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North America > Canada > British Columbia > Vancouver Island > Discovery Islands > Quadra Island

Quadra Island

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Quadra Island is the largest island in and the gateway to the Discovery Islands off the coast of British Columbia.


The waters surrounding here are popular with boaters and kayakers, and viewing/kayaking with orcas has become a popular attraction. On land, there are hiking and biking trails and First Nations history to explore.

The Cape Mudge Reserve on the southern tip of the island is home to the We-wai-kai, one of the main bands comprising the Southern Kwakiutl (the other being the We-wai-kum based in Campbell River on Vancouver Island). Together they are known as the Laich-kwil-tach (historically known as the Euclataws or Yucultas, names more familiar to speakers of British Columbia English).

The Southern Kwakiutl (part of the larger Kwakwaka'wakw ethnic grouping) migrated into the northern Georgia Strait from Queen Charlotte Strait over two centuries ago, displacing and absorbing the Comox and Pentlatch peoples who formerly lived there.

Get in[edit]

BC Ferries operates two ferries to Quadra Island. The main access to the island is via the ferry from Campbell River to 1 Quathiaski Cove on the west side of Quadra Island. The ferry takes about 10 minutes and runs once an hour — 17 sailings on weekdays, and 16 sailings on weekends. The trip costs $10.30 per passenger (age 12 and up), plus $24 for a car or $12 for a motorcycle (return).

On the east side of the island, BC Ferries runs a ferry from 2 Heriot Bay to Cortes Island. Ferries leave roughly every two hours with six sailings daily, except Sun and Tue, which have five. The ride usually takes 45 minutes and costs $12.05 per passenger (age 12 and up), plus $28 for a car or $14 for a motorcycle (return).

If you need to get on or off the island outside of the ferry times, a water taxi from Campbell River can be arranged.

Get around[edit]


A totem shelter at Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre
  • 1 Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre, 34 Weway Rd, Cape Mudge Village, +1 250-914-8762. 10AM-4PM daily May-Aug. Museum and cultural center with photos, videos and exhibits that tell the history and culture of the local Kwak'wala, Laich-Kwil-Tach and K'omoks peoples. The centre holds an important collection of art from earlier times, items that were repatriated after many years from museums elsewhere. The highlight is the Sacred Potlatch Collection. The adjacent House of Eagles Carving and Education Centre has a photo collection, totem poles, as well as periodic cultural performances. There are also gardens and a gift shop with First Nations themed books, souvenirs and original artwork. $10 adult, $6 youth, $8 senior, $5 children under 12.
  • 2 Cape Mudge Lighthouse, end of Lighthouse Rd. Picturesque spot at the southern end of Quadra Island, which also marks the entrance to Discovery Passage. The original lighthouse, now used as a house, was built in 1898. The current lighthouse was built in 1916 and is one of the few lighthouses in Canada that is still staffed. Please note there is no entry to the lighthouse and no tours. Cape Mudge Lighthouse (Q18398276) on Wikidata Cape Mudge Lighthouse on Wikipedia
  • 3 Petroglyphs, Cape Mudge. There are a number of petroglyphs — figures or pictures engraved on rocks — on Quadra Island. Some can be viewed at the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre. Another easily accessible spot is on the beach south of Cape Mudge Lighthouse and near the Tsa-kwa-luten Lodge. The rocks with the petroglyphs require some hunting and are only visible at low tide. Visitors are asked to show respect and not disturb the petroglyphs or take rubbings. If you want a rubbing of a petroglyph as a souvenir, it can be arranged through the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre.


  • 1 Chinese Mountains (head north on Hyacinthe Bay Rd from West Rd/Heriot Bay; the access road to the parking lot will be on your left shortly after passing Walcan Rd). A popular hiking and rock climbing area. There are three peaks (North Peak, South Peak and Beeches Mtn) with some great views of the Discovery Islands and across to the Coast Mountains on the mainland and the ranges on Vancouver Island. The North and South Peaks are closest to the parking lot; the South Peak is shorter but steeper, while the North Peak is a bit longer but more gradual. All three peaks can be done in a 5 km loop. Overall hike difficulty is considered moderate (the peaks range from 305-460 m above sea level).
  • 2 Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park, end of Rebecca Spit Rd (from Heriot Bay, get on Heriot Bay Rd and then make a left onto Rebecca Spit Rd). Day use park near Heriot Bay. There are sandy beaches, picnic areas, a playing field and boat launch. A fairly easy hiking trail follows the edge of the spit and provides very nice views of Discovery Passage, nearby islands and Drew Harbour (a popular anchorage). Swimming is possible at the beaches although there is no lifeguard on duty.
  • Spirit of the West Advenutes, 1380 Hooloey Rd, +1 250 285-2121. Spirit of the West Adventures offers kayaking tours to see the killer whales in Johnstone Strait. 4- to 6-day adventures including a base camp trip suited for first-time kayakers.
  • Wildcoast Adventures, 685 Heriot Bay Rd, +1 250 285-9453, toll-free: +1-855-485-9453, . Wildcoast offers kayaking expeditions and kayak trips to Johnstone Strait to see orcas (killer whales). Kayak and paddleboard rentals and day tours are also available at the storefront.


  • Works of H'Art, 1536C West Rd (beside Tru-Valu Heriot Bay and Java Bay Café), +1 250-285-2834, . Summer: daily 9:30AM-5:30PM. West Coast gallery and gift emporium. Works of H'Art showcases over 70 artists, artisans and craftspeople from Quadra Island, Cortes Island, Tofino, Uclulet, Powell River and Vancouver Island communities. Also items from around the world.
  • Book Bonanza At-The-Cove, Cove Centre (next to Quadra Foods), +1 250-285-3665, . M-Sa (and Su in the summer). Thousands of books in all categories. Their specialty is British Columbia Coastal books (including First Nations).


  • 1 Cafe Aroma, 685 Heriot Bay Rd, Quathiaski Cove (corner of Harper & Heriot Bay Rd), +1 250 285-2404. 7:30AM-5PM. Breakfast, lunch and coffee, with a variety of wraps and freshly baked goods. Breakfast is served from 8AM-11AM and lunch from noon-2PM. There's brunch on Sunday (including eggs benedict) from 9AM-noon.
  • Herons Restaurant, 673 Hotel Rd (at the Heriot Bay Inn), +1 250 285-3322. Breakfast, dinner and pub fare. Seating options include a lounge with fireplace, dining room and deck overlooking Heriot Bay. $10-20 breakfast & pub menu, $20-40 summer dinner menu.



Beachfront accommodation on Quadra Island
  • 1 April Point Resort, 900 April Point Rd, Quathiaski Cove, +1 250 285-2222, toll-free: +1-800-663-7090. Hotel on the water overlooking Gowlland Harbour. There are a variety of room choices, ranging from single rooms with two queen beds to suites with jacuzzi tubs to three houses with 2/3/4 bedrooms, decks and a full kitchen. The resort offers a number of tours and activities (for extra charge) including wildlife viewing, grizzly bear viewing and fishing. Kayaks and bikes can be rented as well. $168-300 for rooms and suites, $420-500 for the houses.
  • 2 Discovery Islands Lodge, Surge Narrows Rd (near the end of Surge Narrows Rd, about 22 km from Heriot Bay), +1 250 285-2823, . Lodge that focuses on kayaking with a location on the water away from the main part of the island. It's kind of like a B&B and a bit like a hostel (although not as cheap). Breakfast is provided and there are communal kitchen facilities for other meals. Bathrooms are shared — there are four in the lodge — as well as two shared showers. There are kayak rentals and guided daytrips to nearby Surge Narrows Provincial Park, as well as kayak lessons for both flat water and tidal rapids kayaking. Multi-day trips can be arranged through Coast Mountain Expeditions. $85 per single, $115 for a double.
  • 3 Heriot Bay Inn, 673 Hotel Rd, Heriot Bay, +1 250 285-3322, toll-free: +1-888-605-4545 (North America only). Hotel on the harbour. The building has long roots in the community, with the first building dating to 1895. The current building was built in 1912 as a hotel and has been renovated several times since. There are 10 rooms in the inn — a bit on the smallish side, but they are cozy and nicely furnished — as well as three cabins (one 1BR and two 2BR) with full kitchens, a BBQ and patio. The grounds also include a campground with over 40 spots for RVs and tents. Facilities include showers and a laundromat, and some sites have hookups. The hotel will also organize wildlife viewing, fishing and kayak tours, and kayak rentals. There's a pub and restaurant on site. High season (June-Sept): $109-129 (hotel rooms), $249-289 (cabins), $25-37 (campground); cheaper rates at other times.
  • 4 Quadra Island Harbour House B&B, 1462 Schooner Road, Heriot Bay, +1 250 285-2556, . B&B with three suites that overlooks Drew Harbour, Heriot Bay and Rebecca Spit. The Garden and Sunrise suites are one bedroom, while the Oceanview suite is two bedrooms and 1000 sq feet. There's a deck to take in the views and shared hot tub. Open May-Sept. $120 (Garden) / $150 (Sunrise) / $200 (Oceanview).
  • 5 Taku Resort & Marina, 616 Taku Rd, Heriot Bay, +1 250 285-3031. Accommodation types include beach houses, cabins, RV sites with service, camp sites, and marina moorage. Amenities include tennis courts, basketball, bocce ball, bikes, canoes, kayaks, hot-tub, game room. Numerous activities including cooking classes, hiking and fishing. Pet Friendly.


Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Quadra Island is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.