
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Aug 8th, 2004, 01:58 AM
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I've never stayed overnight on Hornby Island but with its sandy beaches and interesting sandstone formations, plus the three mile loop trail at Helliwell Park (particularly nice in springtime) with fir, oak, arbutus and pine trees, open grassland and sheer-drop bluffs, it would be in my top five favourite spots to visit in these parts.
April is offline  
Aug 8th, 2004, 02:53 PM
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R,

"Did you notice a big difference on the sailings through the Broken Group Islands...coming from Port Alberni vs. Ucluelet?"

Both runs are very scenic, but different. You'll see from the web site that the runs differ per the day of the week. The Port Alberni-Bamfield run can be 4.5 - 5.5 hrs long, with a couple of stops along the way. You ferry down the very long Port Alberni Inlet - heavy evergreen vegetation, wildlife (we saw bears, deer, seals, eagles, etc). You stop briefly at Sechart Lodge to allow for those visitors to disembark, then off through the Broken Group to Bamfield. Many small islands - gorgeous. Ucluelet to, say, Sechart is 1.5 hours. You run through the open ocean side, west through the Pinkerton Islands into the Broken Group to Sechart Lodge. Because of the schedules, only one way (P. Alberni to Sechart or Bamfield or Ucluelet OR the reverse) is really doable - otherwise you're on the vessel for 11 hours or so. You'd want to stop off at either Sechart or Bamfield for the night, and in light of your timeframe, return the next morning. I'd suggest Sechart Lodge - prearrange a guided kayak tour for a half day, have dinner and a sleep-over, return the next day.

"Perhaps they are identical in what they cover, etc. ?"

Not identical. Throw the town of Ucluelet, its harbour and the open ocean for that trip. Throw in working bases along the Alberni Inlet and a long vista of evergreen scenery for that trip. Both beautiful.

"Is it worth it for us to overnight in Port Alberni or Bamfield?"

You HAVE to overnight in Port Alberni area as the freighter leaves at 7 am. Small motels/hotels nearby.

I don't know about Bamfield - we stayed several nights aboard our sailboat. Probably B&B's - try googling Bamfield. Just a note: Bamfield is a charming, very small, working town: a couple of diners or the pub for dinner, that's about it. Bamfield is one end of the West Coast Trail so you always see some weary hikers triumphantly walking about. Bamfield is also home to a federal government (I think) marine scientific research centre.

"Since U. is so convenient to Tofino...that might be the easier way for us to get a glimpse of the Broken Group Islands."

I agree, since presumably you'll have a rental car for Tofino and just a few days for Tofino and area (?). There are lots of whale watching/sea touring companies out of Ucluelet that will take you, at least, on the periphery of the Broken Group. Discuss it with them and perhaps request a toot through the area. OR stay at Sechart Lodge for one night and do the guided kayak tour. Even if you don't kayak, bring your book and relax. Watch the kayakers and boaters. (I heartily suggest this one - there is no hydro in this area - the Lodge uses generators. At sunset, it is scenically stunning, quiet, and, I think, very special.

April, I agree with you about Hornby - if we could relocate there, we would in a heartbeat. We also like Quadra but it definitely has a different feel - more fishing, logging, larger population. We are so lucky to have these choices!

Cheers,
Linda
BowenLinda is offline  
Aug 8th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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I like Quadra too, Linda, but as you say, it's quite different than Hornby.
April is offline  
Aug 8th, 2004, 06:29 PM
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Linda, you're right, it was Whiskey Point that we looked at on Quadra. I would agree that the whole point of being there is to get out and see the island, and the surrounding area. That's why we enjoyed the boat trip so much. They took us to Seymour Narrows as well as a number of other interesting spots. The reason I mentioned the harbourside accommodation, though, was that the new owners seemed so pleasant (they had just bought the place) and it seemed like a lovely and reasonably-priced place to stay.
Meesthare is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 12:18 AM
  #11  
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Okay...
many, many thanks again to everyone!
Such detailed & helpful info & input. Sounds like Hornby is DEFINITELY somethin' we'll need to look into more.

And, now I'm wanting to dedicate a night or two or three to the Port Alberni/Bamfield option. From what I gathered from Linda here, it sort of sounded like there was a slight preference for the route from Port A.
through the islands vs. the route from Ucluelet.

The open ocean way might also be a bit more rough? (depending on how much of that you're in)
It was a little tough for me to get everything this late at night...as far as the routing options...

haven't been able to do more research yet on this, as we have friends in town...staying w/this whole weekend ('til tomorrow).

Hence, forgive me for the lack of educating myself since your last postings! Hope to soon be more up to speed.

I've held open the option to maybe do Port Alberni/Bamfield...for a while now...
but, had almost eliminated that,
thinking maybe we should just stay put for longer in Tofino (to rest up a bit) & then, focus maybe 3 nights in Telegraph Cove to do wildlife outings & perhaps add on Alert Bay, too.

Now, we'll need to re-think the way we break up our stay after learning more about Hornby & also the Lady Rose's trips.

'Course we are thinking later in Sept. so perhaps the weather will be too risky for the Lady Rose outing? (too grey to appreciate?)

Then again, you've all said Sept can be quite lovely! (even later in the month) So, we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Oh & btw, we won't be renting a car, but once again turning our hybrid Prius out onto the open road...
covering many, many miles between home & the Northwest. (Right now, just not flying due to health issues.) Altho' the drive can be a bit long at times...
it *does* permit us to see things in a whole new way, which we'd gotten away from w/all the flying most of us do these days! Anyway, appreciate all your assistance here.
Have a great week, everyone!

R is offline  
Aug 9th, 2004, 07:23 PM
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Hi R,

Too many great places to visit, even for we native BCers.

If I were you, I'd base my decision on the number of vacation days. Strongly suggest a minimum of 3 nights for the Tofino area. Not sure how many days you're allocating for Telegraph Cove and a Gulf Island.

I think your dilemma re the Broken Group is your number of days and your vehicle: you wouldn't want to freighter down the P. Alberni Inlet to, say, Sechart Lodge, stay one night and then freighter back the next day. That's about 9 or 10 hours sitting on a freighter over two days (I have done it to pick up kids but I wouldn't suggest it). You also wouldn't want to go P. Alberni to Sechart to Ucluelet because your car will be sitting at P. Alberni. The reverse applies as well (Ucluelet - Sechart - P. Alberni.)

These are working freighters that have run for many, many years and they run in any weather.

If you have 1 or 2 days OVER AND ABOVE the 3 nights at Tofino, I'd recommend taking the Ucluelet to Sechart Lodge run IF THE WEATHER IS GOOD, stay overnight, and return to Ucluelet the next day. Each run is 1.5 hours, so they are not too long. It does require some last minute booking (re checking the long range forecast) but I'm guessing you will be okay for both the freighter and the Sechart Lodge. I'd telephone both and ask them.

Cheers,
Linda

Late September is a wonderful touring month in B.C. but
BowenLinda is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 12:31 AM
  #13  
R
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Linda,
Since it's late tonight,
I'll try to write up a rough itinerary & post it here tomorrow for your feedback. (and anyone else willing to give final suggestions)

Oooo! And, also, I was wondering about your P.S.? It seems like it got cut off. Anyway, we do have 4-5 nights we could spend in Tofino.
So, it sounds like you're recommending just 3? (in favor of 2 dedicated towards the Lady Rose option)

More details to follow.
Thanks again *so* much!!
R is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Hi, R, I hope I'm not confusing you: my suggestion in my last post was that you stay AT LEAST 3 nights in Tofino. If you have more time (as it seems you have), certainly stay more time there if you wish (and I could spend an entire summer there - lots to see and do). However if you think you might want an easy diversion, take the Ucluelet - Sechart freighter. Do a guided kayak tour or sit on the dock with a picnic lunch. Return to Ucluelet that day (but check the schedules carefully) or stay the night at Sechart Lodge. Easy peasy.

My unedited postscript meant to say that September is a wonderful time of year to tour this area (kids back at school, fewer crowds) but that the weather will obviously be changing. This doesn't pose any problem for staying in Tofino but, if you are fair weather sailors, the Ucluelet/Broken Group waters could be choppy/stormy. Talk to the Lady Rose folk. If it's too choppy for you, don't go and enjoy another day or two on land.

Cheers,
L


BowenLinda is offline  
Aug 11th, 2004, 12:49 PM
  #15  
R
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Thanks, Linda!
I'm at work now, so will post more later. Am going to try to find time tonight to discuss possible routing w/hubby in the evening.
'Til then, Rosemary
R is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 01:13 AM
  #16  
R
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Hi, guys! Haven't gotten much further w/our planning.
It's not as easy as I'd hoped! (esp. w/all our many ferry options to even begin & end our trip)

So many choices!
Will write when I know more.
Will either post here, or begin a new thread. I noticed that Sam earlier in this thread...said we might not need to tie ourselves down yet to a particular Gulf Island.

I'm wondering if that's the case, in general, for a trip in later Sept. (Sept 20th or later)? It might help us a bit, if we don't have to lock in...and can leave at least a few nights 'flexible'...have some 'wild card' days, in a way.

However, to go without *any* reservations sounds kinda risky...
and, usually ends up NOT being a great advantage, but something that causes us to waste a lot of needless time while on the road. (we've tried it before) ;-)

Will send more details later.
Thanks again!!! - Rosemary
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