Showcasing the only true example of fjordland on the Pacific coast, it’s no wonder Princess Louisa Inlet has been proclaimed by many the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Waterfall after waterfall cascade down sheer rock walls leaving mossy peaks and lush green forests in their wake. The area is truly the gem of BC’s Sunshine Coast.
A Bit of History
In 1927, James F. “Mac” MacDonald purchased 45 acres of land at the head of the inlet and built a log cabin. He became the unofficial laird, custodian and guardian of Princess Louisa Inlet. And for years, Mac offered hospitality to any visitor to the area.
“This beautiful, peaceful haven should never belong to one individual… I have felt that I was only the custodian of the property for Nature and it has been my duty to extend every courtesy.”James F. “Mac” MacDonald
In 1953, he deeded his property to the boaters of the Pacific Northwest in hopes that the natural beauty of the area remained unspoiled. To maintain the perpetual trust, the non-profit Princess Louisa International Society was formed.
In 1965, the entire inlet was declared a recreation area by BC Parks. With Mac’s blessing, the property was turned over to the Parks Department and turned into a Provincial Marine Park. The Princess Louisa International Society continues to play an active role in the conservation and management of the park.
For a deep dive into the history of Mac and the Inlet, read: Mac and The Princess: The Story of Princess Louisa Inlet.
“The head of Princess Louisa Inlet is one of the most lovely, outstanding, spectacular beauty spots in the world. It is Yosemite Valley, the Fjords of Norway and many other places all wrought into the background of our conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest.“James F. “Mac” MacDonald
The Marine Park and Chatterbox Falls
The spectacular marine park contains mooring buoys, stern pins, a boat dock and an airplane float. It also has a ranger cabin (occupied late June – September), a few campsites, picnic shelter and pit-toilets.
Other than the amazing scenery, one of the main draws to the area is the spectacular Chatterbox Falls.
At the mooring dock, head up the ramp into the lush forest and follow the 800-meter boardwalk and trail to get closer to the roaring falls. In June especially, the powerful water spray will leave you quite wet! The best view of the falls, however, is either from the water or on the beach.
There are 4 bare ground tent sites with a picnic table at each. These are located just above the high tide line along the edge of the forest. There is 1 communal fire pit for the tent sites. Water is available from taps at the main dock and from 1 tap behind the Macdonald Memorial Shelter. The water isn’t potable, however, and must be boiled to consume.
On nearby MacDonald Island (closer to the entrance of Princess Louisa Inlet), there are four bare ground tent sites. Only two have picnic tables and there is only one pit toilet for all.
Best Time to Go
Late Spring and Summer are the best times to visit Princess Louisa Inlet. In June, as the warm sun starts melting the mountain snow-pack, it creates more than sixty waterfalls that cascade down the sheer rock walls. Although many are seasonal, a few remain throughout the entire summer, including Chatterbox Falls.
Tours of Princess Louisa Inlet
This is a Marine Park, so the area is only accessible via boat or floatplane. There are, however, a few places that offer tours. Other than Sunshine Coast Air, all of them leave out of Egmont.
Resorts near Egmont
- Backeddy Resort & Marina (has great tour/stay packages and is located right in Egmont)
- Pender Harbour Resort & Marina (located in Garden Bay)
- Sunshine Coast Resort (located in Madeira Park)
- Enchanter Oceanview Suites (Madeira Park)
- Rockwater Secret Cove Resort (located in Halfmoon Bay)
If you are looking for a place your entire family can enjoy, the Sunshine Coast has many vacation rental options.
Self-Guided Adventure to Princess Louisa Inlet
If you have your own boat, getting to Princess Louisa Inlet from Vancouver Island is doable as a day trip (albeit a long day). And exactly what we did this past Father’s Day.
The only entrance to the Marine Park is through the Straight of Georgia by way of Jervis Inlet, which is located across the water from Texada Island.
The easiest and closest access point to the south end of Texada is launching your boat at either Schooner Cove in Nanoose Bay, or French Creek Marina in Parksville.
The ride across the Straight of Georgia can oftentimes be a bit rough, but once you near Texada, things usually start to settle down. The ride from Texada to the head of Jervis Inlet (Agamemnon Channel) on the Sunshine Coast is a bit more protected, so the water more smooth.
The trip from Schooner Cove or French Creek Marina to the head of Jervis Inlet is approximately 22 nautical miles.
Jervis Inlet / Agamemnon Channel
At the north end of Agamemnon Channel, to your right will be Egmont. This is the last location that offers fuel so be sure that you can make the round trip!
The Backeddy Resort & Marina provides fuel, moorage, dining and accommodations. It is a great pitstop to refuel not only your boat but your body too 😉 .
Continuing your travel through Jervis Inlet you will pass by other beautiful areas with their own natural delights. This includes Prince of Whales Reach and Princess Royal Reach. Both offer incredible scenery and even a few delightful waterfalls.
The following map is for convenience only and courtesy of Princess Louisa International Society. It is by no means meant as a navigational tool. Please use proper navigating charts and boating/sailing directions when making the trek.
At the head of Princess Louisa Inlet, and 32 miles from Egmont, lies Malibu
Rapids. Due to strong currents, the rapids should be entered at or near slack
tide. High-water slack is most preferable because it allows extra room for navigating the narrow passage.
Due to limited visibility of boats entering the narrow channel from the
other side of the rapids, it is recommended to announce your approach using VHF 16.
The beautiful resort located at the head of the rapids is the Malibu Club. It was originally developed as a luxury resort for the rich and famous by Tom Hamilton. After only 5 years (from 1945 – 1950), the dream ended due to not being a profitable business and the resort was left abandoned.
In 1953, Young Life Camp purchased the property to use for its youth summer camps and as operated it ever since.
Once across the rapids, the Inlet is amazingly calm and showcases jaw dropping scenery with every head swivel. The inlet itself is only 8 km long.
To respect the serenity of this remote location, there is a speed limit of 4 knots. And in order to keep the place in pristine condition, you are also asked to keep all sewage inside your holding tanks while inside the Inlet.
“There is a calm tranquility which stretches from the smooth surface of the reflecting water straight up into infinity. The deep calm of eternal silences is only disturbed by the muffled roar of throbbing waterfalls as they plunge down from sheer cliffs. There is no scenery in the world that can beat it. Not that I’ve seen the rest of the world. I don’t need to, I’ve seen Princess Louisa Inlet.”Erle Stanley Gardner, “Log of a Landlubber”
It’s one of those places that leaves you in awe, but also kind of smug knowing that you have something this beautiful and accessible so close to home. There’s no doubt about it, we truly do live in one of the best places on earth.
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My wife and I flew in to Chatterbox Falls with our best friends two years ago. The area is completely “magical”. There is so much to see. Our flight from Pat Bay to the Park and back was phenomenal. There is so much beauty along the coast. For anyone that has sailed into the area, I envy them. That, too, would be the trip of a lifetime. Thank you Carol, Cliff and beautiful BC.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I envy the flight with your birds eye view!! Both would be an incredible way to see the area. I am so glad you got to see it.