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Leg 3 - Crossing the Strait of Georgia from Nanaimo to Sechelt

Distance: 84 km from Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, Nanaimo, to Friendship Park, Sechelt.

Description: This is the wilderness section of the Salish Sea Marine Trail, with much of the most dramatic shoreline and isolated locations. This is where to go on the Salish Sea to get away from it all. The trick is the open-ocean crossing to get here, which can be placid to downright dangerous depending on the weather. This makes it a fairly advanced route, but with attention to the forecast and timing moderate skill levels should have no issues if they can manage the distance of the crossing - about 10 km whether from Vancouver Island or the Sunshine Coast. 

Marine Trail Standard Warnings

The BC Marine Trails sets safety standards for coastal travel. Our maximum distance between campsites is 12 nautical miles. Our optimal distance between campsites is between 8 and 12 nm. Please read our disclaimer for safety and risks.

  • Newcastle Island to the Winchelseas: This distance between the Newcastle Island campsite  and Gerald Island Day Use (emergency stop) is approximately 18 nm. This is greater than our maximum BCMT safety distance of 12 nm. We are currently in discussions with the Snaw-naw-as about the 'potential' stewardship of the Winchelsea Islands so we cannot list campsites or direct people to campsites at this time. Gerald Island Provincial Park is currently a Day Use site but in an emergency this could be used a safety stop. Check guide books for further safety stops in the Winchelseas. There are sites more southerly in the Winchelseas.
  • Gerald Island to Sangster Island is 7.1 nm. Our minimum safety distances for crossings are 4 nm so a paddler could return to Gerald or Sangster Islands in an emergency. Sangster Island is privately owned upland. Please respect this property. There is camping at the high tide. See our main map for details.
  • Sangster Island to Home Bay on Jedediah Island is 5.8 nautical miles and within our optimal distance between a safety stop and a campsite.
  •  Pebbly Beach South Thormanby campsite to Plumper Cove Keats Island Ch’á7elsem campsite is greater than our maximum safety distance of 12 nautical miles (approx. 21 nm). The distance from Pebbly Beach campsite to Friendship Park (one end of leg 3 of the Salish Sea Marine Trail) in Sechelt is approximately 9.2 nm. One alternate is Wilson Creek, a Day Use and Safety Stop on this leg. There are also accommodations along the Sunshine Coast. For example, there is the Driftwood Inn just west of Friendship Park. There are a few B&Bs along this stretch of coast at reasonable cost. Paddlers could consider finding a cottage near the shore by looking at 'Sunshine Coast, BC' on AirBnB.

What to see:

The waters between Lasqueti and Texada islands are dotted with islands, most undeveloped and some included within provincial parks, so this is prime area to explore. In addition, the "jumper" islands are destinations unto themselves. Off the mainland are the Thormanby Islands, which are home to two provincial parks. These make great day-use destinations or even overnight spots to camp.

On the Vancouver Island side, the Winchelsea-Ballenas archipelago off Nanoose is not just a great bridge to Lasqueti Island, it makes a great destination in its own right with beautiful islets to explore and a host of wildlife and features.

Local hazards:

Icon turbulence Exposed water. This is the more exposed section of the Strait of Georgia so care should be taken to avoid strong winds. In a good weather system, winds will rise throughout the day. In other conditions, anything can happen, including possibly the unpredictable Qualicum winds that blow out of the namesake community into the Strait of Georgia.

Primary Campsites Leg 3
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