The Inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park

 Sea Kayak Okeover Inlet, Malaspina Inlet, Lancelot Inlet, Theodosia Inlet, Desolation Sound, British Columbia, Canada

 

From Powell River Sea Kayak’s launch site at Penrose Bay on Okeover Inlet, the Inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park are the perfect introduction to the Desolation Sound area and the west coast in general. More protected than the Strait of Georgia or Desolation Sound itself, the inlets of Okeover, Malaspina, Lancelot and Theodosia offer incredible opportunities for day trips or longer periods of deeper exploration. 

 

Okeover Inlet

Heading south from Penrose Bay towards the head of Okeover Inlet is a great beginner's route, scenic and relatively calm, with plenty to keep your mind and imagination immersed for hours. Watch for oysters, sea stars and sea cucumbers along the shallow western shore and paddle in amongst the sailboats and oyster skiffs at the Okeover Government Wharf. At the head of the inlet, the estuary formed by Plummer Creek is a good spot to catch the site of a black bear feeding on new shoots of green vegetation, or salmon beginning their journey up the creek to spawn. The eastern side of the inlet is characterised by the Bunster Hills cloaked in thick forest, interesting rock formations where cliffs plunge directly into the sea, and ancient native pictographs telling cryptic stories of the forgotten past.

North of our launch site in Penrose Bay, the common route into Desolation Sound follows the eastern shore of Coode Peninsula, entering Malaspina Inlet and continuing north. However, great day paddles exist in this area that should not be overlooked!

The Isbister Islets as the northern tip of Coode Peninsula are a great place to stop and rest for shorter trips, and a recommended spot for snorkeling due to the shallow, nutrient rich water - supporting everything from sea stars, sea cucumbers, and huge spiky red sea urchins! A trip to these islands and back to Penrose Bay with a short stop for rest or lunch takes the average kayaker about three hours.

Across Okeover inlet from the Isbister Islets is the long, narrow bay once known by its native inhabitants as KaKaeKae, but now known as Grace Harbour. Once the site of an expansive First Nation's village - many remnants of which still remain and are visible - the bay is well protected from all winds and has great marine wildlife to explore either by kayak or with a mask and snorkel. Camping is available in Grace Harbour as well as opportunities for hiking and swimming at a freshwater lake.

 

Lancelot and Theodosia Inlets

Lancelot and Theodosia Inlets do not provide access to Desolation Sound itself, but are intriguing destinations for day trips from Penrose Bay or as side-trip on longer multi-day expeditions into the Sound. The western shore of Lancelot Inlet is part of the Desolation Sound Marine Park, and has a number of protected bays, coves and islets that are perfect to pull into and stretch your legs or have a bite to eat with the Coast Mountains as a scenic backdrop. Isabel Bay in particular is a wonderful, shallow bay with warm water and great intertidal marine life, fantastic for swimming or snorkeling after a morning of exercise.

As you head deeper into Lancelot you notice less signs of human inhabitation, with few kayakers or boats to break the peaceful atmosphere. A the head of Lancelot Inlet on Thyne Island you have great opportunities for camping with amazing views back down the inlet, allowing you to break a trip in this area up into a couple of days. 

A narrow passage, easily overlooked, on the eastern shore of Lancelot provides access to Theodosia Inlet. This short inlet provides a true feeling of remoteness as you paddle north-east toward the very feet of the Coast Mountains. The Theodosia River used to support a salmon run of 200 000 fish a year, before it was partly diverted into Powell Lake to help power the needs of the growing town via a hydroelectric dam. Recent efforts to reinstate this hugely important ecological migration have been slowly but surely returning spawning salmon to Theodosia, and the expansive estuary delta at the head of the inlet - as well as the valley behind it - supports bears, deer, elk, wolves, cougars and countless other terrestrial wildlife. Watch closely for black bears foraging on the shore, eagles perched in branches high above, and the occasional osprey diving headlong into the water in search of prey!

  

Malaspina Inlet

Leaving Grace Harbour and heading north towards Desolation Sound you cross the boundary between Okeover and Malaspina Inlets. Dotted with islands and islets, protected bays and coves, Malaspina Inlet is the perfect introduction to Desolation Sound.

On the western shore, Cochrane Bay is sheltered by picturesque islands and provides access to a scenic portion the Sunshine Coast trail, where a short hike will bring you to another freshwater swimming hole, Wednesday Lake, and adds another dimension to a great kayaking trip. Bald eagles are commonly seen high up in the towering firs and cedars, overlooking the inlet as you paddle below. 

Continuing north, on the eastern shore, the islands and bays provide more fantastic swimming and snorkeling opportunities, with the currents in the area providing ample nutrients to scores of stars, urchins, anemones, nudibranchs and other wonderful and colourful marine life, which is particular prolific here. Camping exists towards the mouth of the inlet at beautiful Hare Point, the perfect launching pad for forays into Desolation Sound, or as the first stop of a deeper exploration.

From here, it's just a short paddle to the mouth of Malaspina Inlet and Desolation Sound. Further camping exists just outside the inlet on the western side at Feather Cove, another access point for the Sunshine Coast Trail and a great hike up to a wide viewpoint of the entire Sound. 

The Inlets of Desolation Sound Marine Park are great for day trips or camping adventures for young families and those that are looking to get away from it all for a couple of peaceful days, as well as providing fantastic side-trips for those that want to fully immerse themselves in the area on the way to Desolation Sound.