by Jennie Sutton
Kayak “glamping” is not for everyone, but I can assure you that it can become addictive! Having had a second hip replacement in early March, this body was not about to start climbing in and out of a tent as usual this summer. The solution became apparent while my friends headed off on a 12 day kayak camping trip to North Brooks. My first “glamping” trip was to Mayne Island with my sister and two girlfriends. The second trip was solo, staying on the south end of Saltspring Island. The third trip was to Flynn’s Cove Cabins in Nuchatlitz on our NW coast of Vancouver Island with my sister and two girlfriends. That trip was linked in with the Cowichan Bay Kayak Club crowd as there was a spare 2 bedroom cabin available.
I found the accommodation on Beth Haysom’s website she developed for SISKA members on kayak friendly accommodation in the Southern Gulf islands. Kayak Friendly This link is also listed on the club website.
The Blue Vista Resort is situated on Bennett Bay and has a number of self-contained basic cabins placed in a semi-circle, making it easy for socially distancing. There were ocean glimpses across the street but no beach launch. We had a 2 bedroom cabin and the first night we enjoyed very good food sitting out on the deck at the Bennett Bay Bistro (a short walk).After that we cooked for ourselves, using the stove and the outdoor BBQ.
The only nearby easy launching beach on Bennett Bay is a short 5 minute drive away. The dead-end access road is very close to the sandy beach and one can park roadside safely.
Gallagher Road on the West side of the island has an easy access gravel beach and parking at the dead end.
There is also a beach next to the ferry terminal. One would need to park up the hill away from the ferry traffic.
We also noticed a boat launch to the left of Bennett Bay but did not explore that access or parking.
1.We launched at Bennett Bay and over 14n. miles circumnavigated Mayne Island via Active Pass, timing our passage with the current predictions! The Georgia Strait side of the Gulf Islands are mainly solid, sloping rock, so possible to land in an emergency.The north and east sides of Mayne Island only has a few beaches.
Launching at the bottom of Gallagher Road, we paddled counter-clockwise, had a fun scoot through Boat Pass (again timing it with currents!) and explored the Belle Chain Islets. Anniversary Islet, the largest of the group, used to be a camping spot but there is only below high tide access now. We managed to land along the rocky shoreline to sit and have our lunch, watching the Oyster Catchers and seals with pups nearby. There were very pretty sandstone formations on the east side of the islets…We timed our return with the currents again…a 13n. mile paddle.
Another possible shorter version of #2 paddle would be to launch at the boat launch at the bottom of Steward Road off of Horton Bay Road (#4 above).
Japanese Garden is well worth a visit. It is quite large and is in a lovely setting. It is next to Dinner park which has public toilets, picnic tables and disc golf…
Bakery and coffee shop! No need to say more…delicious foods!
Other shops- most shops were open, limiting numbers and encouraging mask wearing while indoors. Think of dropping some cash to support local businesses…
a. Georgina Point Heritage Park and Lighthouse is worth visiting. You are at the Georgia Strait entrance to Active Pass, so lots of boat activity to watch!
b. St. John Point is a nice walk out to the point with vistas.
c. Mt. Parke Park is a short, hilly hike with vistas.