Boats are moored at a dock at Sidney Spit in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Short trip to car-free Sidney Spit offers camping, beaches, hikes

Sidney Spit is part of B.C.’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a protected marine ecosystem

The passenger ferry departs the pier at the north end of Beacon Avenue in Sidney bound for the long, thin sandbar that marks Sidney Spit.

The voyage on board the 15-metre catamaran to community takes about 25 minutes and transports visitors to a vehicle-free oasis that is a nature-filled getaway from crowded city streets.

Sidney Spit, with tidal flats, sandy beaches, salt marshes and rolling meadows, is part of B.C.’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a protected marine ecosystem that encompasses 15 islands over 36 square kilometres.

The spit is a hook-like sandbar on the northern tip of Sidney Island.

A stroll at low tide along the sandbar, with its tear-shaped end, takes about 30 minutes.

“Sidney Spit is one of 11 backcountry style campgrounds we have that are accessible by water,” says Breanna Rice, a Parks Canada spokeswoman at the Gulf Islands Reserve.

READ MORE: Protect Canada’s parks from being ‘loved to death,’ says study

Many people arrive by the 40-passenger ferry or take their own boats, mooring at the Parks Canada dock or anchoring just offshore.

It is the ideal place for a day trip to explore the island’s beaches, meadows and trails or to spend the weekend at an oceanfront campout, Rice says. There are 29 walk-in camp sites and most have an ocean view.

“For a lot of people it could be their first introduction to feeling like they are in the backcountry and totally getting away from everything. Once you are there, if you take the ferry over, you are really there for the night.”

There are no vehicles on the 400-hectare Sidney Island and the Sidney Spit area is dotted with hiking trails that lead around the island and to a lagoon, Rice says. The beaches are scenic and offer peaceful walking areas.

A Parks Canada naturalist is stationed at Sidney Spit to point out the unique grasses and plants native to one of Canada’s southern-most locations. Rice says recent efforts to remove invasive plants have allowed the native species of plants and flowers to flourish again.

The Sidney Spit area is also a bird watcher’s paradise, Rice says. The habitat is ideal for shorebirds, and because it’s part of the Pacific Flyway, Sidney Spit is a major resting and feeding stop for many birds.

Large flocks of Brant geese use the park in March and April. During July and August, hundreds of Rhinoceros auklets and Heermann’s gulls can been seen there.

Rice says the common nighthawk builds its nests on the ground, which is one reason dogs must be on leashes at all times at Sidney Spit.

The park’s forest and upland meadows are populated with fallow deer, Rice says, adding the area’s Indigenous peoples are permitted to hunt deer for food during the winter months when the park is closed to the public. The island’s deer population is plentiful and can withstand an annual hunt, she says.

The ferry operates six days a week, with its first trip to Sidney Spit at 10 a.m., and its last return voyage at 4:30 p.m., Monday to Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays, the ferry makes its final sailing from Sidney Spit at 6 p.m.

The ferry costs $19 for adults, round trip, and $16 for children and seniors.

Camping sites for $17.60 per night are available online at www.reservation.parkscanada.gc.ca or by calling Parks Canada at 1-877-737-3783

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Chilliwack Chiefs lose Kevin Wall to suspension

The team’s leading scorer was tagged with his second major of the season Sunday and sits four games.

Man charged with attempted murder in Chilliwack River Valley deemed mentally unfit

Father says son has schizophrenia; Law professor say too many with mental illness in jail

Four chances to see Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra’s Messiah in the Valley

Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra brings Handels’ Messiah to Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Aldergrove

United churches come together to share warmth in Chilliwack

Members of Rosedale, Chilliwack and Mt. Shannon united churches donate 100 care packages to homeless

Lots of laughs at Bozzini’s holiday concert in Chilliwack

Double bill performance features rock n’ roll duo Kitty & the Rooster, cabaret musician Shirley Gnome

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Family calls for change after death of B.C. man at St. Paul’s Hospital

Hospital beds for patients with both medical and mental-health issues are ‘very limited’: coroner

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Most Read