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Beautiful Sand Beaches On Sidney Spit

Sidney Spit Kayaking Trip, Gulf Islands

Have you ever considered a kayaking outing to Sidney Spit in British Columbia’s southern Gulf Islands? I don’t know why it took me over 20 years to visit the spit in Gulf Islands National Park Preserve. It’s not as though I didn’t know it existed. But somehow with all our trips to Vancouver Island over the years, John and I have never taken the time to explore this strip of land.

The spit is easily accessible via sea kayak or seasonal ferry from the town of Sidney, only a 10 minute drive away from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, the one that connects Vancouver Island to Vancouver. It’s also a perfect day’s outing from Victoria or from the nearby Butchart Gardens.

Read: 8 of the Best Things to do in Sidney, British Columbia 

Begin kayaking at the Sidney wharf
Begin kayaking at the Sidney wharf
Seagulls will keep an eye on your movements
Seagulls will keep an eye on your movements

Rent kayaks in Sidney 

Unseasonably sunny, warm weather – unheard of for a Thanksgiving weekend in this part of the world – enticed us to rent sea kayaks in Sidney and head over for a half day. It only takes 1.5 to 2 hours to kayak from Sidney to over to the spit.

I’d label it an easy adventure kayak trip if the wind isn’t blowing too hard and the boat traffic is minimal. Do keep an eye out for the Sidney-Anacortes Ferry. This ferry moves quickly and you will want to give it a wide berth.

Approaching the Spit with Mt. Baker off in the distance
Approaching Sidney Spit with Mt. Baker off in the distance

Sidney Spit – look for marine life on the way over 

On our way over to the spit we saw small porpoises but they didn’t stick around for a picture. Sometimes you’ll see seals – and always lots of bird life.

There were also plenty of pleasure craft out enjoying the day but all were conscientious about slowing down around us to minimize their wake.

A first time kayaker
We put Gustave, a first time kayaker (at age 76) in the front of a double kayak

Exploring the spit

Once you land, pull your kayaks up well above the high tide line. Then head out and explore. You can walk for ages on the beach, hike the inland trails, grab a pair of binoculars and go bird watching or find a log, lay back and just relax. We did a bit of all those things.

On one side of the spit you can see the buildings of downtown Sidney but cross to the other side and you feel light years away from civilization. You’ll get a small taste of the quintessential west coast experience – and perhaps understand the reason why I love to kayak in this part of the world.

Brightly coloured algae at low tide
Brightly coloured algae at low tide
The Sidney - Anacortes ferry - with Mount Baker in the distance
The Sidney – Anacortes ferry – with Mount Baker in the distance
Beautiful sand beaches on Sidney Spit
Beautiful sand beachesExploring Sidney Spit on footExploring the spit on foot

Loading my kayak for the return paddleLoading my kayak for the return paddle

Camping at the north end of Sidney Island

There is camping available at the north end of Sidney Island. You can take a boat over if you don’t want to kayak. What you’ll find are beautiful sandy beaches, some trails through the woods and plenty of seabirds to keep you entertained. 

Campers must register at a designated campsite before the last ferry leaves the island for the day. You can also make online reservations on the Parks Canada website here.

The 29 primitive campsites with pit toilets are open from May 15 to September 30th. Bring all the water you’ll need with you. Fires are not permitted on the spit – even below the high tide line. Reportedly there is a wheelbarrow to help move your gear.

You can camp in Gulf Islands National Park Preserve
You can camp in Gulf Islands National Park Preserve

If you kayak over for the day

Check the weather forecast beforehand. It’s not a great idea to paddle when small craft advisories are in place.

Bring water and a lunch. There are no facilities on the spit.

Bring wind proof clothes – just in case.

You can rent kayaks from Sidney Whale Watching right on the Sidney wharf.

If you like this kayaking outing then consider a multi-day trip out to some of the other Gulf Islands – including Rum, Portland, Moresby, James, D’Arcy and Mandarte Islands to name a few.

Look out for crabs
Look out for crabs

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Where to stay in Sidney BC

If you’re looking to book a stay in Sidney I’d recommend these spots.

I love the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa. Great location, excellent food at the onsite restaurant. And you can’t beat the location.

Corbett Guest Suites – offers free kayak rentals – and bikes at a very convenient location.

Travelodge by Wyndham Victoria Airport – is a bestseller.

Further reading on kayaking in British Columbia

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Kayaking to Sidney Spit in Gulf Islands National Park Preserve

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. You definitely picked the right weekend to head out on the ocean. Such beautiful weather sure made for some gorgeous sky color in your pictures.
    I’ve seen the Sidney Spit from the ferry before, but it never would have struck me as a place to try and get to. I’m kind of surprised to find that it’s actually a national park.
    Oh, and thanks for mentioning that you did the trip with a 76 year old first time kayaker. I don’t feel lazy now at all.

    1. @Steve I’ve never seen Thanksgiving weather like that before! You could take the 25 minute summertime ferry if you wanted to visit Sidney Spit and I bet you and your kids would love it.

  2. This looks like such a great trip, my first time kayaking was in New Zealand under similar conditions. It was fantastic… I hope to make this one some day 🙂

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