Posted by: cherylyoung | December 20, 2012

Barkley Broken Sound and the Broken Group Islands comprise one of the three main recreational components in Pacific Rim National Park


Barkley Broken Sound and the Broken Group Islands comprise one

of the three main recreational components in Pacific Rim National Park.

The Broken Group Islands Unit consists of over 100 islands, islets and

rocky outcrops scattered in the centre of Barkley Sound, between

Loudoun Channel and Imperial Eagle Channel, and totals

10,607 hectares, of which only 1,350 hectares is land.

The popularity of these islands with paddlers and boaters has soared over

the past decade, much to the dismay of longtime observers.

One of the main reasons that the Broken Group Islands are so

popular is that they provide a true west coast experience in

sheltered water.

Port Alberni is not normally subject to the extreme ocean conditions

farther west in the open waters around Ucluelet and exposed

sections of the West Coast Trail and the Long Beach Unit, the

two other areas that attract visitors to Pacific Rim National

Park Reserve.

The ease with which less-experienced sea kayakers can reach the

Broken Group Islands on the MV Frances Barkley from Port Alberni

and Ucluelet contributes greatly to their allure and charm.

The Broken Group is known internationally for awesome kayaking

and wilderness camping enjoyed by organized adventurers

seeking escape to the remote and desolate islands within the park.

Natural features of this tranquil group of islands include lagoons,

sandbars, blowholes, arches and secluded anchorages.

Ancient native middens, village fortifications, stone fishtraps and

archaeological sites stimulate the imagination of visitors to this

traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth people.

Kayakers usually begin their exploration at Gibraltar Island and

make their way through the chain, stopping at campsites on Gilbert,

Clarke, Turret, Willis, and Hand Islands.

All of these sites are easily reached within a day’s paddle (or less)

of each other. Camping is also allowed on Gibraltar Island and

Dodd Island.

The larger of the forested islands are Effingham, Turret, Turtle, Dudd,

Jacques, Nettle and Gibraltar Island.

Camping was discontinued on Benson Island in May 2009 out of respect for

its cultural significance.

Archaeological research dates traditional use of Benson Island for

over 5,000 years.

Tseshaht First Nation’s oral traditions name this site as their origin

place where the first Tseshaht man (Naasiya’atu) and woman

(Naasayilhim) were created.

It became the site of their principal village of Ts’ishaa.

It is from this village that the Tseshaht derive their name, as Tseshaht

literally means “people of Ts’ishaa”.

Visitors are encouraged to visit Benson Island during the day and

return to designated campsites for the night.

Numerous kayak operators lead tours through the Broken Group

Islands – see Premier Listings below.

Canoe and kayak access to the Broken Group Islands from Bamfield

or Ucluelet is not recommended due to the exposed passages.

Boaters and ocean paddlers can access the Broken Group Islands

via Toquart Bay in northwest Barkley Sound.

The unsigned road turnoff is located about 12 km northeast of the

junction of Highway 4 and the Tofino-Ucluelet Highway.

A BC recreation campsite is located at Toquart Bay on the North side

of Barkley Sound providing a boat launch for access to the islands.

The popular Torquart Bay Recreation Campsite sees a lot of traffic

from kayakers heading over to the Broken Islands.

There are about 15 oceanside open tent sites, as well as RV areas,

a cement boat launch, and lovely south-facing sand beaches.

There is a parking fee for those who wish to park at the site but not

camp there.

From Port Alberni follow the Tofino Highway 4 for about 50 miles

(80 kms).

Turn left at the sign for Torquart Bay on to the Maggie Lake Forest

Service Road and follow it for 15.5 km.

The MV Frances Barkley will transport paddlers, kayaks and canoes

to Sechart, on the fringe of the Broken Group Islands.

The passenger and cargo vessel is based in Port Alberni, and travels

between Port Alberni, the Broken Group Islands, and the fishing

ports of Ucluelet and Bamfield during the spring, summer and fall.

In the course of a day’s trip the sturdy wooden packet freighter

drops mail, groceries, supplies, and the occasional passenger along

the way at float homes and the Sechart Whaling Station.

If you must visit here in July and August, be sure to reserve space

for your kayak or canoe on deck well in advance.

At times you’ll definitely feel the motion of the ocean swells, but the

better part of the journey through Barkley Sound is not exposed.

The trip makes a pleasant outing in itself, or can be a link for paddlers

to the Broken Group Islands.

Visitors should note that paddlers are increasingly being blamed

for the trashiness around many of the more popular campsites.

Except at the seven designated camping sites, garbage and toilet

facilities are nonexistent, which should be a major consideration for


Plan how you’re going to deal with these factors in advance of your

journey here so as not to further tarnish an already dire situation.

Practice random acts of kindness by removing litter where you find

it as well as packing out all of your own refuse.

Consult books such as How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer

to learn new approaches to the delicate subject of backcountry


Consider adventuring here in any month other than July and August,

particularly if you value solitude.

Location: Travel to the Broken Group Islands from Bamfield,

Torquart Bay, Ucluelet or Port Alberni.

The MV Frances Barkley is based in Port Alberni and serves Barkley

Sound and the Broken Group Islands.



SIDNEY B.C  www.cherylyoung



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