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8 February 2023

Guide to Visiting BC’s Quadra Island

Tidal pool on Quadra Island

Quadra Island is like a giant playground for adults who love going out into nature. British Columbia has some of the best wild areas in all of Canada, and Quadra Island is a spot that gets much less praise than it deserves. This brief guide can’t possibly cover everything worth seeing and doing on Quadra Island — the biggest of the Discovery Islands — but it will hopefully inspire you to add this spectacular spot to your ever-growing Canadian travel list.

For even more inspiration, take a look at our range of Experiences in Vancouver Island & BC Islands and check out the wider range of BC Experiences if you’d like even more options. 

Kayaking and Fishing off Quadra Island

Kayaking around Quadra Island. Photo c/o Destination BC/Graeme Owsianski

Quadra is defined by its island status, with gorgeous shores in all directions. And like all great islands, its people love nothing more than getting out into the waters, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and anything else that promises adventure.

You can kayak to the Breton islands and eat lunch on the rocks; this is the perfect miniature adventure for any visitor who loves getting out onto the water but wants full control of where they go. You can also spend the day fishing, looking for petroglyphs, or swimming at Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park. You could spend days and days on Quadra Island without ever leaving the coast. However, when you do head inland you’ll find some of the best hiking and biking opportunities in British Columbia.

Hiking and Biking on Quadra Island

Dense Quadra Island forest

If you’re a hiker or a mountain biker, Quadra has a lot to offer. It has a high percentage of public land with a large network of trails to explore. The Community Centre Trails Network offers a beautiful range of softer, more gentle routes, while the Chinese Mountains will satisfy most hikers’ thirst for adventure. Just make sure you bring plenty of camera film or memory card space as you’ll want to take as many photos as possible. 

Mountain bikers are spoilt for choice on Quadra Island. Head straight to Island Cycle to secure your ride and get advice on a good route. Deadfish Trail is perhaps the most popular local route as it is only moderately difficult. For more of a challenge, try Morning Beer. This trial is purely downhill, so the challenge is mostly technical. We suggest that you warm up on one of Quadra Island’s many other MTB trails before you try Morning Beer. If you’d like to learn more, check out the incredible Quadra Island mountain biking trails resource on Trailforks.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than a winter hike up the Chinese Mountains or the flatter Morte Lake Trail. Fill your thermos with locally-roasted coffee and stock up on Heidi’s delicious baked treats from the Java Bay Cafe before you set out. And this leads us neatly to some of the best food and drink you can look forward to on Quadra Island…

Good Food on Quadra IslandQuadra Island

Of course, many people go back to Quadra just for the food. Grab amazing pizza at The Clove if you’re looking for a quick bite but don’t want to compromise on quality and flavour. For lunch and brunch goodness, head to The Kameleon on the idyllic Quathiaski Cove. Or if you’re looking for a taste of the sea, head out for fish tacos at the Coveside Seafood Eatery. 

If you’re in no hurry and you’re looking for the most authentic experience possible, head to the community-owned Heriot Bay Inn; here you can catch live music and enjoy a family-friendly atmosphere by the water.  And be sure to make a reservation in the dining room at Tsa Kwa Luten Lodge for a memorable West Coast feast. And if you just want a great cup of coffee, Java Bay Cafe, mentioned earlier, is guaranteed to hit the spot. 

When Should You Visit Quadra Island?

Chilling by the beach on Quadra Island

The answer to this question is probably what you’d expect as the summer really is the best time for most people to visit Quadra Island: the weather is perfect for hitting the beach or perhaps one of the island’s beautiful lakes. However spring is still lovely and it is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to share their Quadra Island experience with crowds and doesn’t want to line up at the ferry.

Fall in Quadra Island is also nice, but it has a majority of evergreen trees, so you won’t see an explosion of colour the way you might expect from mainland or more southerly climes. And, as we said early, the winter is great for snowshoeing, giving avid hikers an even greater challenge. As you can see, Quadra’s an island for year-round exploring; you just need to find the right time of year to suit your interests.

If you have any questions or queries for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Your next big adventure awaits!

This blog post was originally published in May 2021 and updated in February 2023.

Category: British Columbia