Raft Cove: Discovering the Hidden Gem of Vancouver Island

Raft Cove

Raft Cove, located on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, is a true hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This secluded cove boasts stunning beaches, picturesque hiking trails, and an abundance of wildlife, all in a tranquil and peaceful setting.

But Raft Cove is more than just a beautiful destination; it is also a place of historical and cultural significance. The area has been inhabited by First Nations for thousands of years, and the cove was once used as a landing spot for rafts of logs, hence its name.

It is crucial to preserve the natural beauty of Raft Cove for future generations to enjoy. The area is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including bald eagles, black bears, and sea otters. By respecting the environment and practicing responsible tourism, we can ensure that Raft Cove remains an untouched paradise for years to come. Let’s dive into this incredible destination and discover what makes Raft Cove so special.

Getting to Raft Cove

Access Points

Raft Cove is located on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, approximately 20 km west of Port Hardy. There are two main access points to the cove: the main trailhead off of San Josef Bay Road and the beach access off of Holberg Road.

The main trailhead is located about 45 minutes from Port Hardy, and the trail itself is a moderate 2.5 km hike through lush rainforest and over wooden boardwalks. Alternatively, the beach access point is an 8 km drive from Holberg, followed by a short walk down a steep path to the beach.

Transportation Options

The best way to get to Raft Cove is by car. From Port Hardy, take Highway 19 south, then turn west onto San Josef Bay Road or Holberg Road, depending on which access point you prefer.

If you don’t have a car, you can also reach Raft Cove by hiking the North Coast Trail, which passes through the area. The trail is a challenging 43 km trek that takes approximately 4-7 days to complete.

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Another option is to take a boat or kayak to Raft Cove. The cove offers sheltered anchorage for small boats, and the surrounding waters are ideal for kayaking and exploring the rugged coastline.

Recommended Gear and Supplies

When visiting Raft Cove, it’s essential to come prepared with the right gear and supplies. Some essential items to bring include:

  • A good pair of hiking shoes or boots
  • Warm and waterproof clothing
  • A tent and sleeping bag if camping overnight
  • Plenty of food and water
  • A first aid kit and emergency supplies
  • Bear spray and other wildlife deterrents

By bringing the right gear and supplies, you can fully enjoy everything that Raft Cove has to offer.

Exploring Raft Cove

Raft Cove offers a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a beach bum, a hiking enthusiast, or a wildlife lover, there is something for everyone at this stunning destination. Here’s an overview of Raft Cove’s top attractions and activities:


Raft Cove is home to several beautiful and secluded beaches, perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and relaxing. The main beach is a long stretch of sand, bordered by towering cliffs and backed by lush rainforest. The beach is also a great spot for surfing, with consistent waves and a stunning backdrop.

Hiking Trails

Raft Cove is a hiker’s paradise, with several trails that wind through the lush rainforest and along the rugged coastline. The most popular trail is the 2.5 km hike from the parking lot to the main beach. The trail is relatively easy and takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. There are also several other trails in the area that offer more challenging terrain and stunning views.

Wildlife Watching

Raft Cove is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bald eagles, black bears, sea otters, and whales. Visitors can spot these animals from the beach or hiking trails, but it’s important to keep a safe distance and respect their space. Binoculars and a camera are essential for wildlife watching at Raft Cove.


For those who want to stay overnight, Raft Cove offers several primitive campsites right on the beach. These campsites are first-come, first-served, and there are no amenities, so visitors must bring their own water and supplies. Camping at Raft Cove is a truly unique experience, with the sound of the waves lulling you to sleep and the stars shining bright overhead.

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Safety Tips and Precautions

As with any wilderness area, it’s essential to take precautions and practice safe habits when visiting Raft Cove. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from wildlife.
  • Stay on designated trails and follow signs and warnings.
  • Pack out all of your garbage and leave no trace.
  • Bring plenty of water and supplies, as there are no amenities at the campsite.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for changing conditions.

With these tips in mind, visitors can enjoy all that Raft Cove has to offer while staying safe and respecting the environment.

The Natural Wonders of Raft Cove

Flora and Fauna

Raft Cove is a natural wonderland, home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The area is covered in lush temperate rainforest, with towering cedar and hemlock trees lining the hiking trails. The forest floor is covered in a stunning array of wildflowers, including trilliums and salmonberry.

But it’s not just the land-based wildlife that makes Raft Cove so special. The cove is home to a variety of marine life, including sea otters, harbor seals, and humpback whales. The nearby reefs and tide pools are teeming with colorful fish and other sea creatures, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.

Importance of Preservation

It’s essential to preserve Raft Cove’s natural habitats and biodiversity. The area provides a critical habitat for many species, including some that are endangered or threatened. By respecting the environment and practicing responsible tourism, we can help protect these vulnerable ecosystems and ensure that they remain intact for future generations to enjoy.

One of the ways we can support Raft Cove’s preservation efforts is by participating in organized beach cleanups. These events help remove litter and debris from the beach, preventing it from being washed out to sea and harming marine life. Additionally, we can avoid disturbing wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not feeding or interacting with them.

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Let’s work together to protect the natural wonders of Raft Cove and ensure that this beautiful destination remains a haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts alike.

The Rich History and Culture of Raft Cove

First Nations History

Raft Cove has been a significant area for First Nations communities for thousands of years. The Tlatlasikwala and Quatsino First Nations have lived in the area for generations and have a deep connection to the land and sea.

Significance of Raft Cove in Indigenous History

Raft Cove was an essential location for the First Nations people, as it was a significant trading area and a source of food and resources. The cove was also used as a ceremonial site, where important rituals and traditions were performed.

Respecting and Honoring Indigenous Heritage and Land Rights

It is crucial to acknowledge and respect the cultural significance of Raft Cove and all First Nations land. Visitors should be mindful of their impact on the environment and the local communities, and practice responsible tourism. Supporting Indigenous-led conservation efforts and educating oneself about the history and culture of the area is also essential in preserving the land’s heritage and upholding Indigenous land rights.

Supporting Raft Cove’s Conservation Efforts

Raft Cove is a precious natural treasure that needs to be preserved and protected. Various local and national organizations are dedicated to ensuring that this stunning destination remains untouched for future generations to enjoy.

One such organization is the Friends of Raft Cove Society, a non-profit group that aims to promote the conservation of Raft Cove’s natural environment and cultural heritage. The society works to educate visitors about the importance of preserving the area’s delicate ecosystem and encourages responsible tourism practices.

Another organization that supports Raft Cove’s conservation efforts is the Ancient Forest Alliance, a group that advocates for the protection of British Columbia’s old-growth forests. The Ancient Forest Alliance recognizes the significance of Raft Cove’s old-growth forests and works to ensure that they are preserved for years to come.

As visitors, we can also do our part in supporting Raft Cove’s conservation efforts. By practicing Leave No Trace principles and respecting the environment, we can help minimize our impact on the area. Additionally, volunteering with local organizations or making donations can go a long way in supporting the conservation of Raft Cove.

In conclusion, Raft Cove is a truly special destination that deserves to be preserved and protected. By supporting local organizations, practicing responsible tourism, and respecting the environment, we can ensure that Raft Cove remains a hidden gem for generations to come. Let’s do our part in preserving this natural treasure and keeping the spirit of Raft Cove alive.

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