Here’s an intriguing slice of BC history. A visit to the remote and rugged Nootka Island not only consists of great potential for outdoor adventure, but opportunity to explore historic sites that date all the way back to the province’s creation.
Surrounded by the Nootka Sound and Nuchatlitz, Esperanza, and Tahsis Inlets, the island is known for its beautiful mountain scenery, angling opportunities, and as the site of the first contact between Europeans and First Nations in ‘British Columbia,’ which occurred in the small community of Yuquot (AKA Friendly Cove).
Now a National Historic Site, the Village of Yuquot marks the location where Captain Hames Cook first landed on the Pacific Coast in 1778 and traded with the Mowachaht people, according to Destination Campbell River.
According to the Nootka Island Lodge, Captain Cook misinterpreted their calls, “itchme nutka, itchme nutka,” meaning “go around” (to Yuquot) – believing the name of the region to be ‘Nootka.’
First Nations have called the Yuquot area home for at least 4,000 years, utilizing the area’s rich sea life, natural resources, and moderate climate to flourish. Among them is the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, whose traditional territory encompasses much of the western portion of Vancouver Island.
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Visitors can retrace the steps of First Nations and early European settlers with a visit to the Governor General Totem, the village’s church, and the renowned Nootka Island Lodge.
Provincial parks & trails
As well, there are four provincial parks to explore in the area with archaeological sites, old-growth forests, and diverse marine ecosystems. This includes Nuchatlitz Provincial Park (at the northwest tip of the island), Catala Island Marine Provincial Park (on Catala Island), Bligh Island Marine Provincial Park, and Santa Gertrudis-Boca del Infierno Marine Provincial Park.
And if you’re looking for famous trails to visit, the 35-kilometre Nootka Island Trail happens to be the finest coastal hike in Canada, according to the Ancient Forest Alliance.
Note that the island is accessible via seaplane, water taxi, or kayak from the town of Gold River.
So there you have it, BC! For a trip that’s as rich in local history as it is in natural splendour, you know where to head.
Nootka Island & the Village of Yuquot
Where: Nootka Island, BC