Is this heaven? No, it’s Princess Louisa Inlet

The entrance to Malibu Rapids and famed Princess Louisa Inlet
The entrance to Malibu Rapids and famed Princess Louisa Inlet

Princess Louisa Inlet. Mention the name to nearly any boater who’s graced its mountain flanked waters and impressive waterfall and you’ll likely see a slight twinkle in their eyes. It was eloquently described to us as “Heaven on Earth” before we untied our dock lines in Pender Harbour for the trip up and has been raved about in books, cruising guides, blogs and in person for as long as people have been visiting its hollowed grounds. (If you’ve never been, here’s a first timer’s guide).

Since buying Yahtzee four years ago I’ve been emphatically told, “Oh, you’ve got to go to Princess Louisa Inlet!” And been asked, “Have you made it to Princess Louisa?!” Until this past weekend, I’ve always answered that question with, “Not, yet!”

And after spending a glorious weekend among the mountains, falls, forests and waters, there aren’t many words to use that haven’t already been said about it. It’s truly and utterly an amazing, awe inspiring place. But I’ll give it a try.

The Way Up

Porter on the bow with stunning mountain views all around
Porter on the bow with stunning mountain views all around

When we rounded the corner from Hotham Sound into Jervis Inlet after a tranquil night spent in the Harmony Islands, layers of clouds clung to green mountaintops that shot straight up from sea level. They soon parted to reveal jagged peaks speckled with snow and the farther we traveled up the long passage, the more the mountains seemed to shred the clouds apart, revealing sunshine and a bright blue sky. And the more spectacular the scenery became.

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It was a feast for the eyes as we wound Yahtzee northeast towards Malibu Rapids, the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet, and we made it about an hour and a half before slack water. Being early, we chose to hoist the sails and sail back and forth across the inlet on a gentle breeze instead of milling about under power to wait. On our way back, we heard the radio call from boats coming through the rapids from the other side, which was our cue to lineup with the two boats in front of us to transit the infamous rapids into Princess Louisa.

Sailing in Jervis Inlet outside of Malibu Rapids and Princess Louisa
Sailing in Jervis Inlet outside of Malibu Rapids and Princess Louisa

Once through the narrow passage, Princess Louisa Inlet lay in wait in all its glory and as we worked our way 3.5 miles down the dogleg our jaws hit the deck. Sheer cliffs rose from the sea and water spilled over them from dramatic, snowcapped peaks that reached skyward thousands of feet above us.

Princess Louisa Inlet is a approximately 40 miles up Jervis Inlet from the Strait of Georgia
Princess Louisa Inlet is a approximately 40 miles up Jervis Inlet from the Strait of Georgia

Near the head of the inlet the pinnacle of it all came into view: Chatterbox Falls. Bursting from the bright green forest, the falls were running in full force and the sound could be heard over the engine far before we reached the park dock. The sheer volume of water was a sight to behold.

Near the head of Princess Louisa Inlet with just a bit of Chatterbox Falls coming into view
Near the head of Princess Louisa Inlet with just a bit of Chatterbox Falls coming into view

Princess Louisa Provincial Park

It was Friday afternoon and just a handful of boats occupied the park’s moorage area. After getting Yahtzee tied up near the end of the pier, we made for the forest and waterfall. When Magnus first notice Chatterbox Falls he stopped and let out a distinct, “WHOAA!”

Chatterbox Falls
Chatterbox Falls

Porter couldn’t help but run down the dock and we soon found ourselves in the electric green forest passing over mountain streams on our way to the falls. He climbed as far up the slippery, moss covered rocks as I was comfortable with and spread his arms open in the mist without saying a word. I didn’t speak either. I just watched him and the cascading water, curious as to what he was thinking.

Porter was quick to scramble up to the falls
Porter was quick to scramble up to the falls

Getting to the inlet on Friday enabled us to spend all day Saturday there before leaving early Sunday morning and we’re glad we planned it that way — and that the tides allowed for it. Our time at the park was spent absorbing its splendor in every way possible, and relaxing a bit too.

We hiked trails with the boys, played on the beach, swam and took the kayak and dinghy for a row around the inlet. Over and over we said that words couldn’t do the place justice and I don’t think pictures do either, but I’ll try my best with a pictorial synopsis of our time enjoying the park.

Playing on the Beach:

Playing on the beach is always a favorite, no matter where we are
Playing on the beach is always a favorite for Porter and Magnus no matter where we are.

beach boys 2

Touring the Inlet:

Jill, Porter and Jill's mom Donna in the kayak. This little trip ended up being one of our favorite things we did all weekend.
Jill, Porter and Jill’s mom Donna in the kayak. This little trip ended up being one of our favorite things we did all weekend.
Rowing is hard work for a baby. Magnus took a snooze on the stern seat of the dinghy while I rowed.
Rowing is hard work for a baby. Magnus took a snooze on the stern seat of the dinghy while I rowed.
Getting a quick shower under one of the many falls that empties into the inlet
Getting a quick shower under one of the many falls that empties into the inlet

Exploring the Forest:

Jill and Magnus stroll across a bridge over a mountain stream
Jill and Magnus stroll across a bridge over a mountain stream
Porter was usually our leader as we hiked and walked throughout the park
Porter was usually our leader as we hiked and walked throughout the park…
...and Magnus did his best to keep up.
…and Magnus did his best to keep up.

Hanging on the Dock:

For a while on Saturday Yahtzee was the only boat on the dock.
For a while on Saturday Yahtzee was the only boat on the dock and we used the end as a place to hang out and play.
The view astern from our cockpit was breathtaking
The view astern from our cockpit was breathtaking

Time to Go

The moon set and the sun rose as we left the inlet
The moon set and the sun rose as we left the inlet

Departing Princess Louisa Inlet early on Sunday morning, we were treated to the last light of a full moon as the sun came up. After leaving the dock to make our way towards Malibu Rapids, I looked back for one last glance of Chatterbox Falls and the mountains above. The scale of the place is amazing and for boaters who have the desire and means to go, I’d say do it. Heaven awaits.

8 thoughts on “Is this heaven? No, it’s Princess Louisa Inlet

  1. We must have just missed you—we left Friday—I think we must have been the first of the two boats leaving. I am just writing my blog post, remarkably similar to yours, to post in a couple of days. Your images are so much better…

    Bruce
    s/v Never for Ever

      1. Sturt Bay: heading wither to Grace Harbour or Rebecca Spit…still haven’t made up our minds 🙂

        Hopefully we will see you around.

        Bruce

  2. What a great review of your first impressions and subsequent travels in PLI. We loved the waterfalls as well (2010). We also took a tour of the Malibu Camp. Did you try to go the trappers cabin? We didn’t try after reading the review in Waggoner’s. lol

    1. Thanks, Al! With the boys, we didn’t feel that the hike up to the cabin was worth a try. And we didn’t get to the Malibu Camp on this trip, maybe next time!

  3. Nice job, Andy– Four years ago Tina and I attempted to find the damn cabin but finally ran out of pink ribbons to follow. AS difficult a hike as that is [and it is] the forest service or whomever is in charge, should remark the trail… hope to meet you and the family on the water this year. look for tina and i on a fire engine red hulled american tug !!—steveandtina AMERICAN PRIDE hull 003

  4. It is a beautiful place and where I proposed to my wife on one knee in the cockpit, she was trapped and said yes, 18 years ago. We’ve been back twice, once to bring new comers and its a delight to see it through their eyes for the first time. – Bruce K Helios

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