Rennell Sound is the largest sound on the west coast of Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, cutting 18 miles (29 km) into Graham Island, the larger of the two main islands that comprise Haida Gwaii.
Bounded by the snowcapped Queen Charlotte Mountains, the deep inlet offers wonderful recreational and sightseeing opportunities. The rugged coastline, beautiful crescent beaches and excellent beachcombing along the gravel shoreline, great hiking, camping, fishing and kayaking make the trip very worthwhile.
The western shores of Haida Gwaii are distinctly rugged with little refuge from the North Pacific. The coast generally has steep rocky sides, with little or no beach, and are relatively uninhabited, with many marine areas not completely charted as yet.
When you stand on the west coast of the Haida Gwaii islands, nothing lies between you and Japan except the great expanse of the North Pacific Ocean. Currents from across the ocean kiss the shores of Haida Gwaii, washing up all kinds of interesting treasure.
The most common find on the beaches used to be the glass floats used on Japanese fishing nets, but lately all kinds of artifacts have washed up, from enough dead jellyfish to make it look like a freak snowstorm has hit the beach, to hockey pads and Nike shoes spilled from passing freighters.
Glass floats make great souvenirs; dead jellyfish don’t. Occasionally, you’ll find the bleached bones of a dead whale, or a thick knot of rope. The west side of the Charlottes is dotted with pocket coves and beaches, most of which cannot be reached by road, but you can spend a day combing beaches around Rennell Sound.
On the north coast of Rennell Sound is Skelu Bay, and two substantial inlets that provide sheltered and safe anchorages for vessels plying the west coast; Seal Inlet and Tartu Inlet. A logging camp is located on Tartu Inlet, providing miles of roads suitable for quiet hikes in this remote part of BC.
Location: Rennell Sound is located northwest of Queen Charlotte City on the west coast of Graham Island in Haida Gwaii. To reach these shores, travel north from Queen Charlotte City on gravelled Skidegate Main Line Forest Road for about 25 miles (40 km). The road divides north and south along Rennell Sound. Watch for beach access points in either direction. The road negotiates a steep hogback ridge dropping down to Shields Bay at the head of Rennell Sound.
Rennell Sound is the only point on the west coast accessible by road, but the final descent from the alpine down to the shore is a startling 24% gradient, one of the steepest public roads in North America. The Hill is not suitable for large campers and trailers. Check your brakes before making the steep descent down to the coast. Surface conditions on the Rennell Sound Forest Service road are not the best – the current condition of the road can be confirmed at the Visitor Centre in Queen Charlotte City.
Sightseeing Tours to Rennell Sound are popular with visitors. These adventures take you to wild and remote spots in comfort and safety. You will be amazed by the wildlife and birds, and the mystique of ancestral native villages now uninhabited on the Haida Gwaii islands.
Camping: There are vehicle/tent sites plus several walk-in campsites at Haydn Turner Park on the west side of Queen Charlotte City. Kagan Bay Forest Service Recreation Site, just west of Queen Charlotte City, has campsites located 3 miles (5 km) west of town on Honna Forest Service Road. A second road heads north and then west across Graham Island, to the west coast and a pair of Forest Service campgrounds on Rennell Sound. The Cone Head Forest Service Recreation Site has space for vehicles/tents, and is about 9 miles (15 km) north past the vehicle Rennell Sound Forest Service Recreation Site. Campers will enjoy the calmness, the silence and the dark skies, which make the stars so much brighter in the night sky.
Camping in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Fishing: Fishing in Rennell Sound and the west coast of the islands is very productive, with Springs caught in May through September, and Halibut and other bottom fish generally present throughout the year. Sport fishing is the main attraction, and Chinook salmon are the main target species for most anglers, although catches of halibut, lingcod, and rockfish are also great. Those seeking comfort and expert fishing guides are accommodated on a luxurious vessel anchored in Kano Inlet, the neighbouring inlet immediately to the south of Rennell Sound.
Boat Launch: Anglers heading to Rennell Sound will find a boat launch located in Shields Bay, at the head of the sound, a much-favoured shelter for fishing boats.
Hiking: The beaches of Bonanza and Gregory Creeks are the easiest to walk to, and walking trails provide tranquil escapes into the virgin rainforest. The well-marked 3-km Riley Creek Trail provides a two-hour roundtrip hike from the trailhead at the 6-km marker on the road past the campground at the bottom of the hill.
Hiking & Backpacking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Diving: The west coast of the Haida Gwaii is a diving paradise. Shore dives are possible from anywhere along the coastal road, and a small boat will give divers access to many great dive sites in relatively sheltered west coast conditions. Ask for information in Queen Charlotte City about the best dive sites in Rennell Sound.
Take a trip to Yakoun Lake between Queen Charlotte City and Rennell Sound, about 15 miles (25 km) northwest of Queen Charlotte City, a popular freshwater fishing destination with a beautiful beach and a fabulous hike along Bellis Trail.
South of Rennell Sound is the beautiful Kano Inlet, near the southwest end of Graham Island. There are no communities in this area, which includes the western portion of the Queen Charlotte Mountains.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC and Haida Gwaii on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour include Haida Gwaii by catching a ferry from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands).
Circle Tours in British Columbia.