The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve has a wide range of outdoor activities including, hiking, boating, camping, and swimming. Whether you are an avid backcountry camper or hiker, or perhaps just want to spend the day at the beach swimming and picnicking with friends and family, the Gulf Islands has it all. This archipelago is world renowned for its breathtaking scenery as well as its easy accessibility. There is also a very good chance you will see a number of wild residents who make this area their home including, sea lions, otters, killer whales, bald eagles, and more.
Camping facilities vary from backcountry camping for the more experienced and car camping for those who want a more relaxed experience. With about 100 backcountry camp sites spread among 10 camping areas situated along eight different islands, there is no shortage of places to explore. Some camping areas are only accessible by water so it’s a good idea to check out the Park’s kayak launching and parking locations.
The Park also offers a number of front-country campgrounds including:
For those who have never camped or perhaps just want to brush up on their camping skills, Gulf Islands National Park hosts Learn To Camp workshops. These free mini-workshops will help you brush up on your camping skills and teach you to how to cook delicious camp food in fun learning activities.
Want a more relaxed outdoor adventure that the whole family will enjoy? Try a day of picnicking. You can pack your own picnic lunch and spend the day swimming and exploring the grounds. The Park also has some great ideas to help you plan the perfect day outdoors:
- Saturna Island – Picnic at East Point while you keep a lookout for the seals and whales who like to frolic nearby
- Mayne Island – A private 22 acre property that includes secluded campsites, a cottage, and beach access
- Sidney Spit – Pack your own or pick up a gourmet picnic lunch then take a relaxing cruise on the passenger foot-ferry and spend the day at the beach
For those who want to experience a more rugged outdoor adventure, there are plenty of opportunities to take in the beauty throughout the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Most backcountry campsites are on a first-come-first-served basis with the exception of Single Bay which is located on North Pender Island.
The cost for backcountry sites are $4.90/night, per person with fees payable at each site and deposited into the site’s self-registrations vaults. Receipts must be displayed on your campsite post, or if one is not available, then to your tent. These sites are monitored so making payment as soon as you arrive is important. The sites are equipped with:
- Picnic tables
- Choice of tent pads, plant forms or open field
- Beach access
- Pit or composting toilets
Important to remember is that there is no potable water; so you must bring enough to last for your stay and campfires are not allowed in the backcountry.
Gulf Islands National Park also offers a host of cycle touring adventures. For the novice rider, Mayne Island is the best choice with a shorter road network and flatter surfaces. For the more experienced and adventurous riders, Saturna and Pender Islands offer the greater challenge.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is easy to get to from several points from both Vancouver’s mainland as well as from Vancouver Island.
- Drive-On Ferry or Walk-On Ferry – BC Ferries offers both vehicle and passenger ferry service from Mainland Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Mayne, Saturna and the Pender Islands. When looking at ferry schedules, it’s important to check if a particular vessel is drive-on or passenger only.
- Kayak or Boat – Many areas are accessible only by boat or kayak, so when making your reservations, be sure to ask how to access the specific area you plan to visit
To reserve a campsite or find out more specific information about your planned trip, it’s a good idea to give them a call at: 1.877.RESERVE (1.877.737.3783)
Whatever you outdoor adventure includes, the Gulf Islands National Park has the facilities and services to make your trip to the Southern Gulf Islands an exciting and memorable one.