Princess Louisa Inlet – The Eighth Wonder of the World

1st April 2022

Princess Louisa Inlet, only accessible by boat or floatplane, is known by many boaters as the eighth wonder of the world. Here, in the nearly completely enclosed body of saltwater, visitor’s encounter the fjord’s emerald-green water sinking 300-meters in depth. Until mid-June melting snow high above, creates sixty waterfalls tumbling hundreds of meters, and at the head of the inlet is the crowning jewel – Chatterbox Falls.

Chatterbox Falls in all its glory.

The inlet, named in honor of Queen Victoria’s mother, is entered via Malibu Rapids about halfway up the eastside of Queen’s Reach. The reversing saltwater rapids protect the inlet with currents up to 9-knots during spring tides.

Malibu Rapids is only one-third of a nautical mile in length. Its widest point is 365-meters and the narrowest is 45-meters. Most vessels enter the narrow rapids using VHF radio.

Early morning at Princess Louisa.

To port when transiting the rapids is Malibu Camp, originally a resort built in the late 1940s for the social elite. The resort had a short life and sat abandoned until it was purchased by Young Life – a nondenominational Christian youth group. The resort has now been transformed into a summer camp for teenagers.

The slow 8-km cruise to the head of the 800-meter wide inlet is a “no wake zone”, providing an opportunity to absorb the scenic beauty. You must remind yourself that you’re in a saltwater fiord, as your surroundings seem more like a high mountain lake. The mountains tower 2,000-meters above, while the green water passes beneath the keel. There is a calm tranquility, which stretches from the mirror like surface straight up into infinity. Making a turn to port, about halfway up the inlet, beautiful Chatter Box Falls comes into view. Melting snow streams down the face of Tuktakamin Cliff to give birth to Chatterbox Falls.

Tuktakamin Cliff and Chatterbox falls at the head of the inlet

At the inlet’s head is the 50-meter-long moorage float installed by the Princess Louisa International Society and maintained by British Columbia Provincial Parks. The park receives 1,500 visiting boaters annually. If the dock happens to be full, there are a couple other options halfway up the inlet at MacDonald Island.

From the dock, follow the trail through the forest to the base of Chatter Box Falls, to get an appreciation of its beauty. On the way, there are tent sites, picnic tables and the MacDonald Memorial Shelter. The trail leads to the base of the falls, where you’ll discover a refreshing cooling mist.

MacDonald Memorial Shelter provides shelter form the rain.

On a warm day take the dinghy across the inlet to where one of the waterfalls enters the inlet. The melting snow falls thousands of feet over the sheer rock cliffs, tumbles into a large pool and then flows through a couple smaller pools before entering the inlet. The pools are a perfect place to get a little relief from the heat. The once icy water warms as it spills over sun-heated rock, making it amazingly comfortable.

At the end of the day as the sun sets, enjoy watching the shadows and slowly climb the cliffs across the inlet. After sunset it’s a stargazer’s delight, identifying the different constellations.

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(Deane Hislop – In Partnership with Freedom Marine)