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Gulf Island National Park
Even tried island hopping? Kayak, hike, or even auto tour your way across the 15 stunning islands that create the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Look forward to spotting sea lions to whales, hitting the beach at Sidney Spit, and hiking Mount Norman.
One of eight National Park Reserves in the Parks Canada system, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve covers just spans 36 square kilometres on the Gulf Islands in southwest British Columbia near Vancouver Island. A total of 15 islands are within the preserve, including Pender Island, Portland Island, Saturna Island, and Mayne Island.
The park is available to the public year-round, though some facilities and information may have closed seasons or limited hours. Ideal spots for information on the park include the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Operations Centrein Sidney and the Bennett Bay Day Use Area on Maybe Island.
Drive and walk-on Ferry services are provided by BC Ferries from Vancouver or Victoria, plus there are marine charters and float plane services. Even then some islands are only accessible through motor boating, sail boating, or kayaking.
Attractions & Activities
There are many activities and points of interest across the 15 islands creating the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Hiking is big, and each island offers its own scenic trails, including 3.5 kilometres on Tumbo Island, one kilometer to the historic Mahoi House on Russell Island, and a 6.5-kilometre shoreline loop on Portland Island. You’ll definitely want tot try the hike to the Mount Norman Viewpoint on South Pender Island.
There is also plenty of kayaking, canoeing, and boating between and adjacent to islands, plus swimming at Sidney Spit, Sidney Island, East Point, and Saturna Island. While near East Point and Saturna Island, keep an eye out for seals, sea lions, porpoises, and even orcas.
There’s even the annual Parks Canada BioBlitz on Sidney Island each August, which is a family-friendly interactive game where you have 24 hours to find and identify as many plants and animals as you can. Other events include Saturna Lamb BBQ and the Coast Salish Clam Garden Campfire, and the year-round Xplorer program for kids.
Other activities across the island include cycling on Mayne Island, and geocaching on Pender, Saturna, Sidney, and Vancouver islands.