Cortes Island Beach Walk

by Lauren Braden on September 28, 2011

in Trip Ideas

Sometimes you really don’t know how much you need a respite until you’re there. I just needed a break—from routine, from traffic, from problems, from life.

On a remote island off the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, I slowed down. Way down.

little crab

When the tide is out, even if it is 6am, you have to get out there. Pull on your gumboots, grab your camera and go. Because this is what you will see.

Starfish on Cortes Island

That’s the Purple Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus), though I doubt Salish Sea residents will give you the side eye if you call it a starfish.

My favorite colors in the world are purples and greens. There were plenty of these rich shades found on the Cortes Island beach I explored on a recent morning. A verdant tangle of seagrass had washed up onto the rocks. A local naturalist told me that Cortes Island folks sometimes pile this stuff atop a garden bed over winter.

Seagrass on Cortes Island


Rocks at low tide

The beach I explored was at Hollyhock, a retreat center on the southern tip of Cortes Island. People make the trip up to Hollyhock for many reasons, from yoga retreats to immersion guitar instruction. I came to Hollyhock by way of plane, car and ferry for a technology and social change summit. The journey was long and tiring, but provided a nice transition from city to island.

I soon discovered that us humans weren’t the only ones to make the long journey for a respite on Cortes Island.

migratory shorebird tracks

Hollyhock’s season runs April – October every year, and you will still find space available for some of 2011’s remaining programs. Rates include lodging, programming and three delicious, healthy meals a day.


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