3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

Northern Gulf Islands

Taking the ferry from Horseshoe Bay, near Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia brings you to the city of Nanaimo and the gateway to the northern Gulf Islands. Heading north from Nanaimo by boat takes you through several small island groups offering good diving. Situated nearly in the middle of Georgia Strait are the large islands of Texada and Lasqueti, where walls and passes can be found festooned with congregations of anemones, large cloud sponges and dwarf gorgonian corals. Travelling north from Nanaimo via the Island Highway, halfway between Qualicum Beach and Courtenay a small ferry takes you to Denman and Hornby Islands. Hornby Island is unique in that it is one of the few places in the world where, at certain times of the year, six-gill sharks can be seen. These sharks can attain lengths of over 6 meters (20 feet) but are found here in the range of two to four meters (6-12 feet). Their appearance here in the summer remains a mystery but it is speculated that they come up from very deep water either to mate or to take advantage of the plentiful food sources. These animals tend to be found around Flora Islets, part of the Helliwell Provincial Park, off the south-eastern corner of Hornby Island. Sighting the six-gill is unpredictable but a successful encounter is an unforgettable experience. The six-gills are only accessible by boat and local charter operators service the area. Shore access is limited.

Doug Pemberton.

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