News, views, opinions and reviews from Van Isle Marina, one of the largest full service marinas in British Columbia.

trail with sun shining through

5 of the Best Hikes Around Victoria, BC

If you’re planning a boat excursion to Vancouver Island in search of excellent hiking, beaches, and outdoor adventure, you’ve come to the right place. There is excellent hiking in every direction on southern Vancouver Island, it just depends on what you’re looking for and which part of the island you’d like to explore.

lighthouse with mountain in background

6 Boat Trip Destinations Just South of the Border

For boaters living on the west coast of British Columbia, we’re blessed with stunning natural landscapes and an abundance of exciting destinations. Between the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, and the surrounding ports, there’s plenty to see.

But if you’re looking to expand your horizons, why not head south? Our southern neighbour of Washington state has a lot in common with BC and will supply you with no shortage of adventure. The Washington State coastline is dotted with ports, along with islands, bays, and oceanside parks.

In this article, we’re going to share 6 boat trip destination ideas for boaters ready to head down south. If you’re looking for a new boat that can handle multi-day trips while providing a high level of reliability and comfort, be sure to check out Van Isle Marina’s current boat listings.

1. San Juan Island

San Juan Island is the most populous of the San Juan Islands group and makes for a terrific weekend getaway. The name comes from the expeditions in the 1700’s, and today there are a couple thousand people living on the island.

Friday Harbor, located on the east side of the island, is the single incorporated city on the island and has a bustling tourism economy. Here, there are plenty of places to park your boat. There’s also The San Juan Islands Museum of Art, The Whale Museum, San Juan Island Brewing, South Beach, and several coffee shops and restaurants.

Outside Friday Harbor, the island is filled with parkland. There are several nature preserves, beaches (notably Fourth of July Beach), state parks, and hiking trails. If you head north, you’ll find Roche Harbor, which is an excellent place to park your boat, stay at the resort, and explore the surrounding nature.

2. Port Townsend

Located on the Quimper Peninsula in Jefferson County, Port Townsend is a city of about 10,000. As a US National Historic District, Port Townsend is a great place to explore the leftover Victoria-era shops, homes, and architecture while shopping around and enjoying the city.

The Carnegie Library – which is over 100 years old – is a must see, plus the Port Townsend Aero Museum, the Northwest Maritime Center, and Fort Worden State Park. After you’ve seen the sights, be sure to check out the city’s selection of restaurants, brewpubs, and coffee shops.

Port Townsend is the place to be for annual festivals and cultural events, like the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival, the Rhododendron Festival, and the Jazz & Blues Festival. Boating is a big part of the culture and the art in Port Townsend, which means there’s always a regatta, race, or boating event going on.

3. Camano Island

Nestled between Whidbey Island and mainland Washington State, Camano Island is one of the largest and quieter islands in the state. The sits in what’s known as Possession Sound (a part of Puget Sound), with Skagit Bay located to the north.

Camano is a popular summer destination for nearby residents who want to slow down and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. And while Camano Island isn’t the same tourist hub as others in this article, there’s still lots to see and do over the course of a weekend. On the west side of the island, you’ll find the only two state parks, Camano Island State Park and Cama Beach State Park, which have cabins, hiking trails, and campgrounds. You also can’t miss the Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, a zipline park, and Edward Lynne Cellars winery.

4. Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island is a large island in Puget Sound just north of Seattle. On this rugged island you’ll find everything from beaches to farmland to quaint shopping centres. Whidbey Island is also well known as an artists’ hub, with no shortage of potters, painters, writers, and sculptors making a living here.

On the northern end of the island, you’ll find Deception Pass State Park with its stunning clifftop views and trail network. On the south end there’s Fort Casey Historical State Park complete with a lighthouse and gun battery. The middle of the island is home to Price Sculpture Forest, Fort Ebey State Park, and Crockett Lake.

If you’re looking for things to do in town, Whidbey Island has a few coastal towns that are fully stocked with cute shops, restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops.

5. Anacortes

Anacortes is a coastal city in Washington State that is found just north of Whidbey Island and just east of the San Juan Island network. There are roughly 17,000 residents in Anacortes, which got its name from Anne Curtis Bowman, the wife of an early settler.

Anacortes is a popular destination for boaters and boat enthusiasts. The town has a booming pleasure craft construction industry, plus, Anacortes is a popular departure to visit the San Juan Islands, as tourists flock from all over with hopes of spotting an orca whale.

Besides orca watching, there’s plenty to do in Anacortes. The Anacortes Forest Commons has roughly 80 km of hiking and biking trails, and there are popular cliff climbing routes near Mount Erie Park.

6. Sequim Bay/Sequim

Sequim Bay is located on the Olympic Peninsula and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is accessible from Victoria. The over 3km long bay is peaceful and beautiful, surrounded by nature on both sides. On the west side of the bay, you’ll find Sequim Bay State Park, complete with a year-round campground, hiking trails, and sports fields.

If you want to dock and explore a bit, Sequim is the largest town in the area with roughly 8,000 residents. With the nickname of ‘Sunny Sequim’, thanks to the annual average rainfall of Los Angeles, Sequim is an excellent town to explore any month of the year. The area is also known for the abundance of Dungeness crab, so make sure to find some local restaurants!


Looking for a new boat to explore Washington State and the surrounding islands? Check out Van Isle Marina’s current selection of new and used boats for sale and reach out if you have any questions. Also, feel free to drop by our marina in Sidney to view our selection, browse our facilities, and dine in our Sea Glass Waterfront Grill.

yacht parked at Van Isle Marina

What is a Yacht? (History, Types of Yachts, Styles and Sizes)

The word yacht comes from the Dutch word “jacht”, which means to hunt, and refers to the quick and lightweight sailboats the Dutch navy used to pursue pirates in shallow waters. In this article we break down some of the more common types of yachts along with various styles and sizes.

winter conditions in forest

How to Winterize Your Boat

Parliament Buildings

Things to Do in Victoria, British Columbia: The Boat Traveler’s Guide

Located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island just off Canada’s west coast is the charming city of Victoria. With a population just under 400,000, Victoria is a smaller city with a very small (and walkable) downtown core that attracts nearly 4 million tourists per year. But why in Victoria?

Why Victoria?

Victoria is an especially desirable destination for nearby boat travelers, who can make the relatively easy trip from the United States or mainland BC, find a boat marina, and explore the city on foot. There’s also a cruise ship port that empties thousands of visitors everyday (during the warmer months) into the downtown core.

One reason why Victoria is able to attract so many visitors is its alluring British colonial past and visually appealing façade, complete with old architecture, countless gardens, character homes and stunning harbour. And when you factor in the city’s very dense selection of restaurants, bars and attractions all within walking distance, it’s easy to see why people love visiting Victoria.

Another reason why people flock to Victoria is its unique climate. If you’re unfamiliar with Victoria weather, you might expect cold temperatures and snow, like typical Canadian cities. But Victoria, along with other destinations on the southwestern coast of Canada, enjoy a pleasantly mild climate. That means tolerable winters with minimal snow and temperatures that hardly ever drop below -5 degrees, and summers that are equally mild, rarely seeing heatwaves hotter than 30 degrees.

Victoria is also a quite deal drier than other destinations, like our not-so-far away neighbour, Vancouver. Despite being just around 100km apart from each other, Victoria’s yearly rainfall of 58cm dwarfs the yearly total of 146cm over in the big city.
So you’ve decided to make the trip to Victoria. What is there to do? In this article, we’ll be your personal guide to the city, detailing everything from the best restaurants to hotels to must-see attractions.


If you’ve arrived in Victoria by boat, the first thing you’ll need to arrange for is mooring. At Van Isle Marina located in Sidney, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Victoria, we offer moorage on a nightly, monthly and annual basis. We can store boats up to 200-feet in our 500 open and covered berths.

But aside from just a place to leave your boat while you set off exploring, you’ll probably be looking for a place that can provide other services. At Van Isle, we can haul your boat out for repairs, new paint or other maintenance. We also have a full-service fuel dock, a yacht park full of boats for sale, and the Sea Glass Waterfront Grill.


Transportation is an important factor to consider before you arrive in Victoria, because there is no high-speed or underground transit system. If you’re getting here by water, you’re probably arriving at the BC Ferries Swartz Bay Terminal, or at a marina like Van Isle. Both the ferry terminal and the marina are very near each other – about a 30-minute drive or a 45-minute bus ride from downtown Victoria. If you choose to hire a taxi or Uber, expect to pay more than $100. The bus on the other hand will take slightly longer, but will only cost $2.50 and will drop you directly downtown. If you’re arriving from the airport, expect about the same since its located near the ferry terminal.

If you’re arriving by cruise ship, you’ll be faced with a roughly 25-minute walk to reach the downtown core. There should be a number of shuttles taking you to and from, but if the weather’s nice, you can also take a more exciting and scenic rickshaw cab.

If you’re arriving from Port Angeles or Seattle, you will be whisked straight to Victoria’s Inner Harbour – right in the middle of the action. From here, you can remain 100% on foot, and as long as you don’t plan on leaving downtown, you’ll never need a car, bus or taxi.

The downtown core of Victoria is rather small and extremely walkable. But if you want to explore the Breakwater, Beacon Hill Park and other attractions that are still in town but a little far on foot, consider hopping on a bus, hiring an Uber, or catching a rickshaw or taxi.


If you’re hoping to stay near the major attractions in Victoria, there are plenty of hotels in the downtown core and James Bay neighbourhood. Many will offer stunning view of the Inner Harbour, plus walking distance proximity to all the best restaurants, shopping, and attractions.
The Fairmont Empress is one of Victoria’s most iconic buildings, sitting right at the edge of the Inner Harbour. Named after Queen Victoria, this massive hotel was constructed beginning in 1904, and remains one of the most popular hotels on Vancouver Island.

Near the Empress in the downtown core, you’ll find a variety of smaller hotels that put you right in the middle of the action for shopping, restaurants and bars. Try Hotel Rialto, Chateau Victoria or the Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel. If you move south towards the Parliament Buildings and other major attractions on the border of James Bay and Downtown, you’ll find much larger hotels like the Hotel Grand Pacific and the Inn at Laurel Point.

If a vacation rental is more your speed, there are variety of apartment units on Airbnb that are available as private rooms in shared homes or entire homes.


Victoria is home to the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of Canada, so you’ll be sure to find something to your taste. From ramen bars to upscale Italian restaurants and sushi spots, there’s really something for everyone. If you prefer staying near the marina and ferry terminal in Sidney, try the Sea Glass Waterfront Grill. With incredible marina views, they’ve got full dinner, dessert and lunch menus with plenty of seafood.

If you’re looking for the best of the best in downtown Victoria, there are a few notable options you need to check out. Pagliacci’s is a Victoria favourite known for Italian dishes, fun décor & live music. Il Terrazzo is a level fancier with brick fireplaces and an expansive wine list. Finn’s is another awesome spot that backs onto the harbour with a large patio, specializing in seafood, steaks & classic cocktails.

If you’re looking for something a little more casual in town, Red Fish Blue Fish is a great spot down on the harbour serving dockside seafood, but only open during the warmer months. 10 Acres Commons and Bistro is another cozy spot near the harbour, split into two parts – Commons for the waterfront patio and full cocktail menu, and Bistro for farm-to-fork meals. If you’re looking for Asian cuisine, try Ghost Ramen for some terrific ramen or Gozen Sushi Bar for some of the best sushi.


Despite its small size, Victoria is home to an incredible bar scene. If you’re in the mood for wine, try the new Tourist Wine Bar for a selection of local and imported wine, or Bodega for some delicious Spanish wine and tapas. Wind Cries Mary is another spot to venture for more upscale vibes, where you’ll find a huge wine list, romantic patio and fancy cocktails.

If you’re on the hunt for a cocktail bar, there are dozens of great options offering everything from quaint and cozy vibes to a more rustic atmosphere to trendy and upscale. Little Jumbo is a cozy but chill cocktail bar with an elevated cocktail menu. Tora Tiki is a retro-style bar with exotic cocktails and surf music. And if you want some views of the city, try Vista 18 on the 18th floor of the Chateau hotel.


Victoria has plenty or popular tourist attractions that are all reachable on foot, clustered around the downtown core and James Bay neighbourhoods. But if you want to get out more and tour the Victoria streets filled with character homes and gardens, try one of the double-decker tour buses.

One of the main attractions in Victoria is the Inner Harbour. One of the most beautiful in the world, the Victoria Inner Harbour is packed with recreational vessels, ferries, whale watching boats and small cruise ships, and is surrounded by other attractions, restaurants and bars. It’s also the place to be in the summer months for festivals, live music and sunset viewing.

The harbour is flanked by two of Victoria’s most iconic architectural landmarks and tourist attractions – the Empress Hotel and BC Parliament Buildings. The Royal BC Museum is also right there in the harbour, the sprawling Beacon Hill Park is 15-minute walk away.

Another major attraction that will require a car or bus to get to the is Butchart Gardens. Located in Brentwood Bay, this National Historic Site of Canada receives nearly a million visitors. There are roughly 5 hectares of gardens, which makes for a truly beautiful walk. The summer is the best time for checking out the gardens, but during the holiday season the gardens transform into a must-see winter wonderland.

If you want to check out more of Victoria’s charming colonial flavour closer to town, stop by the Craigdarroch Castle, a beautifully restored National Historic Site leftover from the Victorian-era. There’s also the stunning Carr House for art and literature enthusiasts, and the Pendray Inn and Tea House.

Victoria’s Chinatown is another must-see, located right in the middle of downtown. The colourful streets are lined with Chinese grocery stores and restaurants plus trendy coffee shops and shops. And be sure to take a stroll down the famous Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest commercial street in North America that’s packed with artisan shops.


The city of Victoria is no slouch when it comes to coffee shops. There are seemingly countless places to find a good cup of coffee or fancy latte. In the downtown core, some of the most popular are Discovery Coffee, with yellow branding, three locations and incredible locally-made pastries, and Habit Coffee, a cozy spot for a meeting with excellent coffee.

For a more historic spot to get your morning joe, try Murchie’s Tea and Coffee. Located right on Government Street in the main tourist zone, this spot is over 100 years old and is stocked with cakes, sandwiches and other treats.

Further down Government Street by the harbour is another fantastic spot called Milano. This trendy shop has an Italian feel with west coast design features, and is known for amazing espresso. Here you can sit along the windows or on the patio and take in all the action of Victoria’s busiest walking street.


As a centre of culture, arts and music, Victoria has plenty of venues and things to do that will keep you entertained no matter how long your stay is. The Royal Theatre and MacPherson Playhouse are two of the busiest venues for musical performances, comedy shows and plays. The nearby Belfry Theatre in Fernwood is another excellent place to catch a live performance.

For live music, there are bars and special venues that provide nightly entertainment. Darcy’s Pub, Hermann’s Jazz Club, The Duke Saloon and Bard & Banker are some of the best bars to enjoy live music. To catch live shows from touring artists, check out what’s playing at the Capital Ballroom, the Alix Goolden Performance Hall or the Victoria Event Centre.

If you’re looking for something a little outdoorsy, Victoria has plenty to offer with mountains, hiking trails, rivers and lakes a short car ride away. But if you’re new in town and would rather stay downtown, the whale watching tours leaving from the Inner Harbour are bucket list-quality.


If you’re thinking about visiting Victoria by boat, Van Isle Marina is your one-stop-shop. We’ve got moorage slips, and can provide full maintenance services for boat owners. We’ve also got a restaurant, haul-out services, and everything a boat owner could need. Contact us today to inquire.

Essential Off-Season Haul-Out Services for Your Boat

yacht park haul outs

Summer is for spending as much time as possible on the water. But when your island-hopping excursions and weekend fishing trips are wrapped up for the season, it’s time to get started on critical boat maintenance and upkeep.

The fall and winter seasons are the ideal time to take care of your boat and show it some love by getting everything taken care of in preparation for next summer. At Van Isle Marina, you will have access to a full assortment of haul-out maintenance services to keep your boat in peak condition and looking fantastic. In this article, we’re going to break down each of those essential services.

Battery Servicing

When you’re ready to haul your boat out for the season, the battery is one of the first things that will need to be looked at. After all, without a proper functioning battery, you aren’t going to have a great time out on the water. If you properly maintain your battery, you can expect 4 or 5 full seasons of boating without needing to replace it.

One of the main problems we often encounter with batteries is components coming out of place due to the vibrations and movement of your boat. Battery cables can come loose and cause engine failure, plus the nuts holding down the battery can come ajar. We don’t service batteries directly here at Van Isle Marina, but we’re a hub for many different skilled trades with various specializations (including batteries), so we’d be happy to refer you to a specialist located on site.

Fuel Systems Maintenance

fuel station

Your fuel systems are another area that need attention to ensure your boat runs smoothly all season long. Plus, of course, the type of fuel you put in your boat makes a difference. Fuel blended with ethanol can cause all sorts of problems, such as erosion of plastic, rubber and metal. It can also cause your engine to run too hot and exhaust the valves.

At Van Isle, we offer both diesel and ethanol-free premium gasoline, with a variety of other fuel additives available for sale in our fuel dock store. While we don’t service engines ourselves, we’d be happy to refer you to an on-site team that specializes in engine maintenance.

Power Washing

Power washing is essential maintenance for any type of boat that’s been on the water. Regular service can help your boat look sparkly clean, but power washing does far more than help your boat aesthetically.

Out on the water, your boat is exposed to plenty of harmful elements that can cause damage if left untreated, such as oxidation, humidity, bird droppings and even just the salt in the water. Plus, if you’re travelling in certain areas, your boat can also be exposed to hard water, acid rain and smog. Microplastics in the water are also known to breed parasites which can affect not only people and fish, but your boat too.

When you’re finished with your annual boating season, head to Van Isle Marina to get your boat fully cleaned and detoxed. When power washing a boat, we focus on the hull to scrub away marine growth build up. We can also detail other areas of your boat, or refer you to an on-site boat detailing specialist.

Bottom Painting

A fresh coat of paint for your boat is great off-season maintenance to tick off your checklist. Not only will your boat look excellent with a new coat, marine paints such as epoxy, enamel, and anti-fouling can also provide another layer of protection.

That’s because marine paint isn’t like any other paint you’d use around the house – it’s designed to withstand the harsh conditions out in the ocean. If you use the right paint, it’s actually resistant to both water and salt, which means you’ll be able to defend against high levels of moisture, corrosive environments and even UV radiation. Marine paint is similar to sunscreen for our skin. By protecting against all of these elements, you can dramatically increase the integrity of your boat and its lifespan.

The main purpose for using anti-fouling paint is that it slows the growth of marine organisms from growing on the surface of your boat, while also facilitating the detachment of marine life when the boat starts moving.

Contact our marina maintenance experts when you come to get your boat serviced. Stop by Van Isle Marina and we’d be happy to apply a new coat of paint and replace the zincs on your boat.

Dry Storage

When your boat has been treated to its full maintenance routine for the season, you’re going to want a secure space to store your boat until you’re ready to use it again. As opposed to leaving it in a driveway or parking lot, a storage facility for your boat like the one at Van Isle Marina is far more preferable. Our area is fenced, complete with a security system, and it is monitored by cameras to ensure boat owners have peace of mind when their boat is stored. Check out our full list of dry storage features.

At Van Isle Marina, we can accommodate trailers with unlimited ramp access, plus all boats up to 70 feet in length. Our dry storage prices vary per foot. Depending on the amount of time you need storage for we can offer monthly rates, and special rates & packages for annual storage customers. Contact us today to learn more about our dry storage facility and all other essential haul-out maintenance services for your boat.

5 Reasons to Consider Buying a Pursuit Offshore Boat

Life in coastal British Columbia is nothing short of spectacular. From the appealing mild weather to the stunning BC scenery dotted with quaint islands, lush forests and towering mountain ranges, we’ve got plenty to explore. But in order to fully take advantage of everything this beautiful province has to offer, you’re going to need a boat – and not just any boat.

Pursuit’s line of offshore boats are perfectly designed for exploring the coast of BC and its surroundings. Their award-winning offshore boats are designed with comfort top of mind. Completely safe in the open ocean, these boats will allow you to live, work and relax for extended periods of time, both securely and enjoyably.

In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the key reasons to consider buying a Pursuit boat for your weekend fishing trips, romantic island getaways, family day trips and everything in between.

Comfortable for Long Trips

One of the biggest selling points for Pursuit’s line of offshore boats is the comfort level, meticulously designed and built for weeks long and even months long trips. Ranging from 32 feet – 46 feet, the offshore line provides true live-aboard space for you and your passengers.

In each model, you’ll find berths in either the forward or aft sections (or both), which will allow 2-4 people to sleep comfortably. You’ll also find a fully functional galley complete with maple cabinets, a glass cooktop, microwave and stainless-steel refrigerator, along with an enclosed head with a stand-up shower.

But aside from the galley and head, which will provide you the functionality of home, Pursuit’s offshore boats also come standard with various entertainment options, from the JL Audio System to LED TVs.

Everything from the complete functionality down to the specially crafted upholstery will ensure you’re truly equipped for long, comfortable trips in a Pursuit offshore boat.

Fishing Capabilities

If you’re passionate about fishing or curious about diving into the hobby, coastal BC is an excellent place to be. And with a Pursuit offshore boat, you’ll have all the capability you’ll need. Like all Pursuit models, the offshore line comes standard with plenty of rod holders, live wells, fish boxes, tackle storage and cabin rod storage space. To learn more, check the specifications that are available with each Pursuit offshore model.

Along with specific features designed for fishing, there are other aspects of the Pursuit offshore models that make them ideal for fishing. Standard in every model is an anchoring system, bow thruster and dedicated transducer location. There are also safety features built in that can go a long way when fishing, such as grab rails and anti-slip cockpit flooring.

Beauty in the Details

The Pursuit offshore series are highly functional boats designed for fishing and longer trips with family and friends. But that doesn’t mean that anything has been sacrificed when it comes to style and design. Front to back and top to bottom, the offshore series is beautifully designed and meticulously crafted.

Every model features a hand-laminated hull and moulded frameless tempered glass windows. When you custom order a Pursuit boat, you’ll have your choice of hull, helm, boot stripe and interior colour packages. And when you head down into the cabin, you’ll notice no detail has been left out. From the stainless steel and countertops to the upholstery to the luxurious head, the Pursuit offshore line exemplifies beauty in the details.

Purpose Built & Protected

For decades, Pursuit has been committed to designing and building high quality offshore boats. Whether you’re buying an offshore boat or a model from one of their other lines like Dual Console, Centre Console or Sport, they like to say every Pursuit Boat is ‘purpose-built’.

While the term ‘purpose-built’ is usually applied to necessity, Pursuit boats are built with a very different purpose in mind – for romantic weekend getaways, beach days with the family and fishing expeditions with your friends. The purpose is bliss. And it’s evident in every stitch, fixture and surface.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Pursuit is willing to put their money where their mouth is with the Pursuit Protection Plan. Regardless of which model you end up purchasing, each Pursuit boat comes standard with:

  • 5-year hull/deck structural warranty
  • 5-year blister-free warranty
  • 2-year limited warranty

As a new Pursuit boat owner, the Pursuit Protection Plan goes a long way in providing you with real peace of mind. After all, it’s a big investment. And you can rest easy knowing the manufacturer has your back.


Along with being one of the largest full-service marinas in the province, Van Isle Marina is proud to be the exclusive dealer of Pursuit Boats in Western Canada. So if you’re looking to purchase a Pursuit yacht, you’re in the right place. At our docks right now, we have a selection of both the OS325 and OS355 models.

The OS325 model is the smallest model in the offshore collection at 34 feet, but it is every bit of stylish and will comfortably sleep two guests. You’ll still find the hardwood, sleek stainless steel and LED TV. It’s got twin Yamaha F300 engines that give you cruising speeds of 30 mph and a fuel tank capacity of 370 gallons.

The OS355 model is the midsize offshore model at 38 feet, powered by triple Yamaha engines for an extra kick. This model sleeps four with a little more seating and storage, and a larger galley, TV and live well.

When it comes time to actually purchase your new boat, Van Isle Marina can provide some real peace of mind. Apart from our highly experienced Yacht Sales team, we offer the full collection of vessel documentation services, including:

  • Title & Lien Search
  • Closing Statement
  • Transfer of Funds
  • Bill of Sale
  • License Transfer
  • Casual Remittance Return Form

To browse our collection of Pursuit offshore boats, come visit our docks at Van Isle Marina. Located at 2320 Harbour Road in Sidney (Google Maps), in Tsehum Harbour, our marina is just minutes away from the BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal and the Victoria International Airport. Reach us by phone at 250-656-1138 or contact us today!

Exploring Vancouver Island by Boat: From Van Isle Marina to Northern Vancouver Island

Best Places to See When Exploring Vancouver Island


Exploring Vancouver Island’s lush rainforests and beautiful beaches is a boater’s dream. Starting at Van Isle Marina on your map of Vancouver Island, BC, this guide to sailing Vancouver Island will highlight the best places to visit along the east coast culminating in northern Vancouver Island at the tip of Cape Scott Provincial Park.


No car, no problem. This guide to locations and activities has been carefully crafted with a boater in mind to be only a short paddle, walk or bike ride away. So, pull out your Vancouver Island map and follow along to chart your course of charming and unique destinations along Vancouver Island’s eastern coast. An adventure awaits.

8 Stop Worthy Spots from Van Isle Marina to Campbell River

Starting at Van Isle Marina on the tip of the Saanich Peninsula and heading north through the Southern Gulf Islands, you will find many interesting small towns to explore as well as stunning, wildlife-filled coastlines. Some recommended stops include:

While at Van Isle Marina – Borrow a courtesy bicycle for a quick ride to an outdoor activity that will appeal to everyone – Robert’s Bay Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary (750 m). Victoria Distillers (3 km) provides a taste of something local, while Glass Beach (3 km) will keep the treasure hunter occupied.


Explore the Float Homes at Cowichan Bay Village – Enjoy the slow pace as you wander the float-home lined bay, browse for unique trinkets and enjoy the fish & chips at The Rock Cod in North America’s first Cittaslow designated community.


Shop Salt Spring Island’s Farmers Market  Stock up on fresh local produce, mouth-watering baking, one-of-a-kind clothing, and internationally acclaimed art from one of the many friendly artisans at this famous Saturday market. Doggy daycare is available too.


Discover all the Murals in Chemainus – With over fifty murals and sculptures to guide you through the town of Chemainus, this community-driven art tourism experience provides a new twist on a walk around town.


Bite Into an Award-Winning Cinnamon Bun in Ladysmith – Take a short walk for a sweet treat. With nine cinnamon bun flavours to choose from and a host of house-made baked goods, there’s something to suit everyone at Old Town Bakery.


Bike Around Saysutshun (Newcastle Island) – This Marine Provincial Park, home of the Snuneymuxw people, is a stone’s throw away from Nanaimo. Rent a bike or walk the many hiking trails to see if you can find an elusive white raccoon foraging through a tidal pool. Saysutshun is one of the only known locations white raccoons have been encountered in British Columbia. Look for moon snails at low tides as you walk to Protection Island.

Explore the Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island – This unusual wavelike formation carved into the sandstone peninsula is an awe-inspiring landmark worth exploring. Best visited at low tide, the Malaspina Galleries are admission free and accessible to the public.


Shuck a Huge Fanny Bay Oyster – On your way to discovering the coastal trails on Denman Island and Hornby Island, anchor and visit the Fanny Bay seafood shop and get your hands dirty. Create your own tide-to-table experience with their fresh and sustainably sourced seafood and slurp-worthy oysters.

7 Adventures from Campbell River to Cape Sutil

Continuing the journey to northern Vancouver Island, travel through wildlife-rich waters where the island meets the mainland. Keep your eyes peeled for orcas, whales, sea lions, bald eagles and a plethora of other sea life while enjoying your journey between these recommended locations:


Sail Around Quadra Island – If sailing Vancouver Island’s iconic locations is on your bucket list, Quadra Island is the perfect destination. Renowned in the Pacific Northwest for its protected anchorages and accessible beaches, the island’s late-summer placid water is ideal for cruising. Weather systems at any time of the year make for exciting sailing in Quadra’s many open channels.


Whale Watch at Robson Bight – The barnacle-encrusted rocks of Robson Bight attract pods of orcas to this stretch of Johnstone Strait. Unfortunately, the ecological reserve is closed to the public. However, nearby Boat Bay or Growler Cove on West Cracroft Island make excellent whale-watching anchorages. Help keep these magnificent mammals safe by following the Federal Watching Guidelines.


Rent a Cottage at Telegraph Cove – One of eastern Vancouver Islands’ last boardwalk communities, Telegraph Cove, transports you to another time. Steeped in history, this colourful community of cabins still stands on stilts. Treat yourself to a night off your boat at one of the many charming rentals and enjoy the self-guided historical boardwalk tour. This convenient location provides access to paddling opportunities, outdoor adventures, and abundant Pacific marine wildlife in the Broughton Archipelago and Johnstone Strait.


Immerse Yourself in Culture at Alert Bay – Be sure to spend a Saturday on Cormorant Island to enjoy the T’sasala Cultural Group Dance Performance in the ‘Namgis Traditional Big House (July & August). While you’re here, marvel at the world’s tallest Totem Pole and immerse yourself in the rich history of the local people at the U’mista Cultural Centre.


Take a Wander Around Port McNeill – Take a break from exploring the Broughton Archipelago in Port McNeill – home to the world’s largest burl. Stroll the seawall and carry on downtown to Broughton Boulevard to view this thirty-ton bulbous growth taken from a Sitka Spruce.


Meet the Locals in Port Hardy – The Totems and Big Houses that stand tall amongst the towering Douglas Fir trees in Port Hardy connect you to the story of the Quatsino and Gwa’sala’ Nakwaxda’xw peoples. Grab a coffee at Café Guido and meander through the Hardy Bay Seawall and Carrot Park, wonderful places to chat with locals.


Plan an Adventure at Cape Scott Provincial Park – If you want to get out and stretch your legs after cruising the entire east coast of the island, the North Coast Trail provides a challenging multi-day adventure for experienced backpackers. The sea stacks at San Josef Bay and sandy beaches are a stunning stop-off for those more interested in a day trip. Find anchorage at Bull Harbour on Hope Island to prepare for your west coast adventure and ready yourself to round the cape if you’re circumnavigating the island.


Van Isle Marina – Excellence and Value in Every Marina Experience

Whichever locations you choose to explore on Vancouver Island, be sure to stop at the premier marina in the Pacific Northwest, Van Isle Marina. As one of the largest full-service marinas in British Columbia, our unparalleled personal service will meet all your needs. Let us know how Van Isle Marina can help you plan your trip sailing Vancouver Island.


We are located in Tsehum Harbour, just minutes from BC Ferries’ Swartz Bay terminal, and the Victoria International Airport. Directions by car, boat, coordinates and chart can all be found at


Journey to the Broken Group Islands: Your Guide to Boating and Exploring This Stunning Destination

The Broken Group Islands: A Boater’s Paradise

Scattered at the mouth of Barkley Sound, between Ucluelet and Bamfield, the Broken Group Islands welcome travellers with stunning vistas and an incredible array of wildlife.

Consisting of over 100 islands, islets and rocky outcrops just begging to be explored, the Broken Islands Group offers adventures for boaters and landlubbers alike.

The Broken Islands form part of the traditional territories of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, the Toquaht Nation and the Uchucklesaht Tribe, each of whom has treaty rights involving the Pacific Rim Park National Reserve.

Benson Island is considered to be the birthplace of the Tseshaht First Nation and is believed to have been consistently occupied for at least 5,000 years. Honouring the cultural history of the island, the Tseshaht house post welcomes visitors to what was once the cultural center of the Tseshaht.

Whether you prefer to skim along the water in a kayak, take in the natural beauty from your sailboat, explore any of the many rocky beaches, or soak in the rich cultural history, a trip to the Broken Islands is one you’re sure to remember.

Read on for everything you need to know to plan a journey from Van Isle Marina to the Broken Islands Group.

Getting To the Broken Islands

While the Broken Islands Group are a part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, they are naturally only accessible by boat.

If getting there by kayak is to your taste, you’ll find a convenient launch at Secret Beach Campground and Kayak Launch, which is about a 45-minute drive east of Ucluelet.

If you wish to explore by yacht, there are several marinas to launch from in both Ucluelet and Bamfield, but remember that none of the islands have docks, so you will need to be familiar with off-shore anchoring techniques.

A great way to combine travelling with sightseeing is by equipping your larger craft with a kayak or canoe. That way, you have the freedom to spend your time in the Broken Islands kayaking from island to island, exploring the shorelines and even pulling onto beaches for a while.

Tip: Research the area before you arrive and utilize a detailed Broken Islands map to plan mooring and exploring locations.

Note: If you’re hoping to launch from your Sidney, BC, Van Isle Marina base to travel up to Barkley Sound, you will need to plan for a trip consisting of several adventure-filled days. 

Camping in The Broken Group Islands

As part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, camping in the Broken Islands is a great travel choice for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.

Campgrounds can be found on the following islands:

  • Gilbert
  • Hand
  • Turret
  • Gibraltar
  • Clarke
  • Dodd
  • Willis

Parks Canada insists that all camping be confined to these designated areas. While there are basic facilities, such as solar composting outhouses, you will need to bring your own water supply and take your garbage with you.

The Tseshaht Nation works with Parks Canada to share the beauty and history of their traditional territory with the public with initiatives like the Beach Keeper program. Continuing a cultural history of land stewardship, volunteer Beach Keepers are onsite to welcome campers and adventurers, as well as provide safety information and advice.

Note: Campers heading to the Broken Islands for their getaway will need to make sure they have a Backcountry Camping Permit in addition to a National Park Entry Pass, both of which can be obtained through the National Park’s online reservation system.

Tips for Camping on the Broken Islands

Since the campgrounds in the Broken Islands Group are nestled in the wilderness and offer only basic amenities, there are a few things you should bear in mind when planning to camp there:

  • Bring biodegradable soap
  • Hang tarps with rope, not nails
  • Make sure to store food and garbage safely away from wildlife
  • Dogs are not allowed unless they are service dogs
  • Pack out what you bring in

Broken Island Wildlife

The natural land and seascapes created by the Broken Group Islands are second to none, but the diverse wildlife is where the Broken Islands truly shine. Boaters and campers alike can spot grey whales, humpback whales, transient orca, mink, bald eagles, seals and sea lions, otters, and more shorebirds than anyone can count.

Scuba divers will be treated to a spectacular array of anemones, fish, crabs and sea stars as they explore the ocean floor. Also, while they might not be typical, cougars, wolves and bears are sometimes spotted.

Staying Safe Around the Broken Islands

The most important thing to remember when you visit the Broken Group Islands is that you are in a wilderness area that is subject to nature and fast weather changes.

With that in mind, there are a few safety tips to consider when planning your trip to the Broken Islands:

  • Use a cooking stove instead of cooking over a fire
  • Keep all fires below the high tideline
  • Keep all food and garbage safely stored
  • Check your campsite for dangerous trees before you set up
  • The Imperial Eagle and Loudoun Channels are prone to strong winds, making these difficult to travel by kayak or other small vessels
  • If the waters are rough, you should pull into the nearest campground instead of the one you planned on
  • Barkley Sound faces the open ocean, so it is prone to harsh ocean conditions, which can mean large swells, rough winds and strong currents
  • The Broken Group Islands are a maze of reefs, islets, islands, and submerged rocks, so navigation can be difficult. Carry a Broken Islands map and navigational tools such as a compass when on the water.
  • Be aware of other marine traffic in your area
  • As with any outdoor adventuring, exposure to the elements is a concern. Make sure you check the weather forecast for the area and bring appropriate clothing.
  • You are sharing space with wildlife, some of which include cougars, bears and wolves. Be mindful of your surroundings.

With a bit of preparation and a healthy dose of caution, you can enjoy an outdoor adventure in a truly stunning setting and return home with memories to last a lifetime.

Planning Your Broken Islands Journey from Van Isle Marina

At Van Isle Marina, our yacht sales team can help you find the perfect boat for your planned adventures.

Talk to one of our crew members onsite, or contact us today for assistance.

BC Fishing Regulations: 6 Things You Need to Know Before Saltwater Fishing

A Complete Overview of BC Fishing Regulations on the Ocean

The west coast of Canada is a fishing enthusiast’s paradise, and we all want to keep it that way. That’s why BC fishing regulations are designed to ensure that the resident species can be fished without being depleted too quickly. 

While fishing regulations may seem inconvenient to some, they act as on-paper stewardship for the marine ecosystem, ensuring fish populations remain strong for generations to come.

Read on to learn 6 things you should know before saltwater fishing on the west coast, including the saltwater fishing regulations BC enforces, licensing rules and the types of fish found in British Columbia’s coastal waters.

6 Things to Know About Saltwater Fishing in BC 

Even frequent anglers can’t be expected to remember all the fishing regulations for British Columbia. So, it’s always good to refresh your knowledge before going out on a fishing trip, especially for a species with which you are less familiar. 

As a starting point, here are five things you should know about before saltwater fishing in BC.

1. BC Saltwater Fish Species

BC’s coastal waters are home to a wide variety of saltwater fish species, including some considered “anadromous,” meaning that they spend part of their lifecycle in the ocean and in freshwater.

While fishing species like halibut, ling cod, albacore tuna and any of the 5 types of salmon are among the most popular to fish, there are many species that anglers are likely to come into contact with in the oceans off BC’s west coast.

This Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish identifier list for the Pacific region details the fish found in the area and how to identify them.

2. Fishing Licensing Rules in BC

By law, anyone who wishes to go fishing in British Columbia must have the correct license. To catch any species of shellfish or finfish, you will need a BC Tidal Waters Sport Fishing License. 

It is useful to know the following regulations connected to the use of a BC Tidal Waters Sport Fishing license:

  • The license is not transferable.
  • The license must be carried when fishing and produced on request by conservation officers, fishery officers or guardians. 
  • All retained halibut and chinook caught in a Management Area must be recorded on the license.
  • All retained ling cod caught in waters off the eastern coast and southern tip of Vancouver Island (Management areas 12-19 plus 20-5 to 20-7, and 29-5) must be recorded on the license.
  • BC salmon fishing regulations state that anyone intending to catch and retain any species of Salmon must have a Salmon Conservation Stamp in addition to their BC Tidal Waters Sport Fishing License. However, the stamp is optional if the angler intends to release all Salmon caught.

3. License Types and Fees

There are various saltwater fishing license options available depending on how often you plan to go ocean fishing. You must choose a non-resident license if you are not a resident of Canada. 

You can find details of the types of licenses available, their associated fee and an online license application here.

Note: Although children under 16 require a tidal water fishing license, it is free.

4. Saltwater Fishing Gear Restrictions

Since saltwater fishing often goes beyond the simple fishing rod and hook gear selection, there are regulations in place to specify and restrict how much and what kind of gear may be used in catching saltwater fish.

Looking for a new fishing boat? Read more about the best boats for fishing.


Below is a quick breakdown of the restrictions and allowances surrounding using particular gear.


  • Gear restrictions and allowances are subject to change mid-season.
  • You can use multiple rods in coastal tidal waters, but only one rod is allowed when fishing in BC’s tidal rivers.
  • You may not use a sinker weighing more than 1 kg unless you use a downrigger line. In this case, the fishing line must be attached to the downrigger with a release clip.
  • A gillnet for smelt fishing may be at most 7.5 meters, with a mesh size between 25 mm and 50 mm.
  • Only one gillnet may be used at one time and must have a buoy with the owner’s details clearly marked on it.
  • If you use a dipnet to catch mackerel, smelt, sand lance, sardines or anchovies, it must measure at most 90 cm, with a bag no longer than 1.5 times that measurement.


  • Barbed hooks, including triple-barbed hooks, may be used for all finfish except salmon and trout.
  • Barbless hooks must be used when fishing in the tidal waters of BC rivers.
  • Your line may only have one hook except for:
    • Multiple hooks may attach a piece of bait to the line, provided they aren’t intended to catch more than one fish.
    • Multiple hooks may catch mackerel, herring, anchovy, Pacific Sand Lance or Pacific Sardine.

Using Fish as Bait

  • Fish suitable for human consumption may not be used as bait in sport fishing.
  • Fish offal, mackerel, sardines, or herring may be used when baiting traps.

5. Be Aware of Daily Catch Limits

Catch limits protect local fish populations while allowing anglers to retain something from their catch. Because some fish species have healthier populations than others, daily limits for saltwater fishing in BC vary according to the species and the Management Area you are fishing in.

Always research daily catch limits for the area you are fishing in before setting off and remember to record all halibut, chinook and lingcod catches on your license.

6. Reporting Your Catch

To monitor the impact of recreational fishing on the species found in BCs oceans, DFO requires any BC Tidal Water Sports Fishing licence holder aged over 16 to report their complete catch, whether retained or not, for a fixed period.

For example, an annual license holder will be asked to report all catches for one specific month, indicated on their licence.

Participation in this recreational monitoring program is mandatory and a condition of being granted a license. 

Get On the Water and Catch the Big One

Now you know the regulations and licensing requirements, it’s time to get out onto the beautiful west coast ocean and get fishing!

You can easily access the world’s best sports fishing from your southern Vancouver Island base at Van Isle Marina.

Do you need a new fishing boat to get you out to the best fishing spots? Our yacht sales team can help you find the perfect vessel. Contact us today to find out more.