Cortes Island is located in the northern gulf islands (area 1) of Georgia Strait. One of the most beautiful of the Discovery Islands, it lies about 12 miles off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, roughly opposite the city of Campbell River. Cortes Island offers an interesting geographical diversity in it’s topography. The southwestern corner of the island offers glacial deposits in the form of fine sand and gravel beaches at Hague Lake, Manson’s Lagoon, and Smelt Bay. In 1973 the 117 acre Manson’s Landing Marine Park was formed to protect the freshwater beach at Hague Lake and the sand beaches of Manson’s Lagoon. A forty acre provincial class A park at Smelt Bay includes 4,000 feet of beach facing Marina Island. There are also marine parks in VonDonop Inlet and Carrington Bay and a lovely forested regional park between Gunflint Lake and Hague Lake.

By contrast, that part of the island north of Manson’s Landing is much more rockv and precipitous and provides boaters with many bays, coves and enclosed harbours along it’s jagged coastline. The highest point on the island is on it’s northernmost tip, Bulluck Bluffs, once used bv the Coast Salish as a lookout point to warn of approaching enemy tribes. The southernmost tip, at Sutil Point, is a low, constantly shifting coastline of sand with a reef of boulder-encrusted shallows extending almost a mile further southward.

The weather patterns, like the land features, very according to location. The Southwestern portion of the island receives a moderate southeasterly a good portion of the year. A winter time “wet southeaster” will tend to bring strong winds, rain and heavy seas. Areas around Squirrel Cove and Seaford seem to experience winds from every direction, a result of local topography. Settlement patterns seem to reflect weather patterns with the bulk of the population around Manson’s Landing and Whaletown and sparser populations around Squirrel Cove, and Seaford.