Nootka Recreation OVERVIEWSportfishing, sea-kayaking, hiking, caving, diving and whale watching are popular recreation activities in the remote Nootka region. Resorts, lodges and guides are numerous in the area as well as lodging and services found in the villages of Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos. The region has seen significant growth in the marine sportfishing effort between Maquinna - Bajo Points, Ferrer - Tachu Points and Highest and Spring/Lookout Islands. Management of commercial sportfishing resources is important to a viable tourism industry in this region.
Sportfishing: Large migratory Chinook up to 40 lbs.start showing offshore in June and move to inshore waters in early July. The Chinook run peaks in August, while Coho fishing, which starts in early summer, remains productive into late October. Feeder Chinook up to 15 lbs. are available offshore during the winter months. Offshore Halibut is best during May and June. Nootka Sound has also been an excellent producer of Rockfish and Lingcod, although closures and limitations are in effect for these species. Steelhead salmon is fished on the coastal streams. October through early December sees summer/fall run Steelhead; fresh run spring Steelhead starts in early March and runs through late April.
Sea-kayaking: Nootka Sound is one of the premier sea-kayaking destinations on the West Coast. The Nuchatlitz archipelago and inlet offers unparalleled paddling opportunities with many sheltered waters to explore; the area is also rich with cultural history. Popular kayak destinations are Catala Island, with many caves to explore, and Jurassic Point, where one might find some fossils. More highlights are the Nuchatlitz archipelago and the Inner Basin with waterfall. Rafts of a hundred sea otters are not a rarity in this area; home to one of the largest otter populations in the world. The area is also rich with natural predators like black bear, bald eagles, wolves and more, creating abundant wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities.
Whale-watching: Orcas (killer whales), Humpback and Gray Whales frequent the waters of the Nootka region. Over 26,000 gray whales pass by Nootka Island on their journey from Mexico to Alaska in March and April. Porpoises, harbour seals and Stellar sea lions are also found throughout these waters.
Diving: The open ocean and sheltered inlets of Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet are famous to divers world wide. They offer great visibility, marine life and underwater landscape. The temperate waters offer incredible visibility to spot the elusive six-gill sharks, one of the few areas they are readily found.
Caving: At least 50 underground caves are known in the Nootka region, with many filled with caverns and disappearing streams. West of Gold River are the Upana Caves, fifteen known prehistoric caves, including Corner Cave, Insect Cave, Main Cave, Resurgence Cave, Slither Cave and Tunnel Cave. Visitors are advised to use local guides, available at Tahsis and Gold River.
Hiking/Backpacking: The region is largely undeveloped and appeals primarily to people seeking wilderness surroundings. Much of the hiking and camping in this region takes place on beaches with terrain that includes sand, boulders and shelf rock. Some scrambling over rocky headlands is required, including the use of rope assists. This region is subject to varying weather conditions and help can be far away. Principal hiking/backpacking destinations in the region are:
Nuchatlitz Provincial Marine Park
Located on the western tip of Nootka Island, between Nuchatlitz and Esperanza inlets. A great diversity of flora and fauna is protected within an extensive range of terrestrial, intertidal and marine environments. Nuchatlitz is an excellent place to study intertidal life, as many tide pools can be found throughout the maze of islets and reefs that make up the park.
The 2,135-hectare park (803 hectares upland and 1,332 hectares foreshore) also protects vital habitat for British Columbia's recovering Sea Otter population. The remote islands are becoming a popular kayaking destination, offering both exposed coast and protected waters for paddling, quiet coves and a multitude of beaches. A wealth of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts exists, including boating, sport fishing, camping and wildlife viewing within the park and its surrounding area. There are sheltered camping areas on some of the islands, but no facilities are provided within the park. Access to the park is by boat from Zeballos, 18 km to the northeast.
Nootka (Yuquot) Trail
This remote hiking trail runs from Nuchatlitz Inlet at the north end of Nootka Island across 35 kilometers of rugged, pristine beaches along the west coast to the 4300 year old village of Yuquot (Friendly Cove). One of the few coastal hiking routes in British Columbia, this area is home to a great variety of marine and animal life, and features ancient village sites, waterfalls, sea caves and culturally modified trees. Travellers can see the west coast in its undeveloped state, as the West Coast Trail used to be.
Trail recommended May 1 to Sept 30. Hikers asked to pay $40 trail use fee at Friendly Cove. This is a hike for self-sufficient, coast-experienced hikers. More info
Hiking the Nootka trail - a personal account: www.triumf.ca/people/gum/Nootka.html
Catala Island Provincial Marine Park
This remote park includes Catala Island and Twin Islands in Esperanza Inlet, numerous reefs, islands, islets and marine ecosystems. The 850-hectare wilderness park, which incorporates 254 hectares of upland and 596 hectares of foreshore park, is an area with important significance to the island's First Nations people. An Indian Reserve is situated at the extreme eastern tip of Catala Island, with access prohibited to visitors.
The park has no facilities, but sea kayaking and wilderness camping in the many informal campsites attracts visitors to the island to explore the reefs, lakes, bogs and the rugged shoreline. Nearby Queen Cove on Vancouver Island is the nearest all-weather anchorage from which boaters may access Catala Island.
Bligh Island Marine Park
This recently established Nootka Sound marine park comprises about half of Bligh Island, plus the beautiful and untouched Spanish Pilot Group Islands and Villaverde 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.
Bligh Island Provincial Park has no facilities, other than a pit toilet at Charlie's Beach. Access to the park is by water from the communities of Gold River, Zeballos and Tahsis.
Santa Gertrudis - Boca del Infierno Park
Located near Friendly Cove on south Nootka Island. Santa Gertrudis encompasses 435 hectares (400 hectares of upland and 35 hectares of foreshore) and protects old-growth west coast forest as well as a coastal marine environment and habitat for marine mammals. A number of known archaeological sites are in the area, providing evidence of cultures that thrived here over the past several thousand years.
There are no facilities provided within the park, but limited amenities are available at Yuquot (Friendly Cove). Santa Gertrudis - Boca del Infierno Provincial Park can be reached by boat from Gold River, Tahsis or Zeballos.
Weymer Creek Provincial Park
Located southeast of Tahsis, is one of several parks in northern Vancouver Island that protect undisturbed karst features not protected elsewhere in Canada. Although there may be potential for caving opportunities in the future, use of the park for caving is not permitted until a management plan is complete. There are no facilities in the undeveloped 307-hectare park.
Weymer Creek Park is on the Gold River to Tahsis logging road, accessible from Campbell River on Gold River Highway 28.