A Family-Friendly Desolation Sound Boat Tour

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My first trip to Desolation Sound was over 20 years ago, and it was a life-changing experience. My passion for the ocean was solidified there – to be able to take my children back to one of my favourite places meant the world to me.

Despite the grim-sounding title awarded to the area by Captain George Vancouver, the Sound is one of the most beautiful examples of natural splendour in all of British Columbia. For me – truly what I feel to be the best place on earth.  In spite of its far-off mystique, Desolation Sound is no secret – it’s a haven for boaters and nature lovers from around up and down the West Coast.

We were welcomed by TerraCentric Coastal Adventures, who took us on a four-hour zodiac boat ride and a custom family-friendly Desolation Sound Boat Tour.  It was an experience we will never forget. Our trip started off on the dock with a quick safety briefing and a welcome by some of the local jellyfish. Captain Christine got us geared up and ready to head out into the ocean.

View of the marina from the Desolation Sound Boat Tour office
The office at Terracentric is nestled next to the Lund Marina. What an amazing place to work!

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

seals bathing in the sun
The kids were excited to get close to the seals and I think both species were equally interested in checking each other out – cautious and wary, both keeping our distance, but with mutual interest and respect.

The seals were the show-stoppers for the morning.  I didn’t think it could get any better – 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 really 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 the water in an effort to avoid being eaten by the birds as they dove below. They literally 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
Another bird that was interesting to check out was the Black Oyster Catchers. It clung to the edge of the rock and used its beautiful orange beak to break open mussels and enjoy its next meal.

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 love were:

Aboriginal Pictographs – What looked like a random graffiti mark on a wall actually 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 Aboriginal culture and history of the area.

Aboriginal Markings seen during the Desolation Sound Boat Tour
At first glance it looked like graffiti, but we learned that this image was so much more!

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
The kids loved spotting the Bald Eagles as they sat up on the trees and looked down on us!

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 for a couple hours we decided to head for land and pulled up to Scobbel Island. Jason 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.

Terracentric Coastal Adventures Staff
Christine and Krista of Terracentric Coastal Adventures takes us out on a tour in Desolation Sound

She had them trying 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!

Terracentric Coastal Adventures Seaside Explorations
Have you ever tried a sea asparagus? I have! It tastes like salt and vinegar chips.

And that’s really what this experience was about… Christine got to do what she loves, show off this beautiful part of our province to 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.

Scobbel Island, Desolation Sound
Scobbel Island in Desolation Sounds looks like a picture from a postcard!

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 actually 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 15 or so years. She was able to experience firsthand how conservation efforts have been helping animals on the coast.

Terracentric Coastal Adventures Desolation Sound Cruising
Darting in between the Islands was a lot of fun… There was something new to explore around every corner.

After exploring the island it was time for our four-hour Desolation Sound Boat Tour to come to an end and we enjoy the quick ride back to the Lund Marina. A few more pictures and hugs and we were on our way.

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 are an inspiration to us all.

Terracentric Coastal Adventures Captains
Terracentric Coastal Adventures First Mate

I highly recommend this Desolation Sound Boat Tour … whether you’re visiting to check out the Sunshine Coast Trail, or just hanging out in Powell River, we definitely recommend a trip to Lund to visit Christine and her crew!  We’ve already started looking into cabin rentals in the area, and cannot wait to get back.

Thank you, Christine and TerraCentric Coastal Adventures  for such an amazing experience! Check out the video of our trip:

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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