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Rugged yet serene, the north and west coasts of Vancouver Island are unlike anywhere else. Wave-sculpted rocks, sea caves and fjords, old-growth forests, incredible wildlife, and white sandy beaches make this an unbeatable destination. The Wild Coast, the first of Kimantas's three guides to all the coasts of British Columbia, is now available in a completely revised and updated edition.This book is for those who want to explore the coast from Cape Scott in the north all the way to Esquimalt in the south, whether by kayak or boat, on foot, or even in an RV. An introduction to the local geography, history, and ecology lures you into each region, and information about attractions in the area allows you to plan side excursions. Hiking trails, wilderness campsites, and locations to view wildlife are all marked on the more than 90 maps that are scattered throughout the chapters. And kayakers especially will appreciate the insider information on good beach locations, launch points, reefs, and hazards.
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John Kimantas has been a journalist for more than 18 years and has written for newspapers across Canada. He is editor and owner of Coast & Kayak Magazine (formerly Wavelength) and the author of the Wild Coast series and the BC Coastal Recreation and Kayaking and Small Boats Atlas series. He lives on Vancouver Island.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The west coast of Vancouver Island is a magical mixture: wave-pounded rocks, foaming water, miles of white sand beach, majestic fjords twisting deep into mountain passes and a parade of wildlife -- from playful sea otters munching on crabs to gray whales arcing as they surface.
It takes only a visit to become hooked. Getting to know the coast well can take a lifetime.
This book is designed for those who want to get to know the coast better -- whether by kayak, boat, foot or RV (though the emphasis on kayaking will be obvious). The outer coast from Port Hardy in the north to Esquimalt in the south is divided into 11 sections. Each chapter offers background on the attractions, history and ecology of the region, as well as launching and camping options. Detailed maps show the locations of all the major points of interest -- from campsites to the best places to view wildlife.
Vancouver Island stretches 500 km (300 miles) end to end. But between Cape Sutil in the north and Rocky Point to the south, there are thousands of miles of coastline, thanks to five distinct major sounds. Three of those sounds have become internationally popular travel destinations. The southernmost, Barkley Sound, is liberally sprinkled with islands and protected as a national park. It has grown to become one of the top kayaking and tourism destinations in North America. Each year thousands are drawn to the protected channels, the sea caves, the beaches and the abundant wildlife.
To the north is Clayoquot Sound, an area that became the focal point for an international logging demonstration in 1993. The protests were destined to become the nation's largest case of civil disobedience. Hundreds would be arrested in a bid to protect Clayoquot's old-growth forests. The attempt would eventually fail, but public outcry would lead to two significant events for the sound: first, an appeasement to protect virtually all of Clayoquot Sound's outer coast, then the creation of a scientific panel to review all logging and commercial use of the sound.
A network of provincial parks now stretches along most of Vancouver Island's southwestern coastline, from Hesquiat Peninsula in the north to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.
North of Clayoquot Sound is Nootka Sound. The recreational focal point is Bligh Island Provincial Marine Park. Growing popular with kayakers seeking an alternative to the more crowded Broken Island Group in Barkley Sound, Bligh Island offers protected waters and channels to explore. It's also a gateway to some of Vancouver Island's most intriguing history, including the historic native village of Yuquot on Nootka Island.
Nootka Island is the most geographically imposing of the islands along the coast. Tucked in against Vancouver Island are numerous sheltered passages: Tahsis, Esperanza, Zeballos and Espinosa inlets, to name a few. But the best attractions are toward the open ocean: the wild and exposed Nuchatlitz and Catala provincial marine parks. Here kayakers can enjoy sheltered waters or explore wave-pounded reefs in one of the most inspiring wilderness settings on the coast.
Farther north, travellers will find the route less ventured. Brooks Peninsula is a massive physical barrier, with little land access and even less shelter. Many of the most rare and exotic birds along British Columbia's coast nest there. Tucked in around the peninsula are islands and waterways to explore, including Kyuquot Sound and the off-lying Mission Group Islands. To the north lie the Bunsby Islands, which have many attractions of the more popular archipelagos without the crowds.
The northernmost of the sounds is Quatsino, with its long passages and rolling hillsides. Here can be found features from the unique character of Kwakiult-Lawn Point Provincial Park to the six-gill sharks of Drake Island.
Perhaps the most exotic location, though, is the very northern tip of Vancouver Island. Remote to the point of being desolate, visitors will find miles upon miles of uninhabited white sand beach and more wildlife per square foot than anywhere else on Vancouver Island. Too wild and distant to be considered a destination by most people, it's still surprisingly accessible -- from the white sands and sea stacks of San Josef Bay to the serenity of God's Pocket Provincial Park and the myriad of islands just north of Port Hardy.
No two areas of Vancouver Island's wild coast are the same. And no matter which part of the island you choose to visit, be sure it will change the way you view the great outdoors.
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