Escape to nature — Enjoy Gulf Islands National Park

Campers at Sidney Spit, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Campers at Sidney Spit, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

The Gulf Islands have long been described as a place to relax, rejuvenate and recharge from the hectic pace of today’s busy life. And the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve offers a host of incredible experiences for you to accomplish those goals.

Surrounded by growing urban centres, the islands are an oasis of sorts, offering an opportunity to connect with the landscape and revel in the life that thrives within it.

Gulf Islands National Park will appeal whether you’re an avid kayaker who loves to explore the fascinating shorelines and sheltered bays of the Gulf Islands or on vacation with your family, island hopping to the various markets and beaches.

On Pender Island visitors can enjoy a challenging shore-to-sky hiking experience up to the summit of Mount Norman and be rewarded by beautiful panoramic views of the islands.

If you’re on the road for an adventure, then consider camping at Prior Centennial Campground. Set in a quiet forest of ferns, cedar and fir, it’s a great base from which to explore the rest of the Penders. Marvel at the breathtaking sunset at East Point on Saturna Island and learn about the diversity of species that become active at dusk through the local park interpreter, or go for a stroll down the trail at Winter Cove and enjoy the sights and sounds of a wetland while gazing over the exposed waters of the open Strait of Georgia.

If beaches are your first love, take a kayak to Princess Margaret (Portland Island) and paddle the quiet coves. stopping for lunch at Arbutus Point or Princess Bay, then make your way to close-by Russell Island and discover the stories of Hawaiians who settled there more than a century ago.

Have a picnic at the Gulf Islands National Park’s Sidney Spit, just a short ferry ride away from the town of Sidney, and pull your lounge chair out to settle in with your book while the kids dig their toes into the warm sandy expanse of this popular summer destination. You may even want to stay for a few days and camp under the stars. As a new service this year, Sidney Spit campground has been added to the park’s reservation service.

For those who are drawn to gadgets and treasure hunts, check out the national park’s new geocaching program. You can even collect your very own geo-coin.

If you enjoy exploring and learning at your own pace, take a look at the number of interpretation panels in the park this year. You will discover interesting tidbits about the rich natural and cultural heritage of the area.

To learn more about special events, interpretation programs or geocaching at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, visit the national parks website. You can also contact the park office at 250-654-4000 or toll free at 1-866-944-1744.

 – With files from Francine Burnett, Promotions Officer, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Photo/media credit: Gulf Islands National Park