On one Quadra Island hiking trail at the pristine Morte Lake, a marker sign simply states: “Nirvana.”
It’s an apt description for the entire island, which abounds in forested trails, quiet inlets, serene beaches and gorgeous coastal scenery.
The largest of the Discovery Islands, Quadra sits conveniently between Vancouver Island and mainland BC. Just a 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River, it’s a perfect destination for an easy getaway, no matter what kind of escape you’re craving. Here, we bring you a few ideas for what to do on trip to Quadra, depending on your travel needs and tastes.
FOR ACTIVE TRAVELLERS
Take to the water: Quadra Island’s protected eastern shore makes it an ideal spot for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing — and renting equipment is easy thanks to the island’s abundance of local outfitters. Explore Quadra’s quiet inlets, which teem with marine life, or take a paddle daytrip out to the nearby Breton Islands.
Hit the trails: With 200 kilometres of hiking and biking trails traversing forested paths and gorgeous shorelines, Quadra is a dream come true for hikers and cyclists of all skill levels. Experienced mountain bikers shouldn’t miss one (or all) of the trails on Mount Seymour (Quadra’s highest peak), all of which afford steep descents and sweeping views, while those who prefer road riding can tour the island’s quiet roadways, making stops along the way at local shops and galleries. For memorable treks on foot, hikers should opt for the fern-draped forests and pretty beaches along Shellaligan Pass Trail or the Morte Lake Trail — the latter is great for families who might want to work in a picnic or a swim.
Quadra Island has no shortage of hiking and biking trails, allowing travellers to explore the beautiful forested regions of the island. Photo by Witold Skrypczak / Alamy Stock Photo
Get climbing: Thanks to its granite sea cliffs and craggy, south facing rock outcrops, Quadra is a popular spot for climbers. Experienced climbers can choose from more than 200 listed routes on the island, most of which are bolt-protected and afford gorgeous views of the Salish Sea and surrounding mountains. Head to the Chinese Mountains, on the centre of the island, for some of the best climbs.
Hit the beach: Kids of all ages will love exploring the sandy beaches at Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park on Quadra’s eastern side. Pack a picnic and spend the day swimming, strolling the easy trails and searching for shells and stones along the driftwood-strewn shores.
The scenic shores of Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park are ideal for beachcombing with kids. Photo courtesy of Witold Skrypczak/Alamy Stock Photo.
Watch the wildlife: Charter a boat to cruise the eastern waters beyond Heriot Bay and spend a few hours watching the area’s abundant marine life. Sea lions, seals and porpoises are almost a sure bet for wildlife-watchers, but keep an eye out for passing whales, too—orcas, greys and humpbacks can be spotted when the season is right.
A humpback whale breaches near Quadra Island. Photo by Rachel Lambert/Shutterstock.
Stay at Taku: Located in serene Drew Harbour, Taku Resort and Marina is an ideal base for families, offering cozy A-frame beachfront cabins, three-bedroom terrace suites, campsites, and a beachside stone house for big barbecues. Guests can rent paddle boards and kayaks from Quadra Island Kayaks—located right on the resort property — and enjoy the on-site tennis, volleyball and basketball courts.
FOR CULTURE MAVENS
Celebrate Indigenous heritage: The rich heritage of Quadra’s Indigenous peoples is evident throughout the island, including in the southwest village of Cape Mudge, home to the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. There, explore the history and culture of the Kwakwak’awakw people through returned potlatch artifacts and regalia, then head across the road to marvel at 3000-year-old petroglyphs—some of which were moved there from other parts of the island to protect them from erosion and vandals. (Note: The Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre is typically open in summer, but you can call 250-202-7707 to book tours in the off-season.)
Visit a vineyard: Located in Quathiaski Cove (the island’s main commercial and residential area) SouthEnd Farm Winery produces micro vintages from grapes grown almost exclusively on Quadra and in the Comox Valley. Visit the tasting room to sample “real Quadra flavour”—be sure to try the 2018 Virga, which has notes of green pepper, tropical fruit and a hint of flowers. (Note: visiting hours vary from season to season.)
SouthEnd Farm Winery’s variety of vintage wines consist of grapes grown almost exclusively on Quadra and in the Comox Valley, offering an authentic taste of the island. Photo courtesy SouthEnd Farm Winery.
Browse locally made goods: Open on Saturdays from May to September, Quadra’s lively farmers market, located in Quathiaski Cove, features a wide variety of locally made goods, from lovely soaps and handmade sweaters to fresh produce and artisanal treats. For BC-made goods that are available any time of year, check out Sidelines Shop, located in the Heriot Bay Inn. Choose among a charming selection of items, including adorable glow-in-the-dark jellyfish encased in glass, hand-crafted jewellery and one-of-a-kind, nautical-themed creations. Suffice to say, you will not leave empty handed.