Cortes Island: a whale of a time!

“Vibrant Community.  Wild Landscape.  And a little magic.”

Just like Tofino, our neighbouring island Cortes promises a lot on their tourist information website. Nontheless, it took us months (!) to actually jump on the ferry one morning to check it out. Cortes is even more off-the-beaten-path than Quadra Island. It has only about 1,000 year-round residents. The island was home to the Klahoose way before the first Europeans arrived and this first nation band continues to live on it today.  Only in 1866, a permanent homestead by a white settler was built and it took another 100 years until electricity came to the island! Today, Cortes is home to a plentiful abundance of talented artists, yoga teachers, self-sufficient farmers and all sorts of free spirits. Some people affectionately call it BC’s “hippie island” and sure enough, we encountered more than one colourful batik t-shirt and Buddhist prayer flag flapping merrily in the breeze…

lovefest_FotorAlthough the island’s community is small, it’s closely knit and there is a surprising amount of events going on: craft and farmers markets, community meetups and even music festivals! We also came across a Free Shop at the local recycling store where – yes, it’s a telling name! – you get stuff that other people don’t want anymore for free. It reminded us of a similar shop back in Berlin where you can simply borrow items like sports gear, tools or kitchen machines instead of buying them new for a one-time use. We still love the idea! It’s not always about making profit, right? Shareconomy can work, too!

On our first day, we settled on a rather short hike up Green Mountain with stunning views over the Salish Sea and the neighboring islands. We wish we could have stayed longer up there but it was blistering hot so we headed back into shadier areas soon after reaching the summit. After a well deserved nap on a flower-dotted meadow, our next stop was the sandy beach at Smelt Bay, which is one of the more touristy spots on the island. “More touristy” means that you might have to share the loooong stretch of beach with like 5-10 other people haha Compared to a beach on Majorca, it’s still pretty damn remote and quiet. Jeez, Canada spoils us! Smelt Bay truely is a great spot for watching the sunset since it’s facing West and sandy beaches itself are not extremely common on the BC coast either. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to wild camp there so we slept in our campervan down an abandoned logging road that night. Freya’s and ours first night in the van together! Yeih!



The following day, we decided to hike out to Carrington Bay. This destination proved to be an awesome idea since we had the whole bay to ourselves. Seriously, we didn’t see anyone else around all day and felt so wild and free exploring the area. If only we had brought camping gear with us, we would have loved to stick around over night and possibly even longer. About a week later, we heard that once a year, this exact bay is the location of a huge island rave where people have even died before (swimming in the ocean high on drugs is rarely a great idea…). Say whaaat!? This sounds so different from how we experienced this idyllic place…




Although we only stayed for 2 days, we felt completely recovered (oh yeah, like island life on Quadra is sooo stressful haha). Cortes, you gem of an island, you truely live up to your reputation! We miiiight even be tempted to claim that Cortes is somewhat more beautiful than Quadra. But that could just be our impression because we had this magical whalewatching moment on the ferry back… In any case, we’ll be back soon!


One of many whales that followed the ferry on our way back…



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