A group of small islands near Quadra make up the beautiful Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park. This park is only accessible by boat and offers safe and protected anchorages, plus a wonderful spot to swim and kayak.
Quick Park Facts
- Features: Protected anchorage; kayaking destination; marine accessible camping spots
- Park Size: 762 hectares
- Trails: No developed trails
- Suitability: Only accessible to boaters
- Hazards: There are powerful tidal currents around Quadra Island, especially at Surge Narrows. See more information below.
- Bike Trails: none
- Camping: No designated campsites, but boat-in wilderness camping is allowed
- Washrooms: no facilities of any kind
- Pets: As this is a Provincial Park, dogs must remain on a leash at all times when onshore
A Bit of History
Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park was established in 1974 but continues to grow in size thanks to the BC Marine Parks Forever Society. This society advocates for and financially supports the creation, expansion and/or enhancement of BC Marine Parks. Since 2004, private donors made a total contribution of $783,000, specifically for Octopus Island PMP, and a significant expansion of the area was able to be made.
The area has significant historical values as well, for the islands were heavily used by First Nations people long before the park was established. Archeological researchers who studied the area found culturally constructed clam gardens along the shore. It’s also thought that the portage route between this park and Small Inlet PP, found on the west side of Quadra Island, was also used by Indigenous peoples.
The park protects a fragile Coastal Western Hemlock ecosystem and a habitat for harbour seals, harbour porpoises, marine invertebrates, groundfish, salmon, and, yes, octopus.
Visiting Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park
Octopus Islands is part of the BC Marine Trail Association network, which provides a series of resting areas and safe havens designed for boaters and kayakers. This park, in particular, provides a marine experience for those travelling the Inside Passage.
Recreational activities at this park include a safe spot for an ocean swim, kayaking around the bays and inlets to view wildlife, hiking along the portage trail mentioned above, and even free wilderness camping opportunities. Due to the abundance of ocean wildlife, I can imagine this area would be a fantastic spot to scuba dive.
If you decide to camp on the beach, please follow the “Leave No Trace” rules. This means that everything you bring to the beach leaves with you, including human waste! While best practices are not to have campfires, use only driftwood found on the beach if you do. Also, make sure your fire is below the high tide line, and upon leaving, ensure there is no visual evidence of your fire left.
Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park is located off the northeast side of Quadra Island and at the southern tip of Sonora Island. Essentially, it’s in Okisollo Channel at the junction of Quadra, Sonora and Maurelle Islands. Boaters can reference marine charts #3537 and #3539 for more information about this area.
We launched our boat in Campbell River and made our way to the north end of Quadra Island and ducked into Okisollo Channel from there.
If you go this route, you’ll be travelling along Seymour Narrows. This is a particularly tricky section as the current can roar through the narrows at 16 knots. It’s best to transit through the area at slack tide. However, boaters should be prepared and know how to maneuver through strong currents before attempting.
If you head south out of the park, you come to Surge Narrows. Although this section can also be quite turbulent and can run fast, it’s less so than Seymour Narrows and is a much shorter section of powerful currents. It’s also a wonderful place to see. However, to get back to where you launched your boat, you’ll still need to travel through Seymour Narrows.
Have you been to this stunning area? Let us know about your experience in the comment section below.
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