Outdoor recreation opportunities and directory for the Southern Gulf Island Vancouver Island BC Canada area

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Meadow Valley properties is a high quality 206 Acre planned bare land strata real estate development on tranquil Thetis Island,
visit our "properties" page for more information on our acreages / lots for sale.

An introduction to outdoor recreation in the southern gulf islands vancouver island and area.

This is intended to provide only an outline directory, there are many fine guides and directories(print and on line) to specific recreational activities.
On this page you will find brief descriptions of the possibilities, rather than providing a comprehensive guide ourselves we follow each section with annotated links to sites which have detailed information on the specific topic. Please check back as we will always be adding to this page. For general area, transportation etc. links see our "Links" page. For details on the area, further tourist information and maps, see our "southern gulf islands" page. For details on Thetis Island see our "Thetis" page.
Visit our "properties" page for more information on our real estate for sale.
For general information please start at our "Home" page.

Most offsite links on this page are set to spawn a new window so that you will have it for reference. If you are checking a number of links, they should come up sequentially in your second browser window, if not, check your browser settings and enable reuse of the window. We have done this for those using a single window browser so that you will still have this list or other pages of our site to refer to, and this seemed a better method than using frames. If you are using a multi pane browser, just drag the links to a new pane or tab.

This is not intended to be exhaustive directory, although we have included links to the best quality sites that we are aware of for each area of interest. Note that sites may change their content without us knowing. We do not guarantee the accuracy of information on these sites, nor do we necessarily endorse their positions on issues. Let us know if we are missing something!

Index to Vancouver Island Gulf Island area recreation.

General-Space and Opportunity

With most of the population of the province concentrated in a few cities british columbia and the cascadia bioregion offers unparalleled space for recreation and wilderness travel.

Thetis is centrally located to enjoy the opportunities presented by the area, whether it be activities in the local waters or longer trips. BC is known worldwide as a wilderness recreation paradise, but the area also offers quieter recreation opportunities such as excellent birdwatching or golfing.

Check out Parks and recreation, below, for links to parks and the essential BC Forest service online maps.
Good general recreation guides for B.C. are provided by:

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Parks and recreation

The pacific northwest/cascadia region has many parks. In BC, the provincial parks and the Ministry of Forests provide many recreation opportunities. There are also some national parks, see our "southern Gulf islands" page for info on the local national park reserve. See "Hiking and climbing", below.

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Bird watching

Over 380 different species of birds have been recorded in this region. The best times are during the Spring and Fall migrations, but there is continuous birding activity. Several aquatic species of more northern latitudes spend the winter months on local waters.

The new Meadow Valley lakes on Thetis will attract an interesting variety of birds during migrations.

Many people on Thetis attract a surprisingly large number of species to their feeders.

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Natural history, botany, gardening etc.

Due to the very high diversity of environment, climate and elevation in the Cascadia bioregion it is possible to explore many different ecosystems within a short distance. This gives those interested in botany, natural history etc. excellent opportunities. Ocean life is also extremely rich and diverse due to the strong tidal currents, reefs and plentiful nutrient supply in the relatively warm waters. There are abundant opportunities to explore fascinating intertidal zones and rock pools during extreme low tides, either on Thetis and nearby or perhaps on the west coast of Vancouver island at Port Renfrew and Botanical beach, only a couple of hours away.

Many residents on Thetis are proud of their luxuriant gardens and there is an annual garden tour. The mild climate and high number of hours of sunshine makes the southern Gulf Islands one of the best areas in Canada for gardeners.


Golf is rapidly growing in popularity in British Columbia and on Vancouver Island. There is an excellent course in Chemainus as well as many more within easy driving distance of Thetis.

We have gathered some course information on Southern Vancouver Island courses from online and other sources and put it on our "Golf" page for your reference.

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Vancouver Island has been described as one of the best cold-water scuba diving destinations in the world. More than 300 species of sea life are to be observed in the clear waters of the pacific and Georgia Strait.

The complex coastline and underwater environment of the Gulf islands coupled with the strong tidal action makes a particularly interesting area for diving. Winter is the best time, with waters being clearer, although there are often upwellings of clearer water at other times of the year.

In the waters around Thetis are many interesting reefs and wrecks, as well as nearby Porlier Pass which is a popular drift diving site. Various local shops offer air and rentals.

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Kayaking, rowing and canoeing

Vancouver Island waters are world renowned for their sea kayaking, including Barclay and Clayqout sounds on the west of the island and the Gulf Islands on the east.

The sheltered waters of the Southern Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands with the interesting and diverse shoreline offer an inexhaustible opportunity for kayaks and small boats.

On Thetis the calm Cufra Inlet waterfront of Meadow Valley properties is well suited to beginning kayakers and to rowers, as well as providing a quiet retreat for all. In our second phase a floating dock will be constructed improving access and allowing easier storage of kayaks etc.

There are more than 30 southern Gulf Islands Marine Parks, with more coming (see details on our "southern gulf islands" page.).

Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland offer many good whitewater and flatwater rivers, offering river paddling of all classes of difficulty. Close at hand to Thetis are the Cowichan and Chemainus Rivers.

Surf kayaking is good off the west coast of Vancouver Island, and there are some very interesting tidal rapids including several within a few miles of Thetis.

Canoe tripping on Vancouver Island includes the Sayward Canoe Route, a paddle and portage circuit just over 47km in length. On the mainland there are, of course, almost unlimited possibilities for long or short canoe trips.

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Sailing and boating

Although the winds are somewhat variable the archipelago of southern gulf islands and san juan islands makes for interesting sailing and boating. This is the primary destination area for Washington State, Lower Mainland and Victoria based boaters. The area provides an excellent starting point for trips to Desolation Sound and the Inside Passage.

Throughout the islands there are many quiet coves and inlets whose protected waters make overnight trips attractive. Near Thetis are many beaches accessible by boat for a picnic or day trip. Many boat charter companies offer their services in the area.

Thetis offers an excellent harbor (Telegraph Harbor) with good moorage/anchorage and two full service marinas. Island boaters often keep their boats at the marinas in the winter and at moorage in the summer. Summer moorage in North Cove at the mouth of Cufra Inlet is also an option. There is also a community boat launch ramp and a government dock.

See our "Links" page for links to sites with information on weather and tides.

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Other watersports

Of course! The area provides a place for any watersport imaginable, from surfing off the west coast of Vancouver Island to parasailing and waterskiing in the warmer, protected waters off Thetis.

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Saltwater Fishing/collecting

Despite decline in fish stocks over the recent years there is still plenty of opportunity for sport or food fishery. Five different types of salmon - coho, chinook (tyee), sockeye, pink and chum are caught here. Other commonly sought saltwater species are rockfish, flounder, halibut, cod and snapper. A short trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island will open up further opportunities.

Around Thetis crab and shrimp are also easy to trap. Clams, mussels and oysters are abundant in the clean foreshore areas around and near Thetis.

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Freshwater Fishing

Nearby Cowichan Lake is billed as the fly-fishing capital of Canada and the Cowichan River is one of the most consistently producing fishing rivers on the Island. A fishing path follows the river for 19 miles.

Vancouver Island and the mainland abound with lakes and rivers with a myriad of fishing opportunities.

Jan/Feb/Mar - Steelhead
April/May/June - Cutthroat & Rainbow Trout
July/August - Trout
Sept/Oct - Chinook, Coho & Trout
Nov/Dec - Steelhead

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The cascadia region is well known worldwide for its skiing.

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island offers good downhill skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Washington and Forbidden Plateau which are located in the Comox Valley. Mt. Washington has more than 44 downhill runs for all levels of expertise. Forbidden Plateau has 15 runs for all abilities. Cross country/nordic skiing groomed trails extend more than 35 KM at Mt. Washington in Strathcona park, Forbidden Plateau also offers scenic trails. Cross-country opportunities are excellent in the Nanaimo Lakes area when snow reaches lower elevations.

Mainland British Columbia

Cypress Bowl, Grouse Mountain, and Mt. Seymour feature commercial ski operations in the north shore mountains just above Vancouver. Their night lights can be seen from Thetis.
Cypress is at 4750 feet, with the most vertical feet (1750) and twelve miles of cross country trails, and offers opportunities for all levels of ability.
Grouse is the closest to Vancouver, and popular summer and winter. When the snow melts guides take parties to the top, then down the 15 miles of switchback roads and single tracks, or you can hike the famous "Grouse grind".
Seymour is a good destination for beginning and intermediate skiers. The downhill has a vertical drop of only 1115 feet. It also has cross country trails.

Whistler and Blackcomb, north of Vancouver, hardly need introduction, as two of the premier ski resorts in North America.

The interior offers many more downhill resorts and heli ski destinations, and crosscountry opportunities are virtually limitless.

See map on our "Detail Maps" page of Washington State Ski areas. This link will open the page at that map in a new window, please be patient while it loads.

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Hiking, climbing, bicycling

Again, the opportunities are almost limitless both on Vancouver Island and the nearby mainland. Follow some of the links to begin exploring the possibilities. The southern gulf islands are themselves very popular destinations for hikers and cyclists. The quiet roads of Thetis Island are relatively undiscovered, and when linked with the private trails and roads of Meadow Valley properties offer owners plenty of variety for local walking and cycling.

The local area holds many good hiking trails, for example the eighteen-kilometer Cowichan Valley Footpath, following the Cowichan river from Glenora (southwest of Duncan) to Lake Cowichan Village.

Just the other side of Georgia strait is Squamish-one of the premier rock climbing destinations in North America. Featuring solid granite, there is every sort of climbing imaginable, "from bolted sport routes, to 2000 ft trad routes to some incredible slabs, to A5 nailups". Squamish climbing has something to offer every climber. The primary feature is The Stawamus Chief, with a 600m face, the Grand Wall, on which many spectacular climbs are situated.

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Thetis itself has some of the deepest fracture zone caves in North America, although access is restricted for safety and environmental reasons. They serve as a winter hibernaculum for rare bat species. Winter access to the caves is strictly forbidden as waking the bats will leave them with too little food reserve to survive.

Vancouver Island

There are more explored limestone caves here than in all other Canadian provinces combined, with more than 1,000 recorded. Several of Canada's longest and deepest cave systems are found on Northern Vancouver including some with several kilometers of explored passages.

In addition to the opportunities for caving one can also take a tour of various "developed" caves.

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Sources, links and Other stuff.

The information on this page has come from a variety of sources, any information from a web source is recognized by a link to the site where the information was obtained, although we can not guarantee that that was the original source of the information.

If we are missing an important link or area of information please let us know. This is not an exhaustive directory, but we do strive to include links to the best quality sites for each area of interest.

We are happy to offer reciprocal links to quality websites that have content in areas relevant to our site. Please let us know if you are interested in this,

We will frequently update and enhance our website, so check back often. We are happy to respond promptly to any specific question, just e-mail us.


Site Guide, help and search


Contact us

Please contact us to let us know about outdoor recreation information, dead links or sites that we are missing, e mail webmaster@trax.bc.ca.

To view our properties or for more information
Email us at info@trax.bc.ca or call Ian at 250-246-4774

Meadow Valley Properties, quality planned real estate by Trax Developments Ltd., Box 9-6, Thetis Island, B.C., V0R 2Y0, Canada.

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