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Broken Group Islands

Pacific Rim National Park

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The islands lie south of the park's Long Beach unit and the town of Ucluelet. To the southeast is the small port village of Bamfield. To the east of the islands is Barkley Sound, a long inlet, and the town of Port Alberni. Boat trips to the Broken Group are available from all three communities. They are also accessible by motor and sail boats, from Bamfield or Ucluelet, although the waters can be rough enough to make canoeing and kayaking to the islands very risky. Better to take a larger commercial boat to the islands and launch your canoe in the more sheltered waters.

The quiet nature of the islands wasn't always so. The Nuu-chah-nulth lived on several islands before the arrival of Europeans in the region. Then, exploring mariners arrived on the islands, followed by miners, traders, and others who came to escape the stress of civilization. Hermits could really be hermits in this secluded archipelago. Habitation has been forbidden since the creation of the park, except for native reserves on Nettle, Keith, and Effingham Islands. These reservations are closed to the public. Pets are not permitted on any of the islands.

With more than 100 islands, some no larger than large rocks poking out of the sea, the group is a haven for many species of marine life including sea lions, seals, whales, and porpoises. The tide pools are filled with seashell creatures and other marine life.

The super-abundant marine life found in the group is the result of a deep ocean trench lying just off the continental shelf on which Vancouver Island lies. Much like Monterey Bay, the Pacific trench generates huge upwellings of nutrients, creating plankton which nurtures the marine creatures. Birds too are a part of island life, nesting in the many caves and surge channels.

Camping

Camping is permitted on several islands, but only in eight designated campsites. The easier places to reach by boat are Gibralter, Dodd or Willis islands. Skilled boaters could succeed at getting ashore on Gilbert, Benson and Clarke islands. The ship Lady Rose sails daily from Port Alberni, landing on Gibraltar Island as well as at the town of Bamfield. Toquart Bay, accessible via a logging road, is also a gateway to the islands for private boats. The waters of Barkley Sound are studded with reefs, and morning fog often shrouds the islands. The islands are rugged, with few beaches or tidal flats, but there are sheltered inlets at Hand, Gibraltar and Jacques islands.

Need To Know

For those with larger boats, protected anchorages are available in Effingham Bay, and in the bay between Dodd, Willis and Turtle islands.

The Broken Group has recently become a mecca for divers. Several shipwrecks lie between the islands, although these wooden ships have become unstable over the past century or two. The marine life alone is reason enough to bring your diving gear.

Anyone wishing to explore the waters of the Broken Group should be sure to obtain Marine Chart 3670, available at marinas and outdoor supply stores in the nearby towns. The chart may also be purchased ($8 at last report) from the Canadian Hydrographic Service, 9860 West Saanich Road, Box 6000, Sidney, B.C. V8L 4B2. Tide tables should also be used. Use the tide table for Tofino, found in Volume 6, Canadian Tide and Current Tables, usually obtained at the same places. Another handy reference is the Small Graft Guide -- Volume One, published by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Because of the fragility of the islands' surfaces, some park etiquette should be observed. Visitors are asked not to build fires of create new paths across the islands. Camp stoves are suggested. For health reasons, the harvesting and eating of shellfish is not permitted, and visitors are warned not to eat clams, mussels, and oysters which may be affected by red tide in Barkley Sound.

The growing interest in the islands, with a recent increase in summer visitors, has caused Parks Canada to consider the possibility of rationing visits. We suggest that you write for full information on the Broken Group to: Superintendent, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Box 280, Ucluelet, B.C. V0R 3A0, or call the year-round park information office at (250) 726-7721. The seasonal information center at Long Beach is open from mid-March to mid-October, call (250) 726-4212.

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Pacific Rim NP Pages:

Introduction


Getting There

Long Beach Wild Life

Camping & Trails


Broken Group Islands


Where to Stay


Enjoying the Wilderness


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