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BC Marine Trails: Preserving BC coastal access for small craft users.

Discovery Island Provincial Park

Discovery Island Provincial Park

BC Parks campsite and official Salish Sea Marine Trail campsite.

Marine Trail users description

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Discovery Island Provincial Park is a primary marine trail campsite for both the Gulf Islands and Salish Sea marine trails by agreement with BC Parks.

Park notices

Please note that Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park has a history of camping closures and a limit to day-use only. Be sure to check the BC Parks website for the latest information before planning a camping trip.

Site Data

Please find site data about Discovery Island Provincial Park on our main map.

Official information

BC Parks logo

From BC Parks. Updated Nov. 5, 2017:

Excellent kayaking opportunities make Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park a popular destination for visitors and local residents. The area is accessible from Victoria, where paddlers can launch from Cattle Point, just north of the Oak Bay Marina.

Kayakers paddling between Oak Bay and Discovery Island will be delighted by the wildlife along this route, which features a sensitive seabird nesting area and ecological reserve. Sightings of seals, sea lions, otters and Bald eagles are common around the park. Paddlers should be aware that these waters can be treacherous, as strong currents and frequent winds create dangerous conditions, including rip tides. Crossings are best made at slack tide in calm weather.

Discovery Island is a popular kayaking and camping destination for school groups and kayak instruction groups, who have experienced guides on hand. The park features a large, open field, southwest of Pandora Hill, where campers can set up a tent. The only facilities provided are a pit toilet, information shelter and picnic tables. Campfires are not permitted on Discovery Island.

A hiking trail system runs from the lighthouse on Sea Bird Point to the western shore of the park, where hikers can hike up Pandora Hill for sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains and surrounding area. In the spring, a colourful array of wildflowers blooms in the woodlands and meadows.

Boaters should be aware that there is no safe anchorage and no moorage in the park - the closest safe harbour is in Oak Bay. Mariners should exercise extreme caution, as the main access to the park is via the rock and reef-strewn Rudlin Bay, which is exposed to the elements from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait.

The northern portion of Discovery Island, adjacent Chatham Island and some of the smaller islands nearby are First Nations Reserve lands. Please respect these areas. Several of the nearby islands constitute parts of the Oak Bay Island’s Ecological Reserve. These habitats are extremely sensitive to human disturbance and vulnerable to the introduction of non-native animal or plant species. Please do not enter into these areas.

Park Size: 61 hectares

Special Notes:

  • Pets (dogs, cats, etc...) are not permitted in the park.
  • Use of food caches for all foodstuffs and fragrant items while camping is mandatory.
  • There is no vehicle access to this park. Access is by water only.
  • A mooring buoy in the park is for BC Parks staff use only.
  • There is no safe anchorage in the park area. Mariners should exercise extreme caution, as the main access to the park is via the rock and reef-strewn Rudlin Bay, which is exposed to the elements from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait.
  • Sensitive meadows areas. Stay on designated trails and camp only in the designated camping area.

History

The following is from BC Geographical Names:

Discovery Island:

"Named after Captain Vancouver's ship the Discovery, probably by Captain Kellett, HMS Herald, who surveyed a portion of these waters when on the station in 1846. Commander Mayne in his book, page 80, states that Vancouver named the island himself, after his ship, but this cannot be correct as Vancouver did not examine the southeast coastline of what is now Vancouver Island, confining himself exclusively to the continental shore.... The Discovery, in which Vancouver made his ever memorable voyage, was purchased by the British Government from Messrs. Randall and Brent, having been built in their yard on the banks of the Thames in 1789. She was first commissioned on New Year's day, 1790, by Captain Henry Roberts, with Vancouver as second in command, for the voyage she ultimately undertook, but which in the first place was abandoned owing to the Nootka difficulty. Upon amicable arrangement between the British and Spanish governments, the examination of this coast was again taken in hand... The Discovery was recommissioned for this purpose 15 December 1790, with the armed tender Chatham as her consort, the command of the expedition being given to Vancouver, then promoted to commander in the navy; lieutenant Broughton being appointed to the command of the Chatham. The Discovery, ship rigged, was 340 tons burthen, copper fastened, sheathed with plank and coppered. Mounted ten four-pounders and ten swivels, with one hundred and thirty-four of a crew all told (muster book, Discovery.) With the Discovery and Chatham, Vancouver, during the years 1792, 1793 and 1794, closely examined and charted this coast from 30°N to 60°N."

Source: Walbran, John T; British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906: their origin and history; Ottawa, 1909 (republished for the Vancouver Public Library by J.J. Douglas Ltd, Vancouver, 1971)

Sea Bird Point:

Named after the American paddle steamer "Sea Bird", 450 tons register, Captain Connor. This vessel arrived at Port Townsend from San Francisco 18 March 1858, and was the first steamer to go up the Fraser river as far as Murderer's bar; she unfortunately grounded on a bar on one of her trips and was not floated for four months. On getting off and proceeding on another trip to the Fraser she caught fire 7 September 1858 soon after leaving Victoria, and to save life, was run aground in the vicinity of this point named after her, where the vessel was totally consumed. A lighthouse was erected on this point in 1885 and placed in operation 10 April; supplemented by a steam fog signal, 1 July 1890.

Source: Walbran, John T; British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906: their origin and history; Ottawa, 1909 (republished for the Vancouver Public Library by J.J. Douglas Ltd, Vancouver, 1971)

Commodore Point:

Named in 1858 by Captain Richards, RN, in association with Sea Bird Point. After the American merchant vessel Commodore, paddle steamer, built at New York in 1852 and then named the Brother Jonathan. T.W. Wright bought her and changed the name to Commodore. In 1858 she was employed on this coast inconjuction with the Sea Bird and other vessels during the busy days of the Fraser River gold excitement.

Source: Walbran, John T; British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906: their origin and history; Ottawa, 1909 (republished for the Vancouver Public Library by J.J. Douglas Ltd, Vancouver, 1971)

Pandora Hill:

Named in 1847 by Lieutenant Commander Wood, after HM surveying vessel Pandora, which was utilized during hydrographic surveys on this coast 1846-48...

Source: Walbran, John T; British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-1906: their origin and history; Ottawa, 1909 (republished for the Vancouver Public Library by J.J. Douglas Ltd, Vancouver, 1971)

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