Off the west coast of Vancouver Island, a vast maze of islands,
islets, and rocky outcrops thrust upward from the gentle waters of
Barkley Sound. A kayaker’s dream, the sheltered hundred-plus islands
comprise what’s known as the Broken Group—a favorite vacation spot
for Vancouver residents and paddlers from the US and around the
Formed at the end of the last Ice Age, the islands’ rugged bedrock
and nutrient-rich waters support ample marine life, as well as
old-growth rain forests, lagoons, arches, blowholes, tide pools, and
sandy secluded beaches. Stone fish traps and the remains of
villages—traces of culture from the aboriginal Nuu-chah-nulth
people—add an element of curiosity and discovery to a paddle through
the Broken Group’s narrow passageways.
The Broken Group are part of the
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
camping is permitted in designated areas on seven of the islands.
All of the spots are family-friendly and include composting toilet
facilities. The fee for
camping is 9.80 cdn.
In 2013 Toguaht Bay was closed due to heavy metals contamination
from an old sawmill operation. This
limited access to the Broken Group and probably enhanced our stay
since we did not have any crowds and rarely had more than a couple
of other parties sharing the camp sites.
In 2014, a new campground,
Beach Campground was opened next to the old site and I would
expect that there will be more people paddling in the islands now.
We entered the islands via Sechart Lodge on the
It’s a pleasant 2 hour cruise from Alberni.
We used Clark and Hand Islands as a base for our paddles as you
can see from the map. When the weather conditions are good the
paddling is gentle and enjoying. Do use caution because
afternoon winds can come up and blow 15-25 kts, if you are on the
outer west edge of the islands you will get the full impact of that
wind and the swells that it will drive. We also experienced AM
fog but it usually burned off by 9:30-10 AM.
You can paddle a variety of routes, our goal was to try and
paddle past every island. You can do your paddle any way you
want. You do have to pack all of your food and water into the
islands, there is no fresh water on the islands.
Don't miss the sea caves and arches on the east side of
Effington. They are great to look at and if the tide is right
paddle through. Use caution paddling these narrow passages as
there are rocks and if a wave comes through you could get pushed
into or dropped onto a rock. Don't forget the duck tape!