Coastal Journeys

Penelakut: Tent Island

A Gulf Islands Marine Trails Series Article...A little gem of an island is located off Chemainus and welcomes kayakers. Paul Grey tells you what you need to know to visit Tent Island.

Last year, I visited Penelakut Island (formerly Kuper Island) and talked to the band administrator in order to discuss the operations of Tent Island, which has been a popular camping spot for boaters in past years. I spoke with Ruth to gather information about costs and to understand the Penelakut's approach to their island.


There are approximately eight designated sites on Tent Island. In the future a larger area may be cleared for groups.

The amenities on Tent Island are:

  • 5 pit toilets
  • Firepits
  • Picnic tables
  • Beaches
  • 8 Designated Sites (indicated by lines on the graphic to the left)
  • No fresh water

The diagram to the left show the designated campsites lined along the bay.

Camping Overnight

Generally, a whaler comes once a day to collect fees from campers. It’s a first-come, first-served campsite. To date there hasn’t been any issues finding a campsite upon arrival. The campsites are $30 per night, plus an additional of $5 per person. Roughly two tents can be pitched on one campsite.

Fees should be mailed to the Penelakut Tribe at:

PO Box 360, Chemainus, BC, VOR 1KO

Please provide your name and e-mail address with your fee. To date there has been no drop box for fees, however, you can pay the Penelakut Rangers when they arrive.

Children: There is no individual charge for children under 12 unless they are part of a large, organized group.

Weekly Fee: The weekly site fee is $130. The additional weeklyy per person charge is $20 each up to five people in the group. (i.e, 5 x $20).  For 6 to 9 people the fee is a flat $110. For more than 9 people you must check first with the Tribe Administration Office about availability.

Day Use

The Penelakut First Nation has aboriginal rights and title to Tent Island. This includes both the island and its foreshore. The bay indicated above, in particular, was the location of a village and considerable use of the foreshore took place historically. The day use fee is $5 per person. Day users must leave the island by 4 pm or they may be subject to overnight camping fees.

Tent Island Regulations

Campers are expected to be respectful of one another and of the land and ocean, while on the Island. Trees must not to be cut. You may collect dead wood off the beach toy have a small campfire in a designated firepit unless a local or provincial fire ban is in effect. You nust not leave garbage or other items on the Island. Plan to take out everthing you bring in.

Visitors should stay on trails or roads and not disturb residential property, old homesteads or equipment. Visitors need to respect the Penelakut and the cultural integrity of their community. Do not attempt to remove artifacts, ruins, historic remains or fossils. Tread lightly.

Further Notes

I discussed the fees with Ruth. She recognizes the fees are high, but the costs are also high for the Penelakut Band, who have limited income sources and signficant poverty. l Basically, Tent Island is a break-even or losing proposition relative to the income generated. The higher fees are necessary to warrant the cost of sending rangers to the island. Regretably, there has been a some vandalism over the years.  Soem locals still regrd Tent Island as  Corwn land or Provincial Park becuase for several years the Band leased to the Island to BC Parks for use as a Provincial Park, but that lease ended many years ago.  Enjoy - it is truly beautiful.

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