There are many places in this world that are highly overrated. Princess Louisa Inlet is not one of them. It is one of those places that is, almost impossibly, even more beautiful than people say it is. If you have ever heard the name uttered, you have most likely heard stories of the incredible chatterbox falls and tall cliffs, but to hear those stories doesn’t even scratch the surface of how amazing this place is.
Nestled close to the end of Jervis Inlet between steep, high mountains and fast flowing rapids is a fjord known as Princess Louisa Inlet. This incredible place, which has become somewhat of a pilgrimage and rite of passage for boaters in the Pacific Northwest, is beautiful beyond words.
I knew very little about this place before we decided to embark on the 9 hour journey up Jervis Inlet, but Logan had been dreaming about visiting for many years. In all honesty, I wasn’t very excited about the journey. Everyone we knew who had been up there had told us how amazing it was, but we had visited so many incredible, pristine natural places that summer and I found it hard to believe that somewhere that was so highly visited by people would live up to the hype. How often do you visit a tourist destination that is actually as amazing as people say it is? Almost never. I was convinced Princess Louisa would be the same.
Despite my reservations, this trip had been the pinnacle of discussion all summer. We planned to meet up with our friends Marty and Mae on SV Wind Gypsy for this journey. This would also be their first journey up the inlet and everyone was more excited than me about the adventure 🙂
By the time we were able to make our way up to Princess Louisa, the September days were showing up shorter and shorter. The morning we left, the sky was clear without a cloud to be seen and the water was glass calm without a ripple. It was horrible for sailing but more than we could have asked for in terms of quality sight seeing. On top of calm weather, before we had even left our anchorage we witnessed a humpback whale feeding. This place was paradise before we had even reached our destination.
It didn’t take long to change my mind about whether or not this adventure was worth the hype. Before we had made our way into Jervis Inlet proper, the inlet that leads to Princess Louisa, we were surrounded by towering mountains and steep cliffs that plummeted into the sea. This was not a place to attempt to anchor as the water right up to the shore was hundreds of feed deep, but it was a magnificent place to be exploring while motoring.
Our trip up was 90% motor and 10% sailing in very light winds, but we took advantage of every breeze we could and enjoyed every moment of sunshine and calm when the sails weren’t up. Honestly the journey itself was one of the biggest highlights to me. Spending time in Princess Louisa was also amazing, but this journey was so beautiful and so peaceful (minus the engine) that I wouldn’t have minded if it had lasted a few more hours.
We made it to Malibu Rapids just outside of Princess Louisa Inlet about an hour before slack. These rapids run very fast with dangerous rocks, so we were not willing to chance them before the water was calm. Instead we rafted up to Wind Gypsy, made some dinner and enjoyed the evening before heading through the rapids at slack.
We arrived to the first park moorings as the sun was setting and settled in while watching the stars appear in the clear sky above us.
The next morning couldn’t have been more different from the day before. Our warmth and clear skies had been replaced with classic Pacific Northwest weather. Clouds snuggled the mountains as the rain drizzled and fell on us and Papa Rumba.
Later that day we puttered deeper into the inlet towards Chatterbox Falls. We found a spot at the dock while Mae and Marty took the only free mooring beneath a couple of beautiful waterfalls along the cliff’s edge. The dock was great. It was easy to walk Max and easy access to Chatterbox Falls, but it just wasn’t quite as secluded and quiet as we were wanting.
So the next morning with the wave of people leaving, Logan and I hurried our way over to the moorings so we could also snag ourselves a spot beneath the cliff waterfalls. This was my favourite decision all trip. I don’t know what it was about being anchored beneath a waterfall that we could swim into from the boat, being surrounded by misty clouds and being hugged by the incredibly cliffs of rainforest, but this place felt like the most peaceful and healing place I have ever been. I could have spent months just hanging out on that mooring and staring at the scenery all around us.
We hung out there for a few more days, hiked to the trappers cabin and just enjoyed this amazing and tranquil place. On our way back out and across the Salish Sea to Nanaimo, we battled a 20 knot head wind and wondered why we had even bothered to leave, but such in life.
You can watch this entire adventure in video form on our Youtube channel Wayward Life Sailing. Just head over to playlists and look for Princess Louisa Inlet!
By Wayward Life