British Columbia Travel Guide
The unofficial BC Travel & Tourism Guide
Set in the rugged natural beauty of the west coast of Vancouver Island, Nootka Sound is a challenging and thrilling area for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers. The complex inlet that starts deep in Vancouver Island’s cloud-laced valleys before it opens into the Pacific is dotted with reefs and islands – the isolated Nootka Island is one of them.

Nootka Island is located in Nootka Sound on the west coast of North Vancouver Island, about 70 km north of Tofino. Its inclement weather and wild seas have assured a sparse population of humans, but it is home to abundant wildlife including black bear, elk, cougar, eagles and whales. On most mornings campers, surfers or fishermen may be greeted by sea otters poking their heads through great rafts of kelp.

Nootka Island offers beautiful hiking opportunities. Fly to Nuchatlitz Inlet at the north end of Nootka Island and hike the rugged, isolated and pristine beaches along the West Coast to Yuquot (Friendly Cove). The West Coast of Nootka is very rugged and subject to varying weather conditions. Help can be far away. For these reasons the trail should only be attempted by experienced and fit hikers or with trained guides.

The 18th century brought Spanish and English exploration, and the sound was given various names, including Surgidero de San Lorenzo and King George Sound, but a conversation with natives resulted in the misnomer Nutka or Nootka, and the name stuck. The summer home of Chief Maquinna and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people for millennia, the community of Yuquot, also known as Friendly Cove, was the site of the first contact between Europeans and First Nations people in British Columbia. Over the next 100 years, Nootka became an important focal point for European and American explorers. In 1923, the Canadian government declared Friendly Cove a National Historic Site.

In July 2001 Nootka Sound and the community of Gold River became the focus of worldwide media coverage when an orphaned killer whale, missing from her Puget Sound pod, made the inlet her home. She became accustomed to boat traffic, and attempts to move her back to her pod were resisted by the Mowachaht and Muchalaht First Nations, who believed she embodied the spirit of Chief Ambrose Maquinna, who had died just days before. Her familiarity with boats ultimately led to her death from a propeller wound.

Location and access:
From Gold River and Tahsis, travelers aboard the MV Uchuck lll, a sea-worthy converted minesweeper, can enjoy the inlets scenic beauty, and hold on for a passage through a wild and exposed coastline. The ship carries passengers, freight, kayakers and adventurers of all kinds into the sound and to the small community of Yuquot on Nootka Island. Various outfitters also provide recreational opportunities, including fishing, kayaking and surfing. The Gold River Highway 28 runs the width of central Vancouver Island, linking Campbell River on the east coast with Gold River to the west.

Nootka Island Accommodations

Nootka Island Things to Do

British Columbia
Nootka Island