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Victoria And Gulf Islands National Park Reserve


   Victoria, of course, is well known for its wide variety of activities. It’s described as an “urban oasis surrounded by ocean waters and mountainous wilderness” on the Hello BC website (listed Cabbage Islandbelow). The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is one of the biggest water attractions because it has such a long list of places to paddle to or from. The reserve safeguards some of British Columbia’s southern Gulf Islands. See ‘ideas’ below for some of the many paddling activities.

There are, of course, other paddling adventures on the southern end of Vancouver Island. D’Arcy Island, for example, is part of the National Park Reserve. Search for ‘DArcy’ on our map to see nearby launches. It features 7 tent sites.

BC Marine Trails Resources for Victoria, Sidney, Saanich

  • Please visit our Gulf Islands Marine Trail page (see box/link to the right).
  • Our map is the primary source of information for campsites and launch sites on the southern end of Vancouver Island. The Parks Canada Gulf Islands website is a great source of information on the numerous sites (30+). Look up one of the many sites on the Parks Canada site and then reference them back to our map.
  • There are also paddling clubs in Victoria—South Island Sea Kayaking Association and the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club—who have a lot of planned trips (you must join). There are also many guided trips in the area.
  •    Resources: A variety of resources to help you find or plan a paddling trip.
  •    Consider becoming a member. We offer additional tools for our map, sponsor benefits and some additional resources.

Example: Taking a Trip to Portland Island in the Gulf Islands Reserve

  1. Go to our map and type in “Barnacle Road”. A search item will appear under the box. You can launch from here to one of three campsites on Portland Island. If parking is unavailable there are other launches including Van Isle Marina, or Ardwell Avenue (park on the road).
  2. Using our map look at the Barnacle Road popup box. On the bottom of the box are small icons. One is for Shell Beach campsite on Portland Island. The distances are shown “as the crow flies” at 2.3 nautical miles or 4.29 kilometres. Remember this is open water to you should have safety training in kayaking/canoeing or go with a guided company.
  3. Use our Resources Page to determine the weather and tides. Please note the Barnacle Road launch is close to the ferry terminal. On the resources page look under “Weather, tides…” tab. Once again, some skill is needed to interpret the day’s weather.
  4. Plan your route or discuss the route with your guided company.

Ideas (Gulf Islands National Park Reserve)

  • Portland Island in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve - quite accessible from Sidney. There are three campsites: Princess Bay, Shell Beach, and Arbutus Point.
  • Sidney Island in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve - large campsite. Open water crossing.
  • Dock Island Day Trip.
  • Salt Spring Island to James Bay on Prevost Island. Launch from Long Harbour or another access point.
  • Take a trip with Bennett Bay Kayaking on Mayne Island or the Salt Spring Adventure Company on Salt Spring Island.
  • Take a ferry ride with your kayaks to Saturna Island and paddle/camp to Cabbage Island and visit Tumbo Island.
  • If you are an experienced paddler spend a week or more paddling through the Gulf Islands.


  • The Wild Coast 3: A Kayaking, Hiking and Recreation Guide for BC's South Coast by John Kimantis

BCMTNA Sponsors in Victoria, Southern Gulf Islands

We have a number of sponsors who do guided trips or instruction in the Gulf Islands and Victoria area:

BC Tourism Links





The BC Marine Trails New Vision: The entire B.C. coastline linked through marine routes and land sites for safe and sustainable water-based public recreation.

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