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Best Places to Paddleboard: Discovery Islands

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Are you looking for a peaceful and unique way to explore the natural beauty of the Discovery Islands? Look no further than paddleboarding! This popular water sport is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with the island's stunning coastline, wildlife, and marine life.

From tranquil bays to rugged shorelines, paddleboarding in the Discovery Islands offers a variety of SUP experiences for beginners and experts alike. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best places to paddleboard in the Discovery Islands, so you can plan your next adventure on the water. Whether you're looking for a relaxing paddle or a challenging workout, we've got you covered. So grab your board and let's dive in.

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Sonora Island

Sonora Island, an unspoiled haven off the coast of British Columbia, captivates with its untamed beauty and secluded allure. Embrace the untouched landscapes, where rugged coastlines meet lush greenery and wildlife thrives. Embark on exhilarating hikes, witness the majestic marine creatures during captivating whale-watching expeditions, and find solace in the tranquil surroundings. Sonora Island beckons you to embrace its pristine wilderness and create cherished memories in this untouched paradise.

How to get to Sonora Island in the Discovery Islands

Getting to Sonora Island can be a bit challenging if you're travelling from Vancouver. Firstly, you'll need to take the Horseshoe Bay ferry to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. From there, you'll need to drive for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Campbell River, BC. Once you arrive in Campbell River, head to 11th Ave at Cedar and take a water taxi to Barnes Bay on Sonora Island, BC, Canada.

Owen Bay

The Owen Bay SUP Route is a rural paddling destination located on Sonora Island. The route is approximately 7.8 km long and is of moderate difficulty, suitable for intermediate or advanced paddlers. The area is known for its stunning natural beauty, with plenty of wildlife and scenic views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Additionally, the area is renowned for its excellent salmon fishing opportunities, with a variety of species found in the waters around Sonora Island. Visitors can also expect to encounter a range of wildlife during their paddle, including bald eagles, seals, sea lions, and possibly even whales.

For this paddle, you’ll need to access it by water taxi. I’d recommended staying at Cathers Cove Off Grid Eco Lodge and paddling out right from their dock.

Quadra Island

Quadra Island is a coastal paradise adorned with lush forests, a rugged coastline, and pristine waters. It provides a serene retreat for nature enthusiasts, offering captivating hiking trails, unspoiled beaches, and abundant wildlife. Immerse yourself in the enchanting allure of Quadra Island and bask in its exquisite natural beauty.

How to get to Quadra Island in the Discovery Islands

Getting there from Vancouver starts by taking the Horseshoe Bay ferry to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. From there, drive for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Campbell River, BC. Catch a ferry from Campbell River to Quadra Island, which takes around 10 minutes. Once on Quadra Island, you can drive, bike, local taxis or hitchhike from the 'car stop' points. Full details about hot to get to Quadra Island.

Granit Bay to Small Inlet

Explore this 10.3-kilometer out-and-back trail perfect for paddle boarding near Strathcona C, British Columbia. This easy route is not only great for paddle sports but also ideal for birding enthusiasts. You can enjoy a serene experience while exploring this trail as it is less crowded, giving you ample space to paddle at your own pace.

Discovery Island Lodge with Blue Jellyfish SUP Adventures
Discovery Island Lodge with Blue Jellyfish SUP Adventures

Discovery Island Lodge

The Discovery Islands Lodge, situated on northern Quadra Island, is a waterfront lodge that operates off-grid. The lodge's location in proximity to three provincial parks makes it an easily accessible gateway to an uncrowded paradise of pristine, sheltered ocean waters, teeming with wildlife, surrounded by breathtaking rainforests, tranquil lakes, and soaring mountain views. The lodge is run by Coast Mountain Expeditions.

Blue Jellyfish SUP Adventures offers a thrilling 5-day 4-night coastal adventure tour at the beautiful Discovery Island Lodge. You'll improve your paddleboarding skills and explore some of the most diverse marine environments around Quadra Island. You'll learn how to navigate in a coastal environment, plan your route, and focus on safety and expertise. The stunning waters of the Discovery Islands are perfect for both learning and exploring. This trip is ideal for paddleboarders who love discovering new places. Join us in the Discovery Islands this summer.

Drew Harbour Paddle

Discover an easy 5.6-kilometre loop trail near Heriot Bay, British Columbia, perfect for stand-up paddleboarding enthusiasts. This route offers a tranquil experience as it is less crowded, and the best time to visit is from May through September. You can paddleboard the loop in Drew Harbour, starting from the official parking area on Rebecca Split Road near the We Wai Kai Campground. Just a short 0.3-kilometre walk with your equipment will take you to the beach for water access.

Main Lake Provincial Park

The Mine Lake route is a great paddleboarding adventure. You'll paddle through a beautiful turquoise lake all the while sheltered from the tides and winds of the ocean. Just park on Surge Narrows Road and walk a short distance to the lake. The 4-kilometer route near Heriot Bay is easy and not crowded, perfect for paddle sports. Go between May and September for the best experience.

Village Bay Lake

If you're looking for an easy and accessible stand-up paddleboarding adventure, consider exploring the 5.1 km route at Village Bay Lake. With plenty of beautiful cottages to see along the way, this paddle is perfect for beginner paddlers who are looking for a gentle and leisurely experience.

Launching your paddleboard is a breeze, too. Simply drive by the bridge and park your vehicle nearby. From there, take a short walk of about 100 meters under the bridge, and you'll find a perfect spot to launch your paddleboard and start your adventure.

Places to Stay:


Cape Mudge Petroglyphs: Located on the southern tip of Quadra Island, the Cape Mudge petroglyphs are accessible via a short trail. The site contains over 100 petroglyphs and is considered to be one of the most significant petroglyph sites in British Columbia.

Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge Petroglyphs: Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge, located on the eastern shore of Quadra Island, has several petroglyphs on its property. The petroglyphs are not open to the public, but visitors can view them on a guided tour.

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre Petroglyphs: The Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre, located in Cape Mudge Village, has a small collection of petroglyphs on display. The petroglyphs were moved to the cultural center from other locations on Quadra Island.

Please note that visiting petroglyph sites on Quadra Island should be done with respect and reverence for the Indigenous history and culture of the area. It is important to obtain permission and guidance from local Indigenous communities before visiting any petroglyph sites.

Cortes Island

Nestled off the coast of British Columbia, Cortes Island is an untouched haven of serenity and natural beauty. With its pristine forests, sun-drenched beaches, and tranquil bays, it offers an enchanting escape from the ordinary. Explore the island's diverse wildlife and awe-inspiring vistas, immersing yourself in its unspoiled landscapes. Indulge in the island's peaceful rhythm as you relax in waterfront accommodations, embracing the tranquillity that surrounds you. Cortes Island beckons, inviting you to discover its hidden treasures and create timeless memories in this secluded paradise.

How to get to Cortes Island in the Discovery Islands

To reach Cortes Island, take a ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo's Departure Bay. Drive to Campbell River and catch a ferry to Quadra Island. From there, take a short ferry ride to Cortes Island. Alternatively, you can opt for a direct float plane flight from Vancouver. Once on Cortes Island, immerse yourself in its natural beauty and explore its captivating landscapes.

Gorge Harbour Maina

If you're looking for a fun and moderately challenging stand-up paddleboarding adventure, try out the 8.9-km loop trail near Mansons Landing, British Columbia. This route is perfect for birdwatching, fishing, and paddle sports enthusiasts alike. One of the best things about this SUP route is that you won't run into too many other people during your exploration, making it a great place to unwind and relax.

Coulter Bay

Begin your paddleboarding adventure at the beautiful beach near Coulter Bay on Cortes Island. Take your time and enjoy the calm waters as you paddle. This route is approximately 4.6 kilometres long.

Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as seals, otters, and eagles that often frequent this area. As you paddle towards the mouth of the bay, the beautiful scenery of the surrounding forested hills will be sure to catch your eye.

Haque Lake

Enjoy a relaxing and easy paddleboarding adventure on Hague Lake, located on Cortes Island. This 5.3 km long route is perfect for beginners or those looking for a leisurely paddle. Start at the boat launch on the eastern side of the lake and paddle north towards the northernmost point of the lake.

Take in the beautiful scenery of the surrounding forest and the tranquil waters of the lake. From there, turn around and paddle south along the western shoreline of the lake, where you'll find some of the best swimming spots on the island. Continue south until you reach the southernmost point of the lake before turning back to the starting point. Whether you're looking to relax, explore, or just enjoy the outdoors, this SUP route on Hague Lake is the perfect way to spend a day on Cortes Island.

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Mansons Landing

Enjoy an easy 4.7 km SUP route on Mansons Landing, Cortes Island. Launch from the public dock and paddle towards Gorge Harbour, taking in the beautiful forested hills and variety of birds. Spot marine life like seals and whales while remembering to keep a safe distance. Happy paddling.

In conclusion, paddleboarding on Discovery Island is an excellent way to experience the island's natural beauty and explore its coastal waters. Whether you're a seasoned paddleboarder or a beginner, there's a spot for you to enjoy. From the calm waters of Gowlland Harbour to the rugged coastline of Cape Mudge, Discovery Island offers a diverse range of paddleboarding experiences that will leave you in awe. Remember to always practice water safety, respect the local wildlife and marine life, and leave no trace. We hope this guide has inspired you to grab your paddleboard and explore the beautiful waters of Discovery Island. Happy paddling.

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