Broughton Archipelago is BC’s largest marine park and represents a collection of undeveloped islands off North-Eastern Vancouver Island. This article gives you all the details.
Quick Park Facts
- Features: Amazing boating, kayaking and wildlife viewing; and, a great fishing, prawning and crabbing area
- Park Size: 11,751 hectares (2,061 of which is land-based, while the other 9,690 is foreshore)
- Trails: There are no developed trails in this park
- Suitability: Anyone who has a boat, canoe or kayak; or, willing to pay for a guided tour
- Hazards: This area has fairly a high concentration of bears, and since 2019 has seen an increase in Grizzly activity; Strong winds and rough water can come on quickly; No freshwater is available.
- Bike Trails: No
- Camping: There are no designated camping locations in the Broughton Archipelago (see below for more detail)
- Washrooms: Pit toilets available on Owl Island and Leon Island
- Pets: As this is a Provincial Park, dogs are not allowed on any beach and must remain on a leash at all times when on shore
A Bit of History
This marine park was established September 16, 1992 as a result of BC’s Protected Areas Strategy.
However, the islands have been utilized by First Nation’s peoples for many generations. There is significant evidence of middens consisting of large clam and mussel shell deposits along much of the islands’ shorelines. As well, on the north side of Berry Island, one can view a petroglyph. Near here, you can also view a unique rock formation known as the “Chief’s Bathtub”. Essentially it is a carved out rock that naturally fills with water at high tide, however, according to folklore, the local native chief would bath here using warmed hot stones taken from a nearby fire.
The area saw some European settlement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a few of the islands apparently have remains of homesteads, which are now completely overgrown.
Broughton Archipelago Info
People from all over the world have ventured into this marine park for its beauty and high chance of seeing wildlife, especially whales and bears. While most purchase a guided tour out of Telegraph Cove or Port McNeil, if you have your own water vessel, I highly recommended going on your own.
A multitude of small islands and islets provide visitors sheltered waters and plenty of anchorages all with an amazing backdrop of the magnificent coastal mountains and nothing but the ocean surrounding you. It’s a serene and otherworldly location one should experience in their lifetime.
There are no designated tenting spots within the park, however, kayakers tend to use either Owl Island or Leon Island as their overnight choice. The reason is mainly due to these two islands being the only ones within the marine park that have pit toilets. Please note, toilet paper is NOT supplied at the pit toilets.
If you do decide to tent overnight on one of the beaches, there is a strict “Leave no Trace” policy. And this includes “bathroom business” too. Leave everything in its place and absolutely nothing behind!
If you plan on tenting overnight on one of the undeveloped islands, please note the increase in bear activity (see below for more details). As well, there is no fresh water available, and any water you do find should be boiled or treated before drinking.
Several species of wildlife are found in this park. And the fact so many guided tours go into this area is proof the chances of seeing wildlife are high!
Although not guaranteed, it’s common to see Orcas, Humpbacks, Minke whales, harbour seals, porpoises, sea lions and sea otters. This is especially true on the parks western boundaries. As well, it’s not uncommon to see river otters, mink, raccoons, coastal black-tailed deer, and black bear along the shoreline.
Grizzlies have recently been spotted more frequently, in particular around Swanson Island, Flower Island, Crease Island, and the Village Channel corridor.
Seabirds love this protected area, and bald eagles are a very common sight within the park boundaries.
For those that want to explore the area on their own, there are a few things to note.
- As there are no roads to the park, there is also no boat launch. The nearest boat launches are located at Telegraph Cove, Alder Bay, Port McNeill, Alert Bay, Sointula, Beaver Cove and Port Hardy.
- There are no moorage buoys within the park, there are however a few good anchorage spots. I recommend reading this article by AHOY BC on the best places to anchor within the park boundaries.
- Strong winds and rough waters can pick up quite suddenly, so always be aware of weather changes. This happened to us while trying to venture down Knight Inlet, and we had a rough boat ride back!
- Dense fog can also be very common, especially during the summer months.
- If you do happen to spot whales, please remember to keep a safe distance from them. For rules and guidelines around this read: Be Whale Wise
- As waters can be shallow around the islands and islets, please use your onboard navigation maps!
Fishing is a popular activity within the park boundaries of Broughton Archipelago Provincial Marine Park. Salmon, halibut and rockfish, as well as prawning and crabbing, are all prevalent within the park. You must have an appropriate license to do so, and it’s important to note restrictions at certain times of the year. Visit the Government of Canada’s Fishing Regulations page to find out more.
The many small islands provide a relatively protected area in which to kayak. Village Channel and Indian Channel, located in the south end of the marine park are most frequented. This is most likely due to the close proximity to Telegraph Cove.
The only free map I was able to find is courtesy of Mothership Adventures, however, it’s not nearly detailed enough to use for navigation. (Neither is Google maps). There are a few places to purchase maps of the Broughton Archipelago. If venturing on your own kayaking trip, a map is highly recommended.
There are a great many companies who offer tours into Broughton Archipelago Provincial Marine Park. I will list a few of them here, but a quick Google search will give you plenty of options. I will say, however, tours to this area are not cheap!
- At the Water’s Edge Adventures – out of Telegraph Cove, this company has both kayak rentals for self-guided tours and guided tour options.
- North Island Kayak – leave from Telegraph Cove
- Maple Leaf Adventures – this Telegraph Cove company offers boat tours (sailing and motorized)
- Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures – based out of Port McNeil
- Sea Kayak Adventures – based out of Port McNeil
While you are in the area, make sure to explore these other Vancouver Island North gems.
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