Ladysmith defines a quaint small town. Set overlooking Ladysmith Harbour, it presents the perfect opportunity for visitors to enjoy the mix of coast and culture, with the town itself steeped in coal mining history evident on every corner.
Paddlers can head out for explorations of the harbour and visit interesting nearby locations such as the Dunsmuir Islands, or use Ladysmith's convenient locations and launch amenities for longer trips through the Salish Sea. Those passing by on their Salish Sea Marine Trail journey can stock up on supplies while enjoying the hospitality of the Ladysmith Maritime Marina. The marina's plans include a floating camping dock for visiting paddlers, so you can stay and use the services such as laundry, showers, water, washrooms and the cafe. This is a remarkable service and so highly recommended, as it represents the first floating campsite on the BC Marine Trails system. Thanks to Ladysmith Maritime Marina for adding that!
A wind warning -- but a good one!
Another advantage of Ladysmith is the wind. In other locations, when it is a disadvantage and an impediment to trips, Ladysmith can be spared. Here's how.
As the lower part of a small valley system, Ladysmith is prone to inflow and outflow diurnal winds rather than the prevailing winds, which in the summer are usually northwesterlies. Instead, on a typical sunny afternoon, Ladysmith Harbour will get inflow winds from the south. And because tje valley isn't as large as many others on the BC coast, such as Howe Sound, the diurnal winds aren't as severe.
Here's why this is good to know. If you were planning a trip in the region and strong northwesterlies are forecast that are making you think twice about going out on the water, Ladysmith can offer a reprieve. Instead of northwesterlies you may get a good strong southerly inflow, or maybe just a gentle one. Who knows? But what you won't get is the strong northwesterlies, which makes Ladysmith an option when other options won't work.
Here's how to put it all together.
Ladysmith offers fewer transportation options than nearby Nanaimo, and so generally is better for cartop launches. However, if you do need to use your car, Ladysmith will be very attractive for its free long-term parking at Transfer Beach, Ladysmith Maritime Marina and Ladysmith Fisherman's Wharf -- the town's three launch options. Don't underestimate the value of trouble-free parking near the waterfront! It's a luxury that simply doesn't exist in many other urban locations, and some municipallities restrict long-term parking near the waterfront altogether. Kudos to the Town of Ladysmith for working with the BC Marine Trails Network to formalize the launch locations. Look for the BC Marine Trails signs when you're here!
Easy day trips:
To Dunsmuir Islands: This is great short trip across the mouth of Ladysmith Harbour to skirt around these pretty islands and maybe stretch your legs on the intertidal clamshell beaches if your timing is right (as they disappear at higher tides). The islands are private, but the foreshore can be used to stretch the legs. This is a great beginners trip, but watch for stronger afternoon inflow winds that can create choppy conditions off Slag Point, especially on an ebb tide where the current opposes the wind.
Extend this trip by heading out of the harbour for a break at nearby Elliot Beach Park.
Moderate day trips:
To Thetis Island: This involves a fairly lengthy (one hour-plus) crossing to Thetis Island from the Ladysmith Harbour shoreline, but Thetis Island has a wonderfully under-developed waterfront along the west shoreline with low, sloping grassy banks that can make for a great intertidal shoreline break.
Advanced day trips:
Thetis Island circumnavigation: Thsi is a demanding day trip, so plan accordingly. A highlight is The Cut between Thetis and Penelakut islands. Many scenic spots and picnic stops possible along the way. Extend it as an overnight trip by staying at Tent Island.
Share you own favorite day trip:
Have we missed a good one? Let us know! Add your own Ladysmith adventure trip in the comments section below.
The Coast Salish Heritage Route: Begin your travels of the Salish Sea in an adventure route that takes you through the history of magic of traditional Coast Salish territories. This route joins Nanaimo with Ladysmith, Chemainus and numerous interesting points along the way. The route is in development by Coast Salish communities to bring it to life through features and services that will enhance the Coast Salish heritage.