If you're looking for a great getaway location, you probably need a number of things all rolled into one.
For instance, you might want groceries, restaurants and cafes and accommodation all within easy reach of scenery, attractions and great wilderness opportunities.
This exact combination is exactly what makes Heriot Bay such a great outdoors destination. It is located on the east side of Quadra Island a 10-minute drive across the island from the ferry from Campbell River, which has the added advantage of being just a 10-minute crossing (a blessing if you're used to ninety-minute ferry rides).
At first blush you might not find much. There is a small shopping centre just up from the ferry terminal to Cortes Island, and the Heriot Bay Inn at the bottom of the same road. Add a government wharf and some houses, and that's the sum total of downtown Heriot Bay.
Spend some time, though, and you're likely to discover the million other facets that make this location so appealing.
If you stick to land, the natural place to end up is Rebecca Spit Provincial Park. There you'll find long beaches to stroll, forest trails, picnic nooks and enough scenic viewpoints to keep you lingering.
If you head on the water, however, the opportunities expand endlessly. Many a kayaking adventure starts from here, allowing you to stay just within the coves surrounding Heriot Bay (a decent outing on its own), or head into the distance waterways from Desolation Sound and Cortes Island to the east or any number of destinations to the north.
Bring your own kayak or rent -- there are ample services, such as Quadra Island Kayaks and Wildcoast Adventures. You can also rent bicycles to explore the island, but be prepared for hills.
Heriot Bay Inn is the historic heart of Heriot Bay, but look around and you'll find alternatives for both accommodation and, for boaters, moorage.
On a recent trip, the MV Wild Coast (the Wild Coast Publishing floating office) ended up at Taku Marina, also home to Quadra Island Kayaks. It's an idyllic mix of cottages, lodges, marina and campsites.
More camping is possible on the waterfront at We-Wai-Kai Campground, a First Nations-run campground at the mouth of Rebecca Spit Provincial Park.
Heriot Bay Inn also has camping, moorage and accommodation plus a gift shop, restaurant and pub. While much of the grounds are pleasantly maintained, be pre-warned some aspects might be considered maintenance-deferred. It won't be to everyone's sensibilities.
Once you have found a niche to your liking, the great aspect is you won't be lacking once you're settled. The combination of services and close proximity will have you cycling to the beach, walking to the cafe and paddling to the bays. Or maybe just sitting on your patio enjoying the views. Whichever your style, you'll be rewarded.
Heriot Bay is a likely staging ground for the future Discovery Island Marine Trail, a project of the BC Marine Trails Network Association. Only a few of the local services have been mentioned here. Kayak tours are available throughout this region, generally referred to as the Discovery Islands though also Desolation Sound, which is immediately southeast of Heriot Bay.