Coastal Journeys

The Penders

Gulf Islands Marine Trail Series Article...The Pender Islands are a great place to get into the Gulf Islands Marine Trail destination area. There are several places to explore on the two islands or you can launch from “the Penders” to a campsite like James Bay on Prevost Island.

 You can view the area on CHS chart 3462 (Juan de Fuca to Strait of Georgia) and reference marine weather and sea conditions from Strait of Georgia south of Nanaimo or East Point on Saturna Island. The prevailing winds are southeasterlies.


There are many headlands and areas with currents, tidal rips and standing waves so it is necessary that you have skills to read tide and current tables if you are not accompanied by a guide. There are also a number of kayak guidebooks to assist you in this area.

Getting there

There are scheduled crossings to the Pender Islands from Swartz Bay near Victoria, Tsawwassen, and Salt Spring, Mayne and Galiano Islands. Check the BC Ferries website for schedules.

You can launch from numerous locations accessed from the BC Marine Trails map including Port Washington, Port Browning, and Thieves Bay on North Pender.  

Our Day Paddle

On my trip with Gary we took a roundabout route to the Penders from Crofton traveling around Salt Spring Island, and taking a second ferry to Pender CanalPender Canal by D. ThompsonNorth Pender Island. We launched and headed along the shores of Port Browning to Aldridge Point, and turned into a narrow channel before entering Pender Canal. We were expecting some current but passed under the bridge without trouble.  An archaeological dig by Simon Fraser University discovered a burial box here several thousand years old.

We were headed to Beaumont Marine Park, a part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, for the day. Facing slightly cold winds the idea of a Mediterranean climate quickly disappeared from our thoughts. We scouted the campsite. There are picnic tables, composting toilets and reservable campsites available here between May and September. Fairly strong winds had whipped up by the time we had re-entered our kayaks. As we launched waves rolled into our cockpits before we managed to secure our sprayskirts. At this point we decided to head back instead of exploring further south. We headed back to our campsite on North Pender Island, cutting our day a bit short on the water.

Pender Island was named after the master of the vessel Plumper in 1857. Early industry consisted of a herring saltery, a brick factory, a fertilizer plant and logging. The Penders are the second most populous Gulf Island after Salt Spring.

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