Ready to do a bit of exploring? BC has many picturesque islands to visit, but one, in particular, stands out from the crowd. With warm water temps and six different white-sand beaches to choose from, Cortes Island makes for the ideal island escape, and this summer is a great time to check it out for yourself.

Situated at the entrance of Desolation Sound, Cortes Island lies at the doorstep of breathtaking cliffsides, deep blue inlets, and stretches of natural beaches and lush forests. Truly the combination of the best natural geography BC has to offer, if you ask us!

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Visitors can see numerous wildlife amid six lush forests and provincial parks, from Grandmother Grove to Kw’as Park. Keep your eye out for bald eagles roosting in the tufts of cedar trees, marine life during low tide, and even the resident wolves who call the region home.

In addition to numerous hiking opportunities, visitors can lounge at six white-sand beaches, perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding.

And if you’re looking for a prime sunset-watching spot, head to Smelt Bay Provincial Park and beachcomb your way through the most child-friendly saltwater beach on the island. Or, hop to Manson’s Lagoon to explore, swim, and hunt for clams.

Location and directions

To get to Cortes Island, Vancouver residents can catch a ferry to Nanaimo, and drive or commute to Campbell River – where they’ll follow the signs across Quadra Island to Heriot Bay, finally catching a final ferry to Cortes Island.

Alternatively, visitors can arrive via water taxi directly from Campbell River or the Sunshine Coast, or catch a 30-minute flight from Campbell River.

Yes, a bit of a trek if you’re not already on the Island, but totally worth it for the unique wildlife and geographic location. In fact, the latter leads to 20+ degree water temps in the summer, which makes Cortes Island one of the only places in the world where you can swim in the ocean surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

So there you have it, Vancouver, another incredible summer bucket list experience for the books. Happy adventuring!