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 Info Centre in Queen Charlotte City.
View a Map of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).