by Jennie Sutton
The Nuchatlitz area north of Nootka Island and out from the village of Zeballos is one of my favourite places for kayaking and camping on the West coast of Vancouver Island. The combination of inlets, islands, sandy beaches and rugged coastline, with areas for protected kayaking and other areas with wilder seas makes for a magical combination.
From Victoria it is about a 6.5 hour drive up the Island Highway past Woss Lake to the turn-off to Zeballos. Top up with fuel either in Campbell River or Sayward. Serious Coffee is a good stop in Campbell River.
The 40 km gravel road into Zeballos is a logging road and thus the road condition does vary but is basically good. It is about a 50 minute drive, allowing for stopping for photos!!
The only place open in Zeballos in 2020 was the Cedar Inn at https://www.zeballosexpeditions.com or 250-761-4044. One needs to book a room well in advance. Christina is the owner and very helpful. There also was no place to eat in 2020 (usually one can order meals with Christina before arriving, even a take away lunch…) so we went prepared with our own suppers and breakfasts. Some folks eat at Sayward if they are there when the restaurant is open. Most rooms had small bar fridges and we were also given use of the full- sized fridge near the kitchen. The Inn is on the left hand side of the road as you enter the village and are coming down the hill.
In 2020 both the campground and RV parks were closed due to Covid. One can check what is open at the Village of Zeballos office at https://www.zeballos.com or 250-761-4229.
One can book a water taxi with Zeballos Expeditions at https://www.zeballosexpeditions.com In 2020 he took 8 passengers and kayaks and all were wearing masks! The taxi leaves from the village wharf and the trip takes about 45 minutes. Vehicle parking is organized through the water taxi company and is permitted in designated areas at $5.00 per day in 2020. In 2020 the taxi cost $500.00 + tax one way for 8 kayakers with gear. ($131.25 each return)
Drive 5 kms/15 minutes West, heading towards Fair Harbour, passing through a First Nations Reserve. ( we had Covid permission to pass through because we were guests at Cedar Inn…) The gravel road to Little Espinosa Inlet is used by local and logging trucks. The launch site is just across the bridge at a very accessible beach. Lots of roadside parking and in 2020 there were no issues with vehicle safety. Plan to paddle out on an ebb as the narrow head of the inlet behaves a bit like a river with currents. It is about a 9n.mile paddle down Little Espinosa and Espinosa inlets then across Esperanza Inlet to Flynn’s Cove. It is a good idea to plan paddling in the morning with outflow winds.
Accommodation: is in well supplied, self-contained cabins with electricity and cosy wood burning stoves for heat. Smaller cabins have 2 bedrooms and can sleep up to 4 people and the larger cabins have 4 small bedrooms and can sleep upon to 8. See the website for photos, information and booking at http://nootka.ca Your kayaks are stored either on the wharf or beach. There is no large indoor gathering area for groups but outside Cedar Cabin 1 works well with large deck and grassy area.
Paddle East and noodle the shoreline as far as one wishes. Lots of coves and islets to explore and at Garden Point there is a good campsite with substantial Brodick Creek….a good place to lie down and rinse salt off of drysuits! Approximately a 7n. mile paddle.
Paddle West- fantastic intertidal at low tide along shoreline before reaching Rosa Islet.
a. To Catala Island- some exposed crossings involved so pick your weather window! About a 15n. mile round trip paddle. Lovely campsite on SW side.
b. Explore the numerous islets around Nuchatletz. This area is very protected from winds and swells. The outer sides of the islets of course have more exposure to swells and active water….and is also where the sea otters often like to be in the “foam zone” area! The islets have a combination of Caribbean-like sandy beaches and rugged, rocky shorelines.
c. Paddle West then South and one can go as far as one wishes towards or into Mary’s Basin. There are numerous beaches all around Nuchatletz for lunch or bio breaks. To the mouth of Mary’s Basin is about 6.5 n. miles one way.
d. To Queens Cove area- open water across Esperanza Inlet to then explore the northern coastline.
The hike up to Owossitsa Lake along a well marked trail is well worth the 40 minute trip. Lovely fresh water (brisk!) and a raft to sit on and bask in the warm sun…if out!
Sit on your verandah with your binoculars and watch and listen to the Humpback whales in front of the resort!
Enjoy watching the sea otters
Incredible starry night skies down on the wharf as there are no lights! And if lucky, phosphorescence in the ocean…
Flynn’s Cove by Bethine Flynn
The Flying Flynns by Bethine Flynn
Chart 3676 for Nuchatlitz area