Camping at Sidney Spit

Parks, camping & the great outdoors

Discover camping in parks, on beaches and by local lakes

  • Thu May 9th, 2013 3:00pm
  • Life

Camping is one of the best ways to explore Vancouver Island. Choose from facilities ranging from full-service RV parks with amenities such as laundromats and stores to hike-in wilderness sites. Many provincial parks on Vancouver Island feature campgrounds and some have sites that can be reserved ahead. A reservation fee may apply in addition to the regular overnight fee. For information and to make reservations, call Discover Camping at 1-800-689-9025 or visit www.discovercamping.ca

• Privately owned and operated campgrounds are located throughout Vancouver Island. For other private campground locations, ask at local Visitor Centres or call 1-800-HELLO BC.

• The Ministry of Forests also maintains a number of forest service campgrounds on Vancouver Island. A camping pass is required for overnight camping in these sites and the funds are used to maintain the sites for future campers. At a limited number of sites, an enhanced fee is required. Passes are available from government agents and vendors throughout Vancouver Island. Enhanced fees are collected at the campgrounds.

South Island

Island View Beach – This park has a long, sandy, ocean beach with a boat launch and is an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon beachcombing, bird watching, and sunbathing. Located on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria. No camping.

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve – An archipelago of sheltered islands, islets and reefs with spectacular views, unique plant species and diverse wildlife. Recreational opportunities include boating, kayaking, camping, hiking and more.

Elk and Beaver Lake Park – A very popular place in the summer, this park offers beaches, wind surfing, rowing, fishing, and a hiking, walking, and horseback riding trail that circles the lakes. Located just north of Victoria off Highway 17 (Pat Bay Highway). Day-use only.

Beacon Hill Park – The crown jewel of Victoria’s many city parks, Beacon Hill Park is a beautifully landscaped park with gardens, fountains and lakes, playing fields, a children’s zoo, duck ponds, and walkways. Perfect for picnics and lazy afternoons. No camping. Located five minutes east of downtown Victoria.

Goldstream Provincial Park – Minutes from the bustle of Victoria, this park features 700-year-old Douglas firs, a salmon spawning river, waterfalls, and hiking trails. The visitor centre and day-use area is a five-minute walk from the parking lot. Just north of Victoria on Highway 1. Campground and picnic sites.

East Sooke Park – Hiking trails, ocean views, forest walks, and meadows make this another good day park. Check the map at the park entrance to choose the trails suitable for your group. The longest trail takes about seven hours to complete, so be sure to allow enough time before the sun sets. Located west of Victoria along Highway 14. There is no camping in the park, but there are privately owned campgrounds in the area.

French Beach Provincial Park – A gorgeous beach, a nice campground, and plenty of picnic spots make this a good choice for families. Located just beyond the Sooke townsite off Highway 14.

Juan de Fuca Marine Park – Stretching 47 kilometres along the west coast of the island between China Beach and Botanical Beach, this park offers hiking adventures to both experienced and novice hikers. The trail is accessible from several points off Highway 14 west of Victoria. A good map is required if you plan to hike beyond the beach areas. Check with local Visitor Centres for more information. Camping is available for hikers along the route; drive-in campsites are available at China Beach.

Gordon Bay – The sandy freshwater beach in this popular family park is a hot spot in the summer. Camping, fishing, boating, hiking, historic sites, and family programs add to the fun at this park on Cowichan Lake. Located west of Duncan, just beyond the community of Lake Cowichan.

Cowichan River Park – A 750-hectare park that straddles one of the best fishing rivers in the province, Cowichan River Park features approximately 20 kilometres of hiking trails, swimming, and camping. Located west of Duncan.

Central Island

Newcastle Island Marine Park – Accessible by boat or passenger ferry from Nanaimo, this 306-hectare island park has a rich natural and cultural history, a number of walking trails, walk-in campsites, beaches, historic sites, and picnic areas. Take the passenger ferry or your own boat from Nanaimo’s harbour.

Rathtrevor Beach – A spectacular beach with cool forest trails, family programs in the summer, and a beautiful campground make this another excellent spot for all ages. Parksville.

Englishman River Falls – Twenty minutes from the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area, this park offers camping, hiking/walking/biking trails, freshwater fishing, a summer swimming hole and spectacular photo opportunities.

Little Qualicum Falls – Just west of Parksville, this lovely park offers shaded riverside walking trails, playground, camping, and picnic facilities. Some of the trails are wheelchair accessible.

Horne Lake Caves and Spider Lake – A family oriented park that features educational guided and self-guided tours into the park’s fascinating caves. There’s also a beautiful freshwater lake perfect for swimming and canoeing and a rock climbing amphitheatre. Great for rainy days too.

Sproat Lake – Freshwater recreation, including swimming, fishing, and water skiing, is the big draw at this beautiful park 15 minutes from Port Alberni. This lake is the home base for the Martin Mars Water Bombers that use the lake as a runway on their forest-fire fighting missions. Campground and boat launch.

Stamp River Provincial Park – Located near Port Alberni, this park and campground is popular with anglers. Hiking trails, waterfalls, and an impressive run of spawning salmon every fall make this a popular choice.

North Island

Strathcona Provincial Park – This park is accessible from Campbell River (along Highway 28, the road to Gold River) and between Courtenay and Campbell River (via the Strathcona Parkway and Forbidden Plateau). Hiking trails of various length and for hikers of all ability levels are located throughout. Alpine meadows, panoramic mountain and ocean views, massive forests of lush evergreens, and plenty of wildlife watching opportunities abound in this huge park. Camping permitted in designated areas.

Miracle Beach Provincial Park –A good campground, a safe sandy beach, interpretive centre, showers and changerooms and playgrounds make this park very popular among vacationing families. Located mid-way between Campbell River and Courtenay.

Elk Falls Provincial Park – Just two kilometres from downtown Campbell River, this riverside park offers excellent camping, picnicking, hiking, walking, freshwater fishing, and swimming holes.

Rebecca Spit Marine Park – Located on Quadra Island, a short BC Ferries trip from Campbell River, this lovely park is a narrow strip of land popular with beachcombers, kayakers, picnickers, and walkers.

Shoen Lake Provincial Park – In the beautiful Nimpkish Valley, this gorgeous park with campsites is surrounded by forest. The lake offers great fishing, canoeing, swimming, and hiking.

Marble River Provincial Park – Located near Port Alice, this park and campground is located near the mouth of Alice Lake and surrounded by forest. The hiking and fishing are great in this 1,512-hectare park.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve — This world-renowned park features Long Beach, as well as the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. Walk-in and drive-in campsites are available at Green Point Campground at Long Beach. Camping for kayakers is available on some of the Broken Group Islands; maps are available and tours are recommended.

Cape Scott Park – A coastal wilderness park on the rugged tip of Vancouver Island. Choose between the San Josef Bay Trail, a short 2.5 km hike in the southeast corner of the park, or a challenging 27-km trek to the Cape Scott Lighthouse. The trailhead parking lot is a 68-km drive along a gravel road from Port Hardy.