The Discovery Coast extends from Port Hardy to Bella Coola on the Central Coast, and includes the communities of Bella Bella (McLoughlin Bay), Denny Island (Shearwater), Klemtu, Ocean Falls, and the Hakai Pass area.
- The Discovery Coast Passage is a summer-only service between Port Hardy and Mid Coast ports of Bella Bella, Shearwater, Klemtu, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola. The communities of Bella Bella and Klemtu are served by the Inside Passage Fall/Winter/Spring schedule during the off season.
- Vehicles and Passengers
- Sailing Distance and times vary based on current conditions
- Sailing Season: June to September
- The Discovery Coast Passage route is served by the MV Queen of Chilliwack
- Reservations are strongly advised for passenger and vehicle travel along the Discovery Coast Passage between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.
- Port Hardy
- Bella Bella (McLoughlin Bay)
- Denny Island (Shearwater)
- Ocean Falls
- Hakai Pass
Click on the map to view a large scale map of the Vancouver Island and BC Coastal Ferry Routes, or view BC Ferries’ map of Ferry Routes in BC (PDF format). Make vehicle reservations and check current ferry schedules, ferry fares, capacity conditions at major ferry terminals, and the departure and arrival status of current sailings directly on the BC Ferries website.
BC Ferries Schedule for this Route
Until BC Ferries launched its Discovery Coast Passage run in the summer of 1996, the Central Coast was also largely inaccessible by water. Now, to the delight of adventurers and locals alike, from June to September the Queen of Chilliwack connects the community of Port Hardy, at the northeastern end of Vancouver Island, with Bella Coola. Sail direct, or enjoy optional stops at McLoughlin Bay, Denny Island (Shearwater), Klemtu, Ocean Falls and Bella Coola.
MV Queen of Chilliwack
The Discovery Coast Passage route is a ‘soft adventure’ travel experience featuring summer service to British Columbia’s fascinating Mid Coast. The Queen of Chilliwack serving the needs of the local communities is a working freight boat, and does not have overnight cabins, but does feature reclining seats. If you’re traveling with a small tent, you can set it up on the outer decks with approval from a crew member.
Facilities aboard the vessel include a cafeteria, a small licenced lounge, a gift shop and – a boon for kayakers – pay showers. Service is friendly, the food is better than average for BC Ferries, and there is a staff member dedicated to customer service who can assist you with your onboard needs or travel plans.
It’s just as well that luxuries aboard this refurbished Norwegian vessel don’t distract from the scenery, which is spectacular, with long fjords and narrow channels forming the backdrop to the Inside Passage. The roughest portion of the trip is just out of Port Hardy, as the ferry navigates the unprotected waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. This is a good time for a nap. The most stunning scenery is between Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
With the setting sun behind you, the monolithic rock formations looming over the narrow Burke Channel give the cruise a European flavour. You’ll get an even better look at the scenic Dean Channel during daylight hours if you board the ferry in Bella Coola for the southbound sailing. Weather permitting, the ship’s two upper decks are an excellent vantage point from which to watch for the logging camps, barge houses, and abandoned settlements that indicate a human presence on this rugged coastline. Although Natives have inhabited the area for thousands of years, the inhospitable terrain has limited development and exploration by European settlers until comparatively recently. Wildlife viewing – the ferry slows for orcas – is another bonus of this trip. Don’t forget your binoculars.