North Gulf Islands #219
About this region: Nanaimo is a transportation hub due to the BC Ferries terminals that dot the waterfront here, but easily missed by those passing through are the wonderful opportunities nearby to explore. Key among them, just a few hundred metres offshore, is Newcastle Island Provincial Park. It offers trails, beaches, a playground, camping and a wonderfully varied shoreline. Add the paddle-through cave at Jesse Island for a stellar paddling circuit.
Nearby are many other locations worth seeing, one of course being the most northerly of the ‘official’ Gulf Islands: Gabriola, a residential island with a moderate amount of trails and parkland. It is more exposed than most other Gulf Islands, and its large size makes it difficult to enjoy more than a small sample in a single day trip by paddle. Day-trippers would do best to head to spots such as the Flat Top Islands, Gabriola’s very own archipelago and a great kayaking location augmented by other nearby attractions such as Wakes Cove and outer Valdes Island. Two tidal rapids here – Gabriola Passage and Dodd Narrows – add a challenge to any transit, while the ridge of islands that compose the De Courcy Group make a sublime paddling route to reach Pirates Cove Provincial Park.
About this mapsheet: This mapsheet covers Nanaimo Harbour, Newcastle Island, Gabriola Island, the De Courcy Group, all of Valdes Island and as far south as Porlier Pass, Dionisio Provincial Park and Ladysmith.