The Discovery Islands group, located near Campbell River, B.C., is fast becoming a mecca for sea kayakers. Boasting both sheltered waters and exciting tidal rapids, the Discovery Islands offer gorgeous scenery and excellent paddling opportunities for the beginner to advanced kayaker.
There are more than 12,000 acres of park in the Discovery Islands area and many first-rate places to disembark, such as Heriot Bay on Quadra Island and Whaletown on Cortes Island. Kayakers can choose to go on a day’s paddle or an extended camping trip. Close by the Discovery Islands, the stunning beauty of Desolation Sound and inlets of the Mainland coast awaits.
The wildlife of the Discovery Islands area never fails to amaze visitors. Kayakers may spot bald eagles, whales, sea lions, seals, and dolphins from their boats, and some fortunate paddlers report catching salmon or cod for dinner.
Sea kayaking is playing a significant role in B.C.’s adventure tourism market, with some segments of the kayak industry growing at about 15% per year. To fulfill the growing interest, several businesses have opened on the Discovery Islands over the past decade, some of them just this year.
Coast Mountain Expeditions, based on Read Island, has been operating since 1987. Ralph and Lannie Keller moved to Read in 1979, where they built their island homestead and small waterfront lodge. With a background in wilderness guiding and an eagerness to share the beauty of the area, the Kellers opened their business. Now in their 12th season, they offer scheduled and custom sea kayaking experiences for all ages and abilities.
“We’ve tried to give people a real environmental appreciation for this area. Another thing that’s happened is we’ve realized how profound an effect a wilderness experience can have on people. The experience of being in the wilderness at its elemental level has been very rewarding for our guests and it has been wonderful for us to share this place. And kayaking is such a great way to get around on the water,” said Lannie.
The Kellers provide transportation to and from Heriot Bay in their 32-foot passenger vessel, Chico Mendes. Some of their offerings include a sauna by the creek, homestyle cooking featuring fresh seafoods and garden produce, and a focus on the development of skills and self-confidence.
Christine Portman and John Waibel opened their Quadra based kayaking business, Spirit of the West Adventures, this past May.