Skookumchuck means “Strong Water.” Skookumchuck Narrows is an unusual geological feature. It consists of a narrow opening between the open waters of the Georgia Strait and the large Sechelt Inlet. As the tide comes in and out, water pours through this opening, creating the Sechelt Rapids. The difference in water levels between one side of the rapids and the other can exceed two metres in height. The speed of the current can exceed 30 km/hr. Experienced kayakers can often be seen riding the rapids.
The area also has a rich intertidal ecology.
The rapids can be reached by a popular and easy 4 km hike along a well-developed trail, with minimal elevation change, which takes about one hour to walk. In the summer months (typically starting Victoria Day long weekend), there is a popular bakery/cafe tucked in among the trees, on the right hand side, near the start of the trail.
The trail takes you to the Narrows, where you can choose one of two viewing locations: Roland Point and North Point. If you're looking to see big waves, check out the “Flood Tide”, which can be viewed from the Roland Point viewing area. The whirlpool and tidal pool activity is found during the “Ebb Tide” and can be viewed from the North Point viewing area.
You can download and print our Skookumchuck Tides Brochure (PDF), which lists the best viewing times for each day of the year. It is a twelve-page document, with one page for each month of the year. Flood tides are denoted by a + and ebb tides by a —. Large (L) and extra-large (XL) tides have the more dramatic rapids.
There is approximately a half-hour window on either side of the “Best Viewing” times, so you don't need to be there right at the exact time.
(Photo by Irene James)