How many people live on Cortes Island?

The population of approximately 1000 is an intriguing mix of old and new. Along with the early settlers and their descendants, there are more recent ‘settlers’, people of all ages and backgrounds have come here in search of a more independent and casual lifestyle free from many of the troubling complexities of modern existence. This island lifestyle attracts an eclectic mix of free spirited individuals. Find more information about Cortes Island’s community.

What is there to do on Cortes?

Plenty! Most island activities allow you to explore the spectacular natural beauty of the area. Hike through the forest (Kw’as Park and Easter Bluff are two of our favourites), or take a kayak or boat tour onto Desolation Sound.

Exploring Cortes Island’s sandy beaches is also a great way to spend a day (or a lifetime!). The white sand beach at Hague Lake is beautiful all summer long, while the picturesque west-facing beach at Smelt Bay Provincial Park is perfect at sunset. There are weekly farmer’s markets, great restaurants, yoga classes and talented healers — you can fill your schedule with anything, especially tranquility.

What do people do for entertainment on Cortes Island?

Because the island is remote the residents create their own entertainment. The three community clubs and halls organize and host dances, concerts, theatre, craft fairs, farmers markets and other festive activities. Many of the events feature well known entertainers from off island as well as resident artists. There are annual celebrations such as Cortes Day, Sandcastle Day, bike rides, and others. These events are always colourful and fun and often described as ‘just like in the old days’.

What is the weather like on Cortes Island?

Because Cortes Island is in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island, it is blessed with milder, drier weather than some of the surrounding areas. Our lush rain forests attest to the precipitation that the island receives over the winter. By summer, the forecast is usually full of sunshine, nurturing the many Arbutus trees and Manzanita bushes that love the hot dry areas of the island.

What kind of wildlife is there to see on Cortes Island?

For the bird watcher and nature lover the island is populated by a wide variety of birds including bald eagles, osprey, turkey vultures and many smaller birds that nest on the island. There is also abundant wildlife including wolves, cougars, racoons, mink, deer plus other land based wild life. The waters offer the chance to see otters, sea lions, seals, Orcas and numerous water birds. Nature tours both on and off the island are offered by local operators. Boat and scooter rentals are available at the Gorge Harbour Marina.

Is there cell phone reception and wireless internet on Cortes Island?

There is limited/spotty cell phone reception and wireless internet access on Cortes Island. For example, while there is cell phone reception near the landing at the Whaletown Ferry Terminal, there is no cell phone reception just up the hill from this landing. Other sites with cell phone reception can be found in the vicinity of Gorge Harbour Marina and “downtown” Manson’s Landing, as well as in many areas near the ocean (i.e., at Manson’s Lagoon, Hank’s Beach, Smelt Bay, Squirrel Cove, et cetera). Wireless internet is available at Manson’s Hall, the Cortes Natural Food Co-op, the Squirrel Cove General Store, and Cortes Market, among other local stores. Some stores may charge a small usage fee for wireless internet access.

Is there a bank on Cortes Island?

There are a few ATMs on the island: the general store at Squirrel Cove, the Cortes Market in Mansons, the Food Co-op in Mansons.

Is there a Post Office on Cortes Island?

There are three post offices on Cortes Island. One is in Manson’s Hall, one is at the Squirrel Cove Store, and the third one is the quaint little ‘federal building’ in Whaletown. These post offices are open part days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The post office in Squirrel Cove is open Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

What is the Cortes Island Free Store?

The Free Store is just that! A store where you can get free stuff. The store is run by island volunteers. It is located at the Recycling Center on the road to Squirrel Cove. Islanders take items there they no longer want or need and other islanders take these treasures home to use and enjoy them. Should you find you have things you do not want to pack and take home with you they can always be given to the Free Store (only clean items in usable condition, please). There is also a small Thrift Store in Manson’s Hall that will welcome your donations or would be happy to see you shop there. It is run by volunteers as well.

Where can I buy liquor on Cortes Island?

Liquor is available at three island general stores: Gorge Harbour Marina, Cortes Market, and the Squirrel Cove General Store.

Can I charge my electric car on Cortes?

There are numerous electric charge stations on Vancouver Island, including Campbell River. There is also one station on Cortes, in Hollyhock, Highfield Rd, in Mansons.

Where can I buy gas on Cortes Island?

Gas is available at the Gorge Harbour Marina and the Squirrel Cove General Store. Automobile diesel is sold in Squirrel Cove only.

Where can I swim in a pool or soak in a hot tub on Cortes Island?

The Gorge Harbour Marina offers a swimming pool and hot tub available for public access. Hollyhock also offers hot tubs available with a day use pass on the property, often included with food or massage purchases.

Where can I buy a fishing licence on Cortes Island?

Please note that a British Columbia Sport Fishing Licence is necessary to harvest shellfish in tidal waters, subject to legal limits. A licence can be purchased on-line – look for Tidal Waters Sportfishing Licence.

Please also be aware that at times Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (‘Red Tide’) may be present. Read posted signs or check with the Department of Fisheries in Campbell River.

Where can I find healing arts practitioners, including yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy and more?

Cortes Island is blessed with many talented healing arts practitioners, helping our island earn a deserved reputation as a place with transformation. Many of these practitioners are listed on our healing arts page. During summer there are regular yoga classes in Gorge Harbour Marina Resort. There are other yoga classes on the island, including hot yoga. The best place to check for yoga classes is Tideline calendar.