U'mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay
(Picture BC photo)

Alert Bay


Named after a natural harbour on the southside of Cormorant Island, Alert Bay is located on the edge of the Broughton Archipelago – a densely packed group of small, largely uninhabited islands off the coast of Vancouver Island.

To the north of Alert Bay are the Queen Charlotte Strait and the waters of British Columbia's Inside Passage, which stretches from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. Knight Inlet and the Johnstone Strait are to the east and south respectively. 

Cormorant Island 

Cormorant Island itself is approximately 4.8km/3mi long and 0.8km/0.5mi wide. The terrain rises quickly from the shoreline to a 60m/200ft plateau. 

The Broughton Strait separates Cormorant Island and the much larger Malcolm Island (site of the fishing village of Sointula) from Port McNeill, home of the ferry terminal serving both islands. Port McNeill is 351km/218mi from Nanaimo and 462km/287mi north of Victoria.

Climate and Weather

Wet winters and moderate summers are the norm in Alert Bay. Temperatures bottom out around the freezing mark in December and January, when precipitation falls as rain (usually) and snow (once in awhile). Thanks to the cooling effects of the surrounding water, daytime summer highs average 18ºC/65ºF. Summer lows require sweaters for evening strolls around the bay in August. There's very little wind at sea level in the Village of Alert Bay, except for those rare occasions when a so-called "Nimpkish wind" blows in from Vancouver Island's Nimpkish Valley.