Andy McKay

Aug 03, 2023

Trip report - Broken Islands

In 2016 I was able to go to the Broken Islands, this year I was able to go again with my family.

The Broken Islands is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, which means that combined with the West Coast Trail and Juan de Fuca trail this year, I’ve managed to visit a small almost contiguous portion of the amazing island.

The point of this trip was to have a nice relaxing trip, not long hours of cardio suffering.

Getting there

In the past you could take the Frances Barkley boat from Port Alberni and it drops you off at the lodge nearby. However that’s no longer available because of a change in ownership of the lodge.

So instead we drove to Toquart Bay, stayed the night, and then caught a ferry from the bay over to the lodge (this is optional, it’s about a 2 hour kayak).

Getting there proved to be a challenge because of the daily Highway 4 closures and the range of our Tesla.

The advertised range of a Tesla is sometimes a bit of a lie and I was concerned about the extra drag that the gear for four people (so much water) plus two kayaks on the roof would add to the trip. It turns out it wasn’t too bad and we were able to get from the Lantzville supercharger and back with 9% left on the batter (Model 3 long range).

Day 1: Lodge to Hand

At the lodge we rented a canoe to go with our two kayaks. Of note, the lodge now has a tap for you to fill up on water. It’s the last drinkable water available.

Hand is one of the closest campsites and has some fantastic sandy beaches, with warm water. Hand used to have a homestead on it, run by Annie McKay in the early 1900’s that used to supply the whaling station at Uclelet.

Day 2: Hand to Clarke

With talk of gale force winds closing in the afternoon, we focused on getting moving early. Coping with high winds in a kayak is hard, in a canoe it’s very, very hard. To the point where I was concerned for our safety.

So we headed out to Clarke, thinking that we might just have to abandon on a beach somewhere. We didn’t and the gale force winds (gusts up to 80km/h was forecast) never materialized.

I did get us a little lost, always pays to double check your maps at regular intervals, was still a decent paddle.

Day 3: Benson island

This was a rest day, with a trip to Benson island, a short hike and so on.

Let’s talk about water for a moment. The parks site recommends: “Potable water is not available on the islands. Bring an adequate amount of freshwater with you. We recommend 4-6 litres per person, per day.”

For 4 people, for 4+ days, minimum 4 litres per day is 64 litres of water. That’s a lot of water. We were going through at most 8 a day. That’s for cooking all our dehydrated food - and it was really sunny the first couple of days.

We took well over 64 liters of water and ending up throwing over 50% of it away.

Day 4: Clark to Dodd

All the paddling was memorable, but this day was really good. Gentle rolling waves were coming in, and we spent our time near rocks and seaweed as the waves rolled in. We saw many seals, fish and so much wildlife. Was a real west coast treat.

We stopped at Dodd and found the beach is really hard to camp at, there’s no campsites near the toilet, everything is shade and on a cloudy day pretty much sucked. So although we had “reserved” Dodd, we just went on to Hand.

Because we had to be at the lodge at 9:15am the next morning, being closer to the lodge, made life a little easier the next day too.

Day 5: Hand to Lodge

Early start and back to the lodge and reverse the process we had on the way out, oh and dump a pile of water.

We were able to get the Highway 4 point by the 1pm opening of the road, meaning we were able to get to the ferry in time for a late afternoon ferry.


The Broken islands are just beautiful and a relaxing and amazing way to enjoy the west coast of Vancouver Island. Paddling around amazing islands full of wildlife with towering mountains in the background is wonderful.