Barkley Sound: Boating in the Wilderness of British Columbia's Vancouver Island (see our blog for more information)
Barkley Sound is located on Vancouver Island's rugged west coast and is typically accessible by trawlers and large sailboats who can safely cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and brave the sea condition of the Pacific Ocean. But it is also accessible by trailering across Vancouver Island, over Alberni Summit, and launching at the inland seaport of Port Alberni. Then, Barkley Sound is about 30 miles down the Alberni Inlet, a fjord like body of water with steep mountains, depths in the triple digits, and splendid scenery.
But it all begins with a ferry ride From Tsawwassen at Duke Point that crosses the Strait of Georgia in two hours and lands at Nanaimo. The cost is not cheap, about $250, one-way for a 52 foot long truck and trailer combination. But there is no other way if you want to boat in the wilderness at Barkley Sound. The highway to Port Alberni is wonderful but the last mile to the summit is an 8% grade then the next 10 miles to the water's edge is a consistent 6% grade that can be hard on the trailer's brakes. We would not trailer to Tofino because their are sections of Highway 4 that are 18% grade on tight turns and there are portions of the highway that are too narrow where it was blasted into the side of a mountain.
Barkley Sound is roughly rectangular in shape, about 12 miles long and 10 miles wide, with the Broken Group Islands occupying the center of the sound. These islands are part of the Pacific Rim National Park and provide a host of safe anchorages and opportunities to explore. There are two main communities, Bamfield is near the southwest corner of the Sound and Ucluelet is on the northwest corner. Known as "U-Kee" harbor by the locals, the later is larger, has a host of services and is accessible by a paved road.
World-Class Scuba Diving and Legendary Fishing
This area is abundant with sea life and the scuba diving is world-class because of the diversity of life and the of the water. But this is cold water diving and the dive sites often require a live boat that drop off and pick up divers. Therefore, diving with a professional service is best. We had an incredible experience with Rendezvous Dive Adventures and this is their website. We loved Peter and Kathy and their retreat-like facility in this wilderness.
In the summer time, millions of Sockeye Salmon return from the ocean and in late August the Chinooks or "Springs" as the locals call them, are sought. Halibut fishing is also amazing.
Read our blog of this boating adventure for more details.