The unspoiled coastal village of Tahsis is situated at the head of Tahsis Inlet, a deep fjord on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island that cuts northwards off Nootka Sound.
Tahsis offers access to numerous wilderness hiking trails, and some of the best ocean kayaking on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The area is known for offering world-class sportfishing as massive runs of salmon migrate down the west of British Columbia to their spawning grounds in coastal streams and rivers.
The picturesque and versatile west coast village offers a wide range of accommodation, a full-service marina and a safe, friendly small town atmosphere that boasts a fascinating blend of history lessons and outdoor adventures. Some of the most rugged and breathtaking scenery in Canada is located right on the doorstep of Tahsis, spawning a growing tourism industry that promises to make a significant contribution to the local economy, alongside fishing and forestry.
Except for the fur trade, this part of British Columbia remained unchanged until the early 1900s, when logging was introduced. This forestry community started as a floating logging camp in the 1940s, which later became a permanent on-shore camp. In the 1950s Tahsis expanded, and a bustling village took shape. The road from Tahsis to Gold River was opened to the public in 1972, attracting new families.
Wildlife abounded in the area back then, as it still does now, including black bear, wolves, cougars, Roosevelt elk and coastal black-tailed deer. Visitors marvel at the sea lions and whales that are common in the waters of Nootka Sound, and sea otters can also be seen. The area also supports one of the largest bald eagle populations in North America.
Tahsis takes its name from a Mowachaht word, Tashees, meaning “gateway or passage”. The Mowachahts, whose winter home was here, used the valleys of the Tahsis and Nimpkish Rivers as their route for trade with aboriginal people on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The area has been home to First Nations people for over 6,000 years. In 1778, just 19 sea miles south of Tahsis at Friendly Cove, Captain James Cook landed on the coast of British Columbia to initiate the first contact between Europeans and the aboriginal people, and claim the area for King George III of England. Fourteen years later, Captain George Vancouver of England and Governor Bodega Y Quadra of Spain met at Tahsis with the Mowachaht Chief, Maquinna, to settle the international dispute over ownership of the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California.
Location: Tahsis is located 40 miles (63.5 km) northwest of Gold River, and can be reached by water, road and air. From the Pacific Ocean, you can reach the village of Tahsis by way of Nootka Sound into Tahsis Inlet. To reach Tahsis by road from the Island Highway 19, travel west on Highway 28 from Campbell River, through Strathcona Provincial Park, to Gold River. From Gold River, follow the signs for approximately 40 miles (64 km) to the northwest on a gravel road through beautiful mountain passes to Tahsis. You will be driving on active logging roads, some stretches of which have steep grades of up to 14%, so caution is required. By air, there are regularly scheduled float plane services from Gold River, a charter service out of Campbell River, and a helipad near the head of Tahsis Inlet.
Tree to Sea Drive: The road from Gold River to Tahsis features waterfalls, rivers, lakes, wildlife-viewing areas, picnic sites, and many scenic vistas. The road is 40 miles (64km) of well-maintained gravel road suitable for all vehicles. Four wheel drive is only required after heavy winter snowfalls. Bull Lake Summit is the highest point on the road, at 586 metres (1,922 feet). In summer the road serves as the route for the Great Walk.
Stops worth visiting en route include Cala Falls, Upana Caves, Painted Rock Lookout, Conuma River Hatchery, Moutcha Bay, Head Bay, Three Sisters Waterfall, Malaspina Lake, and President’s Tree. Conuma Peak Viewpoint provides a view of 1481-metre (4,860-feet) Conuma Peak. Look for the ‘Needles Eye” hole through the peak. A marked trail takes you to the tree line on the mountainside. You can also stop at the Conuma River Estuary Viewpoint, located 2.4 km from the Conuma River Hatchery towards Tahsis.
Three Sisters Waterfalls can be viewed from the roadside between Head Bay and Tahsis. The falls originate on Malaspina Peak, falling from a height of 5,200 feet, and are most dominant during the spring runoff. The water flows into the Sucwoa River, thereby enhancing the return of native salmon fish stocks.
President’s Tree, also called ‘The Big Tree’, is a huge Douglas Fir tree over 300 years old, and known to many as the ‘Welcome Home’ mat for people driving to Tahsis. The tree was set aside and dedicated to Tahsis Company president Jack Christensen in 1970.
Flightseeing: Take a floatplane sightseeing tour of the Rugged Mountain Glacier, Rugged Point Marine Provincial Park, historic Yuquot (Friendly Cove), and crystal clear secluded mountain lakes. Visit remote beaches, escape to a remote fishing camp, or take a seaplane charter to Hot Springs Cove on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where you can relax in the natural rock pools.
The Conuma River Fish Hatchery is operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the Conuma River at the head of Tlupana Inlet, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Tahsis. The hatchery is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm, with the best salmon viewing from late September through October. Chinook salmon spawn in late September, and coho and chum in October and November. Stop at the Conuma River estuary viewpoint en route, located 2.4 km from the hatchery towards Tahsis. Fish are reared for release into the Conuma, Tlupana, Canton, Sucwoa, Deserted, and Artlish Rivers. The Tahsis Salmon Enhancement Society also operates a fish hatchery in Tahsis, rearing Coho and Chinook Salmon for release into nearby rivers.
The Tahsis Recreation Centre offers facilities for swimming and bowling, a weight room and gym, a kids’ centre, and a Surf Den that enables residents and visitors to connect to the world via the internet. Planning an Event in Tahsis? The community centre also provides facilities for all occasions, from formal weddings to afternoon birthday parties. Recreational activities can also be booked for the gymnasium.
Rugged Mountain Glacier offers excellent heli-skiing and heli-snowboarding, and Rugged Mountain itself offers great hiking and a challenging climb. Other mountain climbing spots are Malaspina Peak (1,579 m/5,179 ft), a multi-summit rock peak 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Tahsis, and east of Tahsis are Mt. Alava (1,550 m/5,084 ft) and Mt Bate (1,680 m/5,500 ft).
Westview Marina in Tahsis is the centre of activity at the head of Tahsis Inlet, with a friendly staff always ready to help and provide moorage to boaters cruising the endless waterways on the island’s west coast. The Annual Westview Marina Fishing Derby takes place the 3rd weekend of August with anglers competiting for thousands of dollars in prizes. Past winners have hauled in Chinook salmon that tipped the scales at over 40lbs.
Boat Launch: A public boat launch is located at the Government dock, along with vehicle and trailer parking, storage, a sani dump, and public washrooms. Tahsis boat launch is fairly shallow and subject to winds, so plan an early-morning launch.
Take part in June’s Great Walk, an incredible 40 miles (63.5 km) from Gold River to Tahsis – easily North America’s toughest walkathon! The pledge trek along the Head Bay Service Road linking the two communities is sponsored by the Tahsis Lions Club, and attracts about 1,100 participants to this beautiful and remote part of Vancouver Island.
Community Events are held in Tahsis throughout the summer – check with the Visitor Centre for more information. Two events already mentioned are the annual fishing derby in August and the Great Walk in June. Tahsis Days is the main festival in the village, held annually on the third weekend in July. The entire village celebrates a weekend of fun for the whole family. Events include a parade, duck race, raft race, scavenger hunt, and a dance.
Explore the outside waters aboard the M.V. Uchuck III, a former World War II minesweeper that makes a weekly two-day round-trip voyage from Gold River to Tahsis and the fishing hamlet of Kyuquot in Kyuquot Sound. Visitors are able to experience this westcoast wilderness at its best. Shorter day trips aboard the Uchuck III include the Tahsis Day Trip, which departs every Tuesday year-round. This trip will take you through Nootka Sound to Tahsis (about five hours one way), with stops as required to deliver passengers and cargo at logging camps and settlements. A one-hour stop in Tahsis allows enough time for a walking tour of the village.
Caving: Some of this landscape’s mysteries lie tucked away inside the vaulted domes of underground caverns. Join a guided expedition through some of the most amazing caves on Vancouver Island, from popular caves to unexplored and perhaps even undiscovered caves! Coral Cave is a medium/difficult cave located above Tahsis, accessible by a short hike to the large cave entrance. Designated a Wildlife Habitat area to protect rare bats, the Weymer Caves are rather extensive, and explorers should be accompanied by an experienced guide. On the road between Gold River and Tahsis are the Upana Caves.
Fishing: Some of the best saltwater fishing in the world is available in local waters, including Nuchatlitz Inlet, Esperanza Inlet, and Nootka Sound. These waters are surrounded by steep fjord-like inlets that provide miles upon miles of totally protected waters for fishing enjoyment. Anglers can also venture out to the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Nootka Island.
Fishing is excellent for salmon, halibut, flounder, rockfish (rock cod, red snapper), and ling cod. Crabs, prawns, shrimp, oysters and clams are also readily available. Oysters are available in many areas, including the Tsowwin River delta, and prawns are common throughout the northern part of Tahsis Inlet. Charter operators are available, or you can rent a boat to fish and explore the beautiful scenery on your own.
The fishing season ranges from late May to late August. Spring salmon are caught from August, winter springs in late March, and Halibut most months other than December (common in the Nuchatlitz area). Various fishing derbys are held throughout the year. There is plenty of fising for freshwater anglers too, as many of the mountain lakes in the area abound with trout.
Camping: The Leiner River Recreation Site is a small 8-unit treed campsite along the Leiner River, east of town. The popular site provides easy access to the Leiner River, good swimming holes, and a small beach. West Bay Park, located adjacent to the seashore south of Tahsis town, has six campsites and two beautiful hiking trails.
Hiking: Hike along miles of unspoiled surf-washed ocean beaches or rugged mountain peaks and ridges in untamed wilderness. The West Bay Recreation Trail provides 2 km of hiking trail through the forest and along Tahsis Inlet, with access to the western shoreline of the inlet. The Ceepeecee Lake Recreation Trail is a 1.5-km hike down to the lake, and then along the lakeshore of Ceepeecee Lake, named after the Canadian Packing Corporation (CPC). Coral Cave Recreation Trail is a short hike to the large entrance to Coral Cave above Tahsis to the north. The Leiner River Estuary Boardwalk provides access to the Leiner River estuary and good bird watching from the 1.5 kilometres of trails, boardwalks and viewing platforms.
The Nootka Island Trail on Nootka Island rambles between Louie Bay on the north side of Nootka Island and Yuquot (Friendly Cove) on the south. Along the way, the 22-mile (35-km) trail crosses exquisite beaches and tidal shelves, as well as leading inland to bypass rocky headlands and deep river mouths.
Sea Kayaking adventures guarantee paddling at its best; isolated and remote coastline, beautiful campsites, magnificent sunsets, and an abundance of wildlife. Tahsis is an excellent launch point for paddling Tahsis Inlet, Esperanza Inlet or Nootka Sound. Tahsis water taxis will take you to Nootka Island or gorgeous islands in the Nutchatlitz area. Kayakers wishing to explore the remote waterways and inlets can book space for themselves and their kayak aboard the MV Uchuck 111. The vessel will unload kayakers in remote areas with arrangements made for a scheduled pick up.
Golf: Golfers can head to the Golf River Golf & Country Club to enjoy the wildlife, the mountainous terrain, and the sparkling Gold River when playing the 9-hole golf course. The community-built golf course in nearby Gold River is very challenging to both the novice and experienced golfer. Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
Scuba Diving: Starting in May the resident Six Gill Sharks and their inquisitive juveniles are seen regularly in 30 feet of water. This dive site is reached conveniently from shore. A 5-minute boat ride in the protected Tahsis Inlet takes you to your next dive, where you will find very rare huge gorgonian coral fans. Other watersports in the Tahsis area include sailing, wind surfing, and kite boarding.
Malaspina Lake Recreation Site, southeast of the Village of Tahsis on the Head Bay Forest Service Road, is a day-use site with a short trail leading to a sandy point on the south side of Malaspina Lake. Situated adjacent to the road, Malaspina Lake provides habitat for trumpeter swans, bald eagles, blacktail deer, raccoons, black bears, and cougars.
Weymer Creek Provincial Park, located southeast of Tahsis, is one of several parks in northern Vancouver Island that protect undisturbed karst features not protected elsewhere in Canada. There are no facilities in the undeveloped 307-hectare park.
Nuchatlitz Provincial Park is located on the western tip of Nootka Island, between Nuchatlitz and Esperanza inlets. A great diversity of flora and fauna is protected within an extensive range of terrestrial, intertidal and marine environments. Nuchatlitz is an excellent place to study intertidal life, as many tide pools can be found throughout the maze of islets and reefs that make up the park.
Garden Point Recreation site on the northern shoreline of Nootka Island offers a gently sloping beach, groves of old growth trees, and great mountain views across Esperanza Inlet. Camping is also possible at Belmont Beach and on the many tiny islands in the area – those that are not off limits as Native reserves.
Moutcha Bay is located at the head of Tlupana Inlet, off Nootka Sound, accessed off the Head Bay Road, approximately 20 kms east of Tahsis. Moutcha Bay offers great kayaking, diving, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Adjacent Head Bay also offers spectacular views and frequent wildlife sightings. The resort at the head of Moutcha Bay offers camping, accommodation, marine fuels, a boat launch, and a small store.
Gold River is the nearest community to Tahsis. Carved from wilderness in the 1960s, the resource-based community of Gold River is located 40 miles (63.5 km) southeast of Tahsis. Travellers arriving by road will pass through Gold River en route to Tahsis.
Esperanza Inlet, Nuchatlitz Inlet and Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island are rugged and remote areas rich in native culture and history, being the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. Like much of the wilderness in the North Island region, access to Esperanza and Nuchatlitz Inlets is by floatplane, or by boat from the nearest towns of Tahsis and Zeballos. These exciting journeys present unparalleled views of the rugged and remote wilderness beauty that is the west coast of beautiful Vancouver Island.