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

VIDEO: Child airlifted to hospital after crash in rural Langley

Jaws of life were used to cut off the roof of a car and free its occupants from a two-car accident.

Sometimes it’s okay to simply try

I feel like a success even though I failed at donating blood

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

VIDEO: Mud racing makes annual Chilliwack stop

Family-friendly North West Mud Racing Association event returns for fourth stop of circuit

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in 2019

PM Justin Trudeau gears up to run in next year’s election

Air quality in Lower Mainland to hit ‘extreme risk’ as wildfire smoke settles in

Smoke is pouring in from the interior B.C. and fires down in the U.S.

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

In response to the Pennsylvania report, Francis labeled the misconduct “crimes”

Ottawa announces $189M to extend employment insurance for seasonal workers

The pilot project provides seasonal workers with up to five more weeks of benefits

Trump rages on Mueller following Times report

Trump takes to Twitter calling Robert Mueller “disgraced and discredited”

BC Wildfire crew rescues lost puppies

They were just leaving the Monashee Complex of fires when they found the cutest creatures.

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

Most Read