Accessible by ferry from Quadra Island , Cortes Island (pronounced cor-TEZ—it was named by an early Spanish explorer) is a relatively remote place, closer to the mainland than to Vancouver Island . Few visitors venture out here, but those who do are rarely disappointed. Aside from three small villages, the island remains in its natural state.
Manson’s Landing Provincial Park is a beautiful little spot sandwiched between a large tidal lagoon and the forested shoreline of Hague Lake. In the south of the island is Smelt Bay Provincial Park, another great spot for swimming, beachcombing, and taking in the unique island environment. Camping at Smelt Bay is $15, or park your rig at Gorge Harbour Marina Resort (Hunt Rd., Gorge Harbour, 250/935-6433, www.gorgeharbour.com , tent sites $22, hookups $28). This complex also has four guest rooms ($80 s or d for bed-and-breakfast), a small pool, wireless Internet, barbeques, bike and boat rentals, fishing charters, and a restaurant.
The ferry trip between Heriot Bay on Quadra Island  and Cortes Island takes 40 minutes. BC Ferries (250/386-3431) operates scheduled service between the two islands six times daily, with the first departing Quadra Island at 9 a.m. and the last departing Cortes Island at 5:50 p.m. Peak round-trip fare is adult $9.20, child $4.60, vehicle $21.50.