The Discovery Islands are a group of sparsely populated islands in the Discovery Passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. With the myriad of islands and passages, marine parks and beautiful views, they are a haven for anyone with a boat.
- 1 Quadra Island. The largest and most developed of the islands. On the island, there is a range of hiking and biking trails that provide some great views of the islands and the Coast Mountains. It's also a popular base for sea kayak tours and orca viewing. Quadra has the largest selection of accommodation, restaurants and shops in the Discovery Islands.
- 2 Cortes Island. Similar to Quadra Island with hiking and biking trails on land and excellent boating and kayaking on the water, but with fewer options to stay, eat, buy groceries, etc. Often a launching point to explore Desolation Sound.
- 3 Desolation Sound. A popular boating and kayaking destination that encompasses the easternmost islands in the chain (East and West Redonda), Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park and Toba Inlet. It is an area of huge mountains and wilderness with little civilization and untouched cruising grounds.
- Outer Islands and Mainland Inlets — The mostly undeveloped islands beyond Quadra and Cortes and Desolation Sound, including the nearby mainland inlets and fjords. It's a prime spot for salmon fishing, grizzly bear viewing and some spectacular scenery.
BC Ferries provides scheduled ferry service from Campbell River to Quadra Island, and then from Quadra Island to Cortes Island. The service to Quadra Island is frequent, with 16 or 17 crossings a day. The trip from Quadra to Cortes is less frequent, 6-7 crossings a day. The ferries are small so give yourself time particularly if you want to get to Cortes Island from Campbell River. Delay are not uncommon.
Water taxi is another option, albeit more expensive, to get to Quadra Island and Cortes Island. It is the only way to get to the Outer Islands or Desolation Sound if you don't have your own boat and aren't flying. There are two water taxi companies in Campbell River that service the entire Discovery Islands and nearby mainland inlets. It is also possible to get to Cortes Island and Desolation Sound from Lund on the Sunshine Coast.
The nearest commercial airport is Campbell River Airport in Campbell River, which has flights from Vancouver. A taxi or shuttle bus can take you from the airport to the BC Ferries terminal or to the water taxis or to Corilair's seaplane base.
A seaplane provides a faster and scenic entry to the islands at a price. Corilair has year-round service from Campbell River to the Outer Islands or Desolation Sound, and summer service to/from Vancouver. Kenmore Air and NW Seaplanes provide summer service to the islands from Seattle.