Nootka Island is a large island located on the remote and rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, enveloped by Nootka Sound, Nuchatlitz Inlet, Esperanza Inlet, Tahsis Inlet, and the Pacific Ocean.
Steeped in history and surrounded by the natural beauty of the west coast of Vancouver Island, Nootka Island and the surrounding sounds and inlets provide a paradise for sport anglers and outdoor adventurers seeking to explore and enjoy the magnificent wilderness surroundings. The mountain scenery is unsurpassed in beauty, and the area teems with wildlife.
The birthplace of British Columbia is the small community of Yuquot on Nootka Island, also known as Friendly Cove. Yuquot is the site of the first contact between Europeans and First Nations people in British Columbia.
First Nations people came to magnificent Yuquot over 4,000 years ago, drawn by the rich sea life and natural resources, the mild climate, and the beautiful surroundings. Those same qualities still draw visitors to this magical place today, as there is so much to see and experience. The traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation incorporates much of the western portion of Vancouver Island.
In March 1778, Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy became the first European to set foot on British Columbian soil when he visited Friendly Cove on Nootka Island. While anchoring in Resolution Cove on Bligh Island, across from Friendly Cove, the natives hollered “itchme nutka, itchme nutka”, meaning “go around” (to Yuquot), but Cook misinterpreted their calls, believing the name of the area to be Nootka.
Location: Nootka Island is located off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Access to Yuquot (Friendly Cove), the main community on the southwest tip of Nootka Island, is by boat or floatplane. Closest access points by boat are Gold River and Tahsis, departure points for the MV Uchuck 111 to Yuquot.
Yuquot (Friendly Cove) is the birthplace of British Columbia. Historical Friendly Cove was the site of the first contact between Europeans and First Nations people in British Columbia. First Nations people came to magnificent Yuquot over 4,000 years ago, drawn by the rich sea life and natural resources, the mild climate, and the beautiful surroundings. Those same qualities still draw visitors to this magical place today, as there is so much to see and experience.
Nootka Sound is a paradise for sport anglers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking to explore and enjoy the marvelous west coast wilderness.
Esperanza Inlet and Nuchatlitz Inlet, including the finger inlets that branch off from them (Port Eliza, Espinosa Inlet, Zeballos Inlet) were gouged out by glaciers during the last ice age, and are extremely remote and sparsely populated. This isolation is enhanced by the stunning scenery, attracting anglers, kayakers, divers, campers and hikers to the wilderness area.
Tahsis is an unspoiled coastal village situated at the head of Tahsis Inlet, a deep fjord that cuts northwards off Nootka Sound.
Hiking: The Nootka Island Trail (also called the Friendly Cove/Yuquot Trail) rambles between Louie Bay on the north side of Nootka Island and Yuquot (Friendly Cove) on the south. Along the way, the trail crosses exquisite beaches and tidal shelves, as well as leading inland to bypass rocky headlands and deep river mouths. This 22-mile (35-km) trail is gradually becoming a choice hiking destination, and is a complement to the West Coast Trail. By comparison with the West Coast Trail, the Nootka Island Trail is poorly marked and infrequently maintained. Be prepared to bushwhack around fallen trees brought down by the frequent, savage winter storms that pound this section of coast. In order to avoid an exhausting amount of bushwhacking, consult tide charts for the most opportune times to cross beaches. Allow seven days to complete the hike one way. Hikers must be completely self-contained and are advised to carry a handheld marine radio, as the sole source of help is from the lighthouse staff at Yuquot. Note: There is a large population of bears on Nootka Island, and chances are good that hikers will encounter them along the beaches. At present, these bears do not associate hikers with food. Cache all supplies well out of reach of these animals.
Kayaking: The sounds and inlets surrounding Nootka Ialsnd provide a true paradise for paddlers. So many places can only be explored and truly appreciated by kayak; small islands, sheltered coves, rocky coastlines, remote sandy beaches and dense rainforest. The waters are rich with wildlife, including gray whales and orca whales, sea otters, seals and sea lions, eagles, wolves, cougars, and bears. Guided sea kayaking tours to historical Nootka Sound can be arranged from most centres on Vancouver Island. Expert guides know the area, the currents, the winds, and of course the best camping spots!
Fishing: The waters surrounding Nootka Island offer great fishing for salmon and bottomfish, including halibut, cod, and red snapper. Fishing for salmon is best in July, August and September, and April to September for halibut, rockfish and snapper. Nootka Sound area has 7 wild salmon rivers and three hatcheries, including the large federal salmon hatchery on the Conuma River, between Tahsis and Gold River. Halibut are plentiful and generally range from 15 to 50 pounds, although halibut in the 175-pound range have been caught in the area. Access to fishing camps in the area is either by boat or floatplane
Nuchatlitz Provincial Park encompasses the very northwest tip of Nootka Island and a large number of small island groups. Nuchatlitz Provincial Park protects a number of archaeological sites, evidence that the area has been inhabited for thousands of years by First Nations people drawn to the region by the abundance of natural resources.
Catala Island Marine Provincial Park protects numerous reefs, islands, islets and marine ecosystems. Catala Island itself is forested with mature trees, twisted and stunted by the strong winds blowing off the Pacific Ocean. A lake and bog area are also found on the island.
Bligh Island Marine Provincial Park sits at the mouth of the Muchalat Inlet, to the east of Nootka Island, and encompasses the southern portion of Bligh Island and part of the Spanish Pilot Group of Islands. The park protects mature coastal forests and delicate marine ecosystems, and there is much to explore in this group of six islands. The 4,455-hectare park (1,584 hectares upland and 2,871 hectares foreshore) is a favourite boating and fishing destination amongst local and visiting yachtsmen. Sea kayaking tours to the Nootka Sound are available, or kayakers can arrange to be dropped off near the island by the MV Uchuck lll as it plies between Gold River and Yuquot. The park has no facilities, other than a pit toilet at Charlie’s Beach
Santa Gertrudis-Boca del Infierno Marine Prov Park protects old-growth west coast forest, a coastal marine environment, habitat for marine mammals, and a number of known archaeological sites.