Forest trails, tranquil lakes, sandy beaches and warm swimming waters await your discovery on the verdant Cortes Island.
Nestled at the spectacular entrance of the enchanting Desolation Sound, Cortes Island lies at the doorstep of the breathtaking fjords that penetrate the wild coast of mainland British Columbia.
At the Edge of Wilderness
Getting here is half the fun. Two ferry rides from Vancouver Island, Cortes is the end of the line for scheduled ferry travel in the Salish Sea. Wilderness spirit pervades life on Cortes — amid the dense forests, bald eagles roost in the tufts of the cedar trees and the resident packs of wolves act as a constant reminder of our relationship with the natural world.
Cortes Island is perfectly positioned in the rain shadow of the Vancouver Island mountain range, which blocks the worst winter storms and allows us to enjoy a moderate climate with plenty of sunshine. The mountains of the Coast Range are visible to the west – best viewed from hiking trails that lead up Green Mountain and Easter Bluff – including distinctive Mount Denman, which towers over the edge of Desolation Sound.
In the summertime, water temperatures in Desolation Sound can exceed 20 degrees, making it one of the only places in the world where you can swim in the ocean surrounded by snow-capped peaks. The warm summer sunshine drenches the southern end of the island, where arbutus and manzanita trees cling to the bleached granite bluffs, bringing our lush, colourful gardens into bloom.
A Sustainable Relationship with our Natural Resources
The warm, clean ocean waters surrounding Cortes Island support a strong shellfish aquaculture industry that grows oysters, clams, and mussels — fare that is often featured at our local restaurants. Fresh fruit and veggies grown in Cortes gardens are available at road-side stands, local stores, and the farmer’s markets. And the forest itself forms the emotional heart of the island — the recently created Cortes Community Forest Partnership, made up of the Cortes Community Forest Co-op and the Klahoose First Nation, is an aspiring leader in sustainable community forest management for British Columbia and around the world.
An Island for Recreation
Our Land offers plenty of recreation opportunities, from swimming in the warm waters of our beautiful lakes to hiking along quiet paths through dense forests or watching the tide rise and fall in Mansons Lagoon or Smelt Bay Provincial Park. Whether you’re a hiker, a sailor, a paddler, or a sunbather, you’ll find a perfect opportunity to relax and explore while visiting Cortes Island.