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

Salish Sea Marine Trail grand opening

Join the BC Marine Trails Network in a weekend celebration of paddling and camaraderie Sept. 15-17 amid the splendor of the Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea Marine Trail connects Victoria to Vancouver as part of the Trans Canada Trail, and the grand opening celebration on Newcastle Island puts you on the doorstep of some of the great wilderness locations of this multi-faceted paddling route. 

The grand opening weekend event includes two initiatives - the marine trail grand opening and a new annual race, the Crazy Eight, which loops around Newcastle and Protection islands.

Join us for this piece of history in the making and meet our friends at the Snuneymuxw First Nation who will be our gracious hosts at this event and into the future as a key waypoint on the Salish Sea Marine Trail.

Need help booking or signing up for events? Click here for instructions. Please note the Weekend Pass does not include camping for Friday and Saturday nights. View the schedule in a spreadhseet.

What's new:

We've just added new workshops for an early morning yoga session at 8 a.m. Saturday and a second beginners standard kayak roll session on Sunday at 9 a.m. We've also added a Kayaking with Kids workshop on Sunday at 10 a.m.

We're finalizing the racing categories this week and if you're interested in just the race and not the workshops or other weekend events, we will be adding a "race only" signup fee of $10 (to help cover the $1,000 insurance cost for this event).

We've also added three speakers on the Friday night - three more great reasons to arrive early! These speakers will share a diverse range of paddling experiences.

Walking on BC Ferries?

If you're coming from the Mainland, and wish to leave the car at home, you can walk your kayak onto BC Ferries at Horseshoe Bay, walk off at Departure Bay and walk your kayak to the Brechin boat ramp for the short paddle to Newcastle Island. If you do, let us know - we'll enter you in a draw for a free adult passenger fare so your trip home will be free. Thanks to BC Ferries for donating the passes to help keep unnecessary cars at home.


Saturday, Sept. 16

7-9 a.m.

Breakfast and Orientation
Workshops or Historical Harbour Paddle Tour

Included in Weekend pass ($25)

8 a.m.

Orientation and welcome

9-12 p.m.

Nanimo Harbour history paddling tour. Team games.

Workshops (Various. See the schedule)

12-1:30 p.m.

Lunch/Free time. Make your way to Swy-a-lana by paddle.

Bring your own or visit a local eatery.

1:30-2 p.m.

Group Flotilla from Swy-a-lana Lagoon to Newcastle Island.

Free: Please register here.

2-3 p.m.

Welcome ceremony.

3-4 p.m

Social event. - sponsored by Alberni Outpost

4-6 p.m.



Plans are underway for a great dinner experience.
Stay tuned!

6-8 p.m.

Keynote speakers

Free but register to guarantee a seat.

9 p.m. - 7a.m.

Quiet time



Sunday, September 17


7-9 a.m.


Included in Weekend pass

Register for your choice of two races or workshops.

9-12 p.m.

Crazy Eight race: A long distance figure-eight around Newcastle & Protection islands starting and finishing in the channel between the islands. 

The Harbour Race: This runs along Newcastle Passage around the Cardinal buoy in Departure Bay, with one lap starting and finishing in Mark Bay.

9-11 a.m.

Kayak games

9-12 p.m.

Workshops (Varous sessions. See the schedule)

12-1  p.m.   

Closing Ceremonies, winner presentations and prize draws

Planning your weekend:

Camping:  Cost for group camping in the provincial park at Newcastle Island is $10 per person per night for Friday and Saturday. Book early as spaces are limited. Register for one or both nights to take part in the Salish Sea Marine Trail grand opening events.

Amenities include showers, flush toilets and a food kiosk (limited hours). It's a stunning location, close to trails, beaches and scenic shoreline, only moments away from all the services of a major city. 

Alternate accommodations: Private campsites on Newcastle Island can be booked through the BC Parks' Discover Camping online registration system. Or you can book at any of the waterfront or near-water hotels and accommodation options in Nanaimo.

Weekend passes: The $25 weekend pass includes breakfasts on Saturday/Sunday, entry into the workshops (registration required), kayak polo tournament, and Newcastle Island GPS treasure hunt, Crazy Eight race, and access to keynote speaker sessions. It also includes event insurance coverage.

Additional cost events: The Saturday evening Coast Salish dinner and the Newcastle Island cultural tour will require the purchase of an additional ticket. Watch for registration of these once details are finalized. 

Free events:  If you can't attend the entire weekend, please join us on Saturday afternoon for the group flotilla and the grand opening ceremonies. The meeting place will be in the waters just off Swy-a-lana Lagoon. Please register for the flotilla to help us plan for the event.

Waivers: If you are participating in any on-water event, a signed waiver is required. Avoid lineups at the registration table by  signing the waiver online in advance.

How to get here: The BCMTNA recommends launching your paddlecraft from the Brechin Boat Ramp at the bottom of Zorkin Road adjacent to the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. You can walk or roll your craft onto the ferry at Horseshoe Bay Terminal and walk off at Departure Bay.

From the boat ramp, it is a 15 minute paddle down picturesque Newcastle Island Channel to Mark Bay and the camping area on the south end of Newcastle Island. For specifics about the Brechin Boat Ramp and other nearby launch options, visit the BCMTNA map.

Need help? Let us walk you through the weekend

This event is set up to function much like an online store, with a cart that tracks the items you choose. If you're not familiar with carts or how they function, please consider the following.

  • If you have signed up for an event but can't find your cart, look for the "Your Salish Sea Cart" cart box in the right sidebar near the top right of any events page. As you add more events, your cart will update. You can remove items from your cart at any time. If you don't see "Your Salish Sea Cart," it's likely you have no items in your cart.
  • If you clicked "Add more events" after registering for an event, but don't see more events, look for the "Salish Sea Marine Trail Celebration Events" box at the top right sidebar of any events page, and choose the appropriate category (camping, the weekend pass and workshops, or the race). 

Here's how to organize your weekend:

  • Are you camping? You have a choice of just one night or the Friday and Saturday. You will have to register for each night separately. 
  • Are you participating in workshops, the race and/or other weekend events? You'll have to sign up for a weekend pass. It is $25 and in large part covers insurance. Please note a pass does not include the camping, as some participants may prefer a local hotel to camping.
  • Workshops are held the Saturday and Sunday mornings and several run co-currently, so be sure you pick only one workshop for each hour. View the schedule.

Questions? We can answer them! If you can't find something, are having trouble registering, or are simply scratching your head about something, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 250-244-6437. We can sort it out! We also welcome suggestions. Please be kind, however, as we are restricted by the parameters of the events software used to create this registration system, so there are many elements over which we have no control. Thanks for your patience!


Register for one or both nights at Newcastle Island to take part in the Salish Sea Marine Trail grand opening events. Camping is in the group camping areas of the provincial park, and include showers, flush toilets and other amenities including a food kiosk (limited hours). Enjoy the trails, beaches and scenic shoreline in your spare time. It's a stunning location only moments away from all the services of a major city. Kids are free!

Other accommodation options include the private campsites on Newcastle Island, which can be booked through the BC Parks' Discover Camping online registration system. Or you can book at any one of a selection of waterfront or near-water hotels and accommodation options in Nanaimo. Watch this space for a list of specials created for Salish Sea Marine Trail grand opening participants.

Sign up for a weekend pass to enter all workshops, the race and other weekend events. 

Need help signing up? Click here.

Join us in celebrating the Salish Sea Marine Trail Grand Opening Paddle Race.The Race is open to all paddlers of all disciplines and you can race, either single or double.There will be two races reflecting different distances..

Harbour Paddle Short Course (6.5 km)

Start/Finish just west of the Newcastle Ferry Dock in the gap between Protection and Newcastle Island. The race course leads into the protected waters of Newcastle Channel, to Departure Bay, around the yellow buoy in Departure Bay and return. There will be a staggered start of 10 minutes for HPK, Surfski’s and OC 1-2’s.Race starts at 9:00 AM with a mandatory pre race paddlers meeting at the gazebo on Newcastle Island at 8:30 AM.

Crazy Eight Long Course (13 km)

Start/Finish just west of the Newcastle Island Ferry Dock in the gap between Protection Island and Newcastle Island. Depending on wind direction on race day, the course is a figure 8 around Newcastle/Protection Island. There will be a staggered start of 20 minutes for HPK, Surski’s and OC 1-2’s. Race starts at 10:00 AM with a mandatory pre-race paddlers meeting at 9:30 AM. Paddlers can register on-line or in person on race day.
All paddlers are required to register at the registration desk on Newcastle Island in order to sign their waivers and receive their race numbers.

Race Classes

Men’s, Women’s and Mixed (Single and Double) in the following categories:

  • Sea Kayaks
  • Surfskis
  • OC 1-2s
  • First Nations Traditional Canoes
  • SUP’s
  • Rowing Craft

Race classes for men, women and mixed are dependant on registration. 3 boats tomake a class in each category.


Prizes will be by draw for participation, not for speed. 

Need help registering? Click here.

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First Nations have freely travelled the coast of BC in canoes for thousands of years.  It has been 50 years since the first recreational kayakers ventured out to explore and enjoy this same wild and majestic coastline, relatively free to stop and camp anywhere along the way.

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Please read. A number of kayakers are leaving campfires unattended or still burning when they leave a camping site. As well kayakers should not burn their toilet paper. Please read the following document issued July 21, 2017.

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