The Broken Islands Group

The Broken Island group is located off the West Coast of Vancouver Island and is part of the Pacific Rim National Park. This undeveloped cluster of almost 100 islets and rocky outcrops offers a unique West Coast experience ideal for canoeing, kayaking or rowing. The islands are situated in Barkley Sound, and the outer islands are exposed to the full force of the Pacific Ocean. Within the group, however, the waters are placid, offering lake-like conditions suitable for various paddle craft. A labyrinth of passages through lagoons and narrow channels pass through a panoramic landscape of wind-sculpted rock, weathered cedar, fir and arbutus trees, and postage-stamp beaches.

Broken Island group
Map of the Broken Island Group

In total the Broken Islands Group is comprised of 130 square km and conditions can be found for all paddling capabilities. The outer islands are subject to the rolling swell of the open ocean and are suitable for intermediate or advanced paddlers. The wave-carved cliffs in these areas produce spectacular buttressed headlands, blowholes, caves and arches. The scenery is no less enchanting in the more sheltered waters, and remnants from the islands’ early inhabitants can be found in the way of stone fish traps and village walls. humpback whales, grey whales, sea lions, seals, bald eagles, king fishers and wolves are commonly sighted in this region.

 

Rowing in the Broken Island Group
Rowing in the Broken Island Group.

The park is becoming increasingly popular with paddlers, and Parks Canada has designated nine areas for camping. Most of the campsites are situated in prime locations with good flat tenting spots. Composting toilets are provided, but the camper must bring his or her own water – a scarce resource on the islands.

The easiest way to access the Broken Islands is to board the M.V. Lady Rose – a local supply ship – in the town of Port Alberni. This historic vessel runs daily down the Alberni Inlet and will drop off paddlers (and boats) in the vicinity of the Broken Islands. For novices this is ideal, as major open crossings are avoided. Alternatively the Broken Island Group can be reached by paddling from the nearby communities of Ucluelet or Toquart Bay on Vancouver Island.