Mayne Island is a 21-square-kilometre (8.1 sq mi) island in the southern Gulf Islands chain of British Columbia. It is midway between the Lower Mainland of BC and Vancouver Island, and has a small population of around 1,000. We had yet to discover the Gulf Islands, so I figured now would be a good time to start, as we are staying closer to home now that I’m 30 weeks along with our fourth and final adventure buddy. We figured Mayne was a good starting point as it is said to be one of the lesser-visited islands.
It is interesting to imagine how quiet little Mayne Island could have ever been referred to as “Little Hell”. It is the gold rush to blame for that label that has been around for 150 years. Miners gave the name to Miners Bay when Mayne was the commercial and social center of the Gulf Islands.
We loved the vibe of Mayne Island. Residents are definitely on island time there. Life is relaxed, there was no rushing about. Everyone is calm, cool and super friendly. It is also a bikers paradise with the interesting circular routes and quiet roads; there were a ton of bikers around enjoying the peaceful ride.
It was a perfect couple of days for a sister getaway over a weekend. We found there was enough to entertain ourselves from early Friday until Sunday afternoon. We then found ourselves wanting to hop over to another island for some more exploring.
Take a look at a small slice of beauty that British Columbia has to offer:
You can either take the Ferry or a float plane to Mayne Island. The Ferry sails from Tsawassen, south of Vancouver, BC. The Ferry is always a good choice and an enjoyable ride with pretty views all around. I say it time and time again, but on a clear day, the views really are breathtaking. We caught an early 6am Ferry over to the Island and there was basically nobody on it. On the way back we were glad we had a reservation because that Ferry was packed. Reservations are strongly advised. With a reservation you must also be there at least 40 minutes before your sailing.
Since we arrived so early, we decided to just drive around the island and see what we could find. The beach access off of Seaview is the first spot we found and it was a beautiful start to the day. We later stumbled across it again when the clouds had burned off and we had gorgeous blue sky and sunshine. In the early morning, we could see Mount Baker in the distance.
You’ll find the beaches covered in a lot of seaweed when the tide is out. It can make it very slippery, so be careful. All the sea life you find really makes up for the gross seaweed all around. Typical PNW. We loved the endless Starfish we found at the Seaview beach access when the tide was out. Magical!
Mount Parke Park Hiking
Mount Parke, in the south-central heart of the island, is its highest peak at 255 metres (837 feet). One thing we loved about Mayne Island is that there were so many hiking trails to choose from for such as mall island. We did two hikes in Mt. Parke, the first taking us over an easy boardwalk and flat path until we hit a parking lot. This hike would be great with kids. The other was an unmarked trail that we found off to the left when you pass the outhouse– there is no marker to make the trail entrance obvious, but it is clearly a trail. The only trail marker we found was near the viewpoint. This trail lead us to one of our favorite views — the Halliday Viewpoint. It was breathtaking! There are some steep sections of the trail and some sections that have a large drop-off, so stay away from the edge!
We loved how …
We loved how the town felt so strongly about its history. St. Mary Magdalene church still stands from 1897, there is a cute tiny history building and other heritage buildings. You could really feel the old-town vibe and it was wonderful. It was also refreshing to see so many beautiful wood carvings around, as well as so many deer that roam free (though it may be a little frustrating for residents).
St. John Point
St. John Point is a pristine natural area with shoreline bluffs, a small beach, and a trail network through mature forest stands. This was a short trail through a gorgeous field to reach a rocky beach that had breathtaking views. Really easy to access, which is always a bonus!
Georgina Point Heritage Park and Lighthouse
This waterfront park overlooking Active Pass is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. It’s also home to the Georgina Point Lighthouse; built-in 1885 that still signals ships into the busy waterway. It is a great spot for a picnic or to find some sea life at low-tide. Our favorite sights were a Sea Otter and a leather starfish.
The Cob Cottage
We came across this Cob Cottage on Air B&B. It was actually the reason why we decided to start our Gulf Island adventures with Mayne Island. The cottage was even more enchanting than the pictures show below. It was like a fairytale. The attention to detail was incredible. There were so many cute pieces of decor and everything was thoughtfully built. It was also on their farm, so it was extremely peaceful. You could sit outside and watch the sheep, pigs and cows wander around right behind the fence. It was completely quiet at night as you could hear nature all around you. The outdoor shower felt wonderful on a warm day.
While there was no light pollution, there still was not the star show in the sky I was hoping for, but as you can see in the photos below, it was still not too shabby at all. It also stayed nice and cool inside the cottage; much cooler than it felt outside. Perfect to stay in on a summer night.
The flower garden we passed on the way to the Cob Cottage was magical. So many bright and bold flowers. It felt like a fairytale garden.
The hosts, Shanti and Don, were so friendly and wonderful; they even left us some fresh bread, delicious Apricot Jam (that they make right on their farm!), milk and cream.
Take a look below and I’m sure that you will feel the magic:
Miners Bay is located on the south-east side of Active Pass, which separates Galiano and Mayne Islands. It was named for the gold miners who frequented this bay from 1858 on through the gold rush years. Miners Bay was a convenient stopover point for fortune seekers on their way to the Fraser River and Barkerville.
Campbell Bay Point Trail
It was an easy half-mile walk to the tip of Campbell Point, part of the multi-island Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, and breathtakingly beautiful. The views from the point reach as far as Saturna Island and Mount Baker on a clear day. Closer to Mayne Island the views include Campbell Bay and Edith Point on your left and Bennett Bay on your right. Straight ahead the views include Georgeson Island and the Georgia Strait.
Oyster Bay’s small beach has interesting driftwood and rock formations. It’s a small area, but great for swimming too.
Naylor Road offers access to sandstone beaches and tidal pool exploration. I loved the gorgeous view before the stairs down to the beach.
Dinner Bay Park
There is beach access at Dinner Bay Park. The park also features many different activities for kids and families such an old fashioned kids playground, disc golf, and picnic tables. Dinner Bay Park also has access to the stunning Japanese Gardens. The beach access point takes you down to this view.
We found a peaceful spot we were definitely not expecting: the island’s Japanese Garden, dedicated to a past that we had no idea about since we live beyond the island’s shores. The garden was absolutely gorgeous, featuring a reflective pond, bridges, and torii gates. Volunteers built it as a memorial to the Japanese immigrants who farmed the island starting around the early 1900s and it opened in 2002. Japanese Canadians were one-third of the island population by World War II, when, just as in the United States, they were sent to internment camps, where most of them sadly did not return. It was a beautiful tribute a very well manicured and impressive garden. It was impressive how such a small island can manage to create and maintain such beautiful Japanese gardens.
Kayaking – Bennett Bay
One of the highlights of our trip was Kayaking. We went on a tour with a fantastic guide through the Mayne Island Resort with Kayaking Gulf Islands. We launched right off their private dock and explored around the island for three hours. We saw so many eagles, starfish and curious seals. The skies were bright blue after the first half-hour and the scenery was absolutely mind-blowing. It was so hard to not want to pause for a moment to take picture after picture to capture that moment.
Have you visited any of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands? Which ones?