Cortes Island is a perfect example of west coast island living. As one of the Discovery Islands off the central eastern coast of Vancouver Island it is popular with boaters and vacationers alike. As one of the two Discovery Islands with ferry access, Cortes also attracts a fair number of people year-round, and has a permanent population of about 1000 people. The relaxed, rural lifestyle attracts a cross-section of society, from old school hippies to new age environmentalists, from burned out city executives to small scale farmers - and everything else in between. There is a strong First Nations history and presence on the island as well as a more recent resource-based history and on-going presence. The island is 130 square kilometres and boasts some beautiful beaches as well as gorgeous lakes. Smelt Bay Provincial Park is a popular summer camping destination. There are three main population areas on the island, where one can find a public school, a medical clinic, a library branch and small community amenities.
Access to Cortes Island is a 45-minute trip via regularly scheduled ferry service from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island. Quadra Island is a short 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River. During the summer months there is also regular float plane service from Vancouver and Seattle directly into Cortes Bay.