Desolation Sound Boat Tours – Best Way to Experience BC’s Largest Marine Park

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Are you looking to go on a Desolation Sound boat tour?

Desolation Sound is one of my favourite places on the earth, and as someone who travels for a living, I feel like that’s saying a lot. My first trip to Desolation Sound was over 30 years ago, and it was a life-changing experience. My passion for the ocean was solidified there – and in 2017, I took my children to experience this majestic area that is Desolation Sound.

What is Desolation Sound known for?

Desolation Sound is the largest Marine Provincial Park in the province, with 6350 acres of land and water being protected. The serenity of the natural world, the vastness of the sea, and the incredible connection to Mother Ocean are overwhelming, in all the right ways. With the park being so large you’ll want to plan the area you want to tour. The park is divided into three main areas: Prideaux Haven, Tenedos Bay, and Grace Harbour.

Desolation Sound Tours

View of the marina from the Desolation Sound Boat Tour office

Desolation Sound Boat Tours

We were welcomed by Terracentric Coastal Adventures, who took us on a four-hour custom family-friendly Desolation Sound boat tour which left from Lund.  It was an experience we will never forget (you’ll hear me say that a lot). Our trip started on the dock with a quick safety briefing and a welcome by some of the local jellyfish. Captain Christine got us geared up and with that, we were ready to head out into the ocean.

We sped out to explore our first island which was covered in sunbathers… sunbathing seals that is!

seals bathing in the sun on our Desolation Sound boat tour

The seals were the show-stoppers for the morning.  I didn’t think it could get any better on our Desolation Sound boat tour – but then it did – in very unexpected ways. We continued to tour around what appeared to be a barren island, but Christine was determined to keep us going slow so that we could see all of the birds and animals in that ecosystem – normally we would go right by and not even notice!

There were Marbled Murrelet birds (a species at risk) and they were fishing by diving below the surface. Suddenly, like a bunch of sparks jumping out of the fire – hundreds of little fish would jump out of the water to avoid being eaten by the birds as they dove below. They threw themselves in the air and it looked like something had thrown pixie dust into the sky as they glittered and hung in the air.

Black Oyster catcher bird in Desolation Sound

After some touring around the local area, it was time to head up to Desolation Sound. We sped around the islands – and suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by nothing but beautiful water, forested islands, and snow-capped mountains. The solitude was humbling, peaceful, and stunningly beautiful.

View during the Desolation Sound Boat Tour

We spent the next hour touring through the islands, enjoying special stops along the way. Three hidden treasurers that I loved were:

Aboriginal Pictographs – What looked like a random graffiti mark on a wall had a lot more meaning. Christine taught us about the traditional Sliammon First Nation people and how they used to communicate hundreds of years ago. They used different marks around the islands to indicate areas of importance.  I’m so glad they taught us about this little treasure – it was a great way to connect with the Indigenous culture and history of the area.

Aboriginal Markings on rock cliff seen during the Desolation Sound Boat Tour

Eagles – Being able to see the eagles in their natural habitat as they looked over the ocean for their next meal was amazing.

Eagle seen during our Desolation Sound Boat Tour

Zunga – Did you know that a rope swing is called a Zunga? A word that has made it into the BC Dictionary originated right in Powell River. This is another one of the benefits of having a local guide you around the sound! If only we had brought our bathing suits!

After cruising around on our Desolation Sound boat tour for a couple hours we decided to head for land and pulled up to Scobbel Island. My husband and I climbed around the island checking out all the different views and the kids worked with Christine while she took them on an eco-exploration.

Scobbel Island in Desolation Sound

She had them try sea asparagus and showed them all sorts of elements that were in the environment. Christine brought the kids nets and buckets and they went about catching, exploring, and learning about “island life.” I was blown away by the pure beauty of the island. The crystal clear turquoise water looked as though we were taking a picture in the Caribbean somewhere. My Instagram account blew up with likes as people got to see how beautiful our coastline is!

hand holding sea asparagus in it

And that’s really what this experience was about… Christine got to do what she loves, showing off this beautiful part of our province to our eager eyes. She introduced us to the locals who call this place home and taught us a few ways we can protect and conserve the environment so that they can thrive.

Desolation Sound Boat Tours

view of boats docked inside one of the many harbours in desolation sound

If heading out on the 22-foot zodiac sounds like the perfect adventure for you, here are all of the different Desolation Sound boat tours to choose from:

Zodiac Group Tours to World Renown Desolation Sound

“This tour offers stunning views of the coastal mountains towering over a myriad of islands and of course, wildlife.” 
Half Day: 3.5 Hours / Full Day: 6 Hours

Wild Coast: Desolation Sound and Beyond

“Imagine steep mountains, green water, wildlife, and waterfalls!”
Full Day: 8 Hours 

(This is an 8-hour Desolation Sound boat tour and this is the one that I would choose if we go back again as it would give us even more time to explore, and I love waterfalls!)

Mitlenatch Island Marine Park

“Explore some of the islands of the Salish Sea, focusing on the ecosystem of Mitlenatch Island.”
Half Day: 3.5 Hours / Full Day: 6 Hours

Go West: Cortes Island Circumnavigation

“This trip takes us on a circumnavigation of nearby Cortes Island, exploring the landscapes and accompanying stories of this unique place.”
Full Day: 8 Hours 

Desolation Sound Kayak Tours

two people kayaking in desolation sound

If you’re looking for a people-powered eco-adventure and a way to be closer to the sea, a Desolation Sound Kayak Tour may be the perfect fit. “Floating in a sea kayak allows one to become a part of the ocean and is one of the best ways to intimately explore the coastal environment.” With a slower pace, you’ll be able to immerse yourself with the sea and those that call it home, paddling with seals and a wide variety of sea birds. Rocks will shine with purple sea stars and sea cucumbers, seaweeds, and crabs on the hunt for the perfect lunch.  Kayaking in Desolation Sound is an incredible way to experience the peace that only can be found in the region.

Where do Kayak Tours Depart From

All of the kayak tours depart from the launch site in the Lund Harbour. You’ll start your tour with an orientation and safety briefing before you head out into the sea. If you opt for a full day experience you can expect the added treat of a locally sourced, made-from-scratch lunch!

Desolation Sound Kayaking Tours – Options

Depending on your paddling skill, interest, and physical ability you can choose the kayaking tour that’s right for you. Here are their options:

Half Day Tours

Salish Sea Explorer – 4 hours

“Explore the shallow passages and intertidal life around Lund.”

Sunset Tour – 3 Hours

Embrace golden hour on the ocean? Sign. Me. Up! This incredible tour takes place over the magic of sunset, and yes, I hope to go back and try this one day!

Full Day Tours

If you’re looking to get further out into the area and explore more, they offer full-day kayaking tours that range from 6-8 hours in duration.

Ragged Islands Explorer – 6 Hours

The locals call the region the Ragged Islands and this tour will take you through the Copeland Islands Marine Park archipelago.

Savary Sands Day Tour – 8 Hours

White sandy beaches await you on this Savary Sands Day Tour! With legendary warm waters, you’ll feel like you’re in the tropics. Truly a unique British Columbia experience.

Multi-Day Kayaking Tours in Desolation Sound

If you are an eco-adventure seeker then check out their multi-day tours that will have you paddling your way through Desolation Sound. They offer 2, 3, and 4-day options to help meet your unique trip goals.

Owner Insight: Christine Hollmann, Founder, Executive Director

Terracentric Coastal Adventures Captains on our Desolation Sound boat tour

On our tour, Christine shared a story about how one time, – not that long ago –  that she came around a familiar corner to head into the sound, but a huge black log was in the way. She immediately drove around only to find that this log was a humpback whale! These whales made Desolation Sound their home for the next three months and Christine got to visit them regularly. This was a special story though, as humpback whales have only been coming back to the BC coast for the last 20 or so years. She was able to experience firsthand how conservation efforts have been helping animals on the coast.

view of mountains and an ocean inlet on our Terracentric Coastal Adventures Desolation Sound boat tour

Christine’s passion for the environment shows in how she runs her tours and her business.  She keeps her Desolation Sound boat tour small so that they have a low impact on the environment. She buys local food and products to support the local economy. She sources other products and materials from ethical resources. This company takes its role as a business leader in sustainability seriously and is an inspiration to us all.

In conclusion, I highly recommend exploring Desolation Sound on a boat tour. Whether you choose to head out on their zodiac or paddle your way with a kayaking tour, being out on the water is truly the best way to experience the region. Christine and her crew at Terracentric Coastal Adventures are incredible ambassadors for the region and will facilitate an educational and engaging experience for you.

Desolation Sound Accommodations

If you’re looking for Desolation Sound accommodations check out Lund Harbour House, an on-site property owned and operated by Terracentric. 

Perched on the rocks, overlooking the harbour is appropriately named Lund Harbour House. This unique, one-of-a-kind coastal home has a West Coast charm that can only be found in a steadfast that has evolved over the years. “Signature shingles and whimsical windows” make this house a home during your stay in Lund. 

Amenities: Custom kitchen (stove, small fridge, sink, cooking essentials) bathroom, living room with sleeper sofa and fireplace, bedroom with queen, wrap-around deck. Best views in the harbour.
Details: Sleeps 4. 2-night minimum. Children 10+. Parking on site. Free WIFI. 
Booking: Contact them to book.

Thank you, Christine and Terracentric Coastal Adventures for such an amazing experience!

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About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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  1. What an interesting tour ! You made me want to be there to see and smell all there is to see! What a great adventure for the kids ! How do you get to Lund to start this short little surprise excursion ?

  2. What an interesting tour ! You made me want to be there to see and smell all there is to see! What a great adventure four the kids ! How do you get to Lund to start this short little surprise excursion ?


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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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