British Columbia’s Desolation Sound Marine Park is a remote and pristine haven, nestled just 90 miles north of Vancouver. Accessible only by boat or floatplane, it remains a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts, particularly during the quieter off-season months of September through October and May to early July. During these times, Desolation Sound truly lives up to its name as a wilderness untouched by the modern world.
A Desolation Transformed
Desolation Sound’s dramatic name originates from Captain George Vancouver’s 1792 voyage through these deep waters. He found the land to be seemingly desolate, as the region’s rocky soil couldn’t support farming. Today, however, it’s a thriving wilderness, particularly during spring and fall when wildlife flourishes.
One significant transformation has been the resurgence of whales. Humpbacks and orcas have returned to the area, thanks to the cessation of harmful whaling practices. As a result, whale sightings, once rare, are now relatively common! Additionally, Desolation Sound is witnessing a boom in its sea otter population. These otters, which were once hunted to near extinction, are now thriving and providing a new dimension to the region’s rich biodiversity.
The Desolation Secret
Desolation Sound attracts those who wish to escape the fast-paced world. Migrating summer boaters often seek refuge here, anchoring their vessels and seeking the solace of the untamed wilderness.
Besides a new restaurant in Refuge Cove, an Indigenous lodge in Toba Inlet, and a glamping site on Kinghorn Island, very little changes in Desolation Sound. Nature, ruled by the tides and weather, reclaims its territory with every changing season. Visitors may experience a northwest wind, rain pattering on the cabin at night, and the following morning revealing a pristine blue sky at the edge of the continent.
Experiencing Desolation Sound
The return of salmon for spawning, as well as the arrival of migrating birds, signals the changing seasons. Captain Colin Griffinson, owner-operator of the Pacific Yellowfin, an expedition yacht, suggests that the ideal time to visit Desolation Sound is during these quieter months. Join an expedition on a 1912 tugboat or a 12-person catamaran for a visit there.
Maple Leaf Adventures offers breathtaking trips on vessels such as the 1912 tugboat Swell and the Cascadia catamaran, based in Desolation Sound during October. Or, you can even opt for a thrilling experience at the 114-foot classic wooden yacht at Pacific Yellowfin. It offers charter expeditions in the area and the guests enjoy chef-prepared meals along with the chance to see grizzly bears, sea lions, eagles, humpbacks, and orcas.