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Squid fishing around vancouver island

Squid Fishing Around Vancouver Island

All You Need to Know About Fishing for Squid

If you are fond of fishing and the taste of calamari, you might want to try your luck at squid fishing. Although these cephalopods are not as large or visible as their fishy friends, they are relatively easy to catch around Vancouver Island.

Unlike common catches in the region such as trout, salmon or halibut, fishing for squid requires a lighter approach – literally. Despite lurking in the dark fringes of the water, squid are drawn to bright lights.

To help you catch some squid, we’ll cover the most popular spots for squid fishing around Vancouver Island as well as the best time of year and day to go. Given the right gear and technique, you’ll be squid jigging like a pro in no time. 

Best Time to Go Squid FishingBest time to go squid fishing

In comparison to salmon or halibut fishing, squid fishing or jigging in British Columbia is quite uncommon. This is likely because squid are somewhat of an irregular phenomenon.

Every few years, the squid arrive in droves. The region’s coastal waters become teeming with Pacific Coast squid, also known as California market squid or opal squid. These translucent creatures are usually between 15 to 20 cm in length but could reach as large as 30 cm.

As their name suggests, these squid are most abundant in California. However, they are also the most common type found along British Columbia’s coast. Market squid can be found all along the west coast near the intertidal zone. 

Spawning in British Columbia typically happens anytime between December and September. During a squid run, huge aggregations of squid swim closer to shallow water to mate and spawn. This typically occurs for a week or two but can last for as long as a month. Since squid die shortly after spawning, this is an ideal time for anglers to go squid fishing.

During the summer months, Pacific Coast squid spawn in the bays and inlets of Vancouver Island. In the wintertime, you’ll probably find more success if you take your boat up the Strait of Georgia or Queen Charlotte Strait.

How To Catch Squid: Best Squid Jigging TechniquesHow to catch a squid: best jigging techniques

Although it is possible to catch squid at any time of the day, these little predators are most active at night. Therefore, if you’re planning a fishing trip specifically to catch squid, consider going after dark.

Despite preferring to stay in dark areas, squid prowl illuminated patches of water for smaller squid, fish and crustaceans. Once they spot prey – or lure that resembles it – they ambush by wrapping their tentacles around it.

As such, squid fishing requires a good jigging technique. Nothing beats practice but the following tips should help you hook some tentacles on your squid jig.

  • If you’re fishing for squid at night, choose a spot near an artificial light source. Many squid fishermen bring their own or fish near a pier. 
  • Cast your line in a manner that allows the jig to reach the bottom, close to the edge of the lighted water. 
  • Quickly jolt the line upwards for a few centimetres. Afterwards, let the jig sink again and reel some slack. Continue to repeat this jigging motion until a squid latches on.
  • Once you feel movement or notice a weight difference on your reel, firmly set the hook. If you have multiple jigs on your line, you can choose to reel in the line or let the jig sink again to catch more squid.

It might take you some time to get used to the jigging technique. The most important thing is not to give up. Fishing requires patience and persistence after all.

Gear Essentials When Fishing For Squid Gear Essentials when fishing for squid

In terms of gear, squid jigging is highly flexible and affordable. Anglers only need the following equipment to enjoy this pastime:

  • Squid Jigs: Squid jigs or lures come in a variety of colours, sizes and weights. Trial and error will help you determine which jig setups work better under certain weather conditions and water clarity.
  • Rod: Choosing the right reel ultimately depends on preference. However, many find the most success with a long and lightweight trout rod.
  • Reel: Any spinning reel should work well. Depending on where you decide to fish, it might be best to opt for a saltwater reel and rod to prevent damage to your gear.
  • Line: Since squid have little to no weight, you need to feel subtle changes and movement. A light monofilament line allows you to detect squid on your jigs better.
  • Light Source (Optional): Anglers who go squid fishing at night will usually sport a bright headlamp or some other light source. Some will even string LED lights around their boat to attract more squid.

If you decide to fish from your boat at night, it’s important to take the necessary precautions. Check the weather beforehand and ensure your vessel is equipped with emergency and safety equipment. It’s also wise to anchor your boat to prevent drifting away from your chosen spot.

Giant Squid Fishing in BC?

An invasion of giant squid with a reputation for attacking humans might sound like the plot of a horror film, but it’s been the reality of many Vancouver Island towns for the past few years. 

Since hundreds of Humboldt squid washed up on Tofino’s shores in 2009, sightings of this predatory species have become increasingly common. Due to rising water temperatures along B.C.’s coast, these originally Mexico-based giant squid are unlikely to go away anytime soon.

As a result of their invasive and aggressive nature, giant squid fishing might actually help to preserve the province’s marine coastal ecosystems. Nevertheless, be careful not to exceed the catch limits for squid or fish-restricted areas in the region.

In most areas around Vancouver Island, the daily limit for squid is:

  • 20 Humboldt Squid
  • 200 Opal Squid

Where Can I Catch Squid on Vancouver Island?

One of the biggest benefits of fishing for squid by boat is access to less crowded waters. This could significantly improve your chances of successfully catching squid.

Potential fishing spots in the area where locals have noticed the presence of squid include: 

  • Tofino
  • Nanaimo
  • Port Renfrew
  • Victoria
  • Barkley Sound
  • Central Saanich
  • Sidney

If you want to try squid jigging on your very own fishing boat Van Isle Marina’s team of experts can help. Our full-service marina is conveniently located in Sidney, BC, one of the best places to fish for squid on Vancouver Island.

In addition to our wide selection of yachts and boats, we have a marine store for all of your basic fishing gear needs. Come down to the harbour to check out the rest of our amenities or contact us today.

the best swimming spots on vancouver island for boaters

The Best Swimming Spots on Vancouver Island for Boaters

Swimming Holes Accessible by Boat on Vancouver Island

If you are looking for boat-accessible swimming holes, Vancouver Island is the place to be. Filled with numerous rivers, lakes and beaches that are accessible only by boat, there are many places to anchor your boat to go for a safe and exhilarating swim.

Here’s a list of some of the best swimming spots around Vancouver Island that are safe and fun for the whole family and reachable in a day from Van Isle Marina.

Snake Island

This Nanaimo swimming spot located near Departure Bay is a favourite among locals and visitors who reach it by boat, kayak or canoe. The small, uninhabited island is renowned for its diving experiences, bird watching opportunities and the chance to get up-close and personal with some harbour seals. If you do choose to wade or paddle in the Snake Island waters, be on high alert for ferries and other boaters in this busy waterway.

Rugged Point Marine Park

Turn your swimming hole adventure into a camping trip at Rugged Point Marine Park. This park is located on the west coast of northern Vancouver Island at the southwest end of Kyuquot Channel. The park is packed with camping amenities and opportunities to enjoy other activities such as canoeing, fishing, and windsurfing. Take some time to explore the hiking trails too. Anchor your yacht in Rugged Cove or Dixie Cove both popular spots among local boaters thanks to their safe anchoring areas.

Broken Group Islandsswimming holes in Broken Group Islands

Take a longer-haul boat trip to the Broken Group Islands on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In order to fully explore this cluster of stunning islands, drop your anchor and get into your kayaks. Swimming and snorkelling are a must when visiting the Broken Group Islands as you might even be able to see some fish.

Grant Bay

Skip the hike to Grant Bay and sail through it instead via the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, secluded white sandy beach to relax and swim at. This remote recreation area has day-use facilities and rustic campsites, or take the chance to try out some boat camping

Vargas Island Provincial ParkSwimming at Vargas Island Provincial Park

This boat-side swimming hole comes with the addition of great wildlife viewing and camping amenities at Vargas Island Provincial Park in Clayoquot Sound. Access the island by boat immediately northwest of Tofino and west of Meares Island on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

You’ll see sheltered channels and bays, an intertidal lagoon and ancient sand berms. If you’re lucky you might see grey whales frolicking nearby.

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park

This provincial park and popular Vancouver Island swimming hole close to Cortes Island on the east coast is known as a boater’s paradise. Visitors can enjoy the calm waters and vistas while taking in a long stretch of shoreline. Moor in one of three anchorage points: Prideaux Haven, Tenedos Bay or Grace Harbour.

Freshwater lake swimming is available at Unwin Lake, a short 10-minute walk from Tenedos Bay. Desolation Sound is a popular spot, so expect to see other boaters, but rest assured there is plenty of room for everyone.

Lasqueti Island

Off the east coast of Vancouver Island is a scenic swimming hole in Lasqueti Island. This off-grid island has a population of 500 people and no public campgrounds, but the waters are ideal for cold water scuba diving. If you’re boating in the area and have your scuba license, take the plunge and discover some deep-sea magic.

Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Provincial Park

Treat yourself to a geothermal swimming experience that’s just northwest of Tofino in Clayoquot Sound. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Hot Springs Cove is surrounded by the stunning scenery of Maquinna Provincial Park. You’ll have to anchor your boat and go for a 2km hike along sturdy boardwalks and wooden stairs through the rainforest to access the hot springs, but the journey is well worth it and the long soak in the naturally heated water is a great reward.

Rathtrevor Beach

Along the east coast lies one of the best swimming spots of Vancouver Island, Rathtrevor Beach. This 2km long sandy beach is a well-loved landmark and offers safe swimming for younger children thanks to shallow warm water and low tide.  A provincial campsite, plenty of picnic tables and educational activities for the whole family make this a great spot to explore. Since it sits along the Strait of Georgia, Rathtrevor Beach is an ideal place to drop anchor and enjoy a swim.

Kye Bayswimming spots at Kye Bay in Comox

Kye Bay, in Comox, offers a lot of adventure possibilities for boating families. During the summer months, the ocean water temperature is moderate and great for swimming. Shallow tidal pools filled with marine life and a superior texture of sand ideal for building sandcastles makes this a perfect place to drop anchor.  You can bring the whole family to this lovely bay, including your dog.

First Lake, Nanaimo

If you can tow your boat, consider taking the logging roads just south of Nanaimo to First Lake, a shallow freshwater lake with a publicly accessible boat launch. The lake, part of a chain of three lakes that link to the Nanaimo River, is the site of an old timber mill and there are a few private campsites dotted along the eastern shore.

While in the area, don’t miss the must-do local summer experience. Follow the stream of cars to one of the many Nanaimo River swimming holes which are beautifully clear and fresh on a hot summer’s day.

Make Your Next Boating Adventure Happen with a New Yacht from Van Isle Marina

Boat ownership can unlock many opportunities to explore and create new memories with family and friends.

Tap into your inner adventurer and find the ideal boat to take you on your next Vancouver Island swimming adventure at Van Isle Marina. Based in Sidney, BC we are ideally placed for a tour of the top Vancouver Island swimming holes. 

Our Yacht sales team will be glad to help you find the best boat for your needs and provide some tips for local boating trips too. Contact us today for more information about yachts currently for sale.

Boat camping around vancouver island - how to camp by boat

Boat Camping Around Vancouver Island

Where and How to Camp by Boat

Camping by boat might not be what comes to mind when you think about heading into the great outdoors. Usually, it involves planning when and where you want to go before packing everything into your car, not your boat. But, for boat owners, camping can take on a whole new dimension. There are two ways to go camping by boat:

  • By Yacht. With a yacht, your opportunities for camping by boat are virtually endless. After all, you can cook and sleep in your boat and take a dinghy or kayak out for exploring. 
  • By Canoe. Launching from a boat ramp and paddling your canoe through one of our many lakes and rivers can certainly be a way that you can go camping by boat. Everything you take must be able to fit into your canoe, however, so pack smart! 

Check the Weather Before Going Boat Camping

Inland boat campers may get a little soggy in poor weather, but those going camping by boat can face much more extreme weather. Check the forecast for the places you intend to visit, but make sure you check the marine weather too. This type of forecast gives you valuable information concerning wind speed, wave height, precipitation, storm watches, air temperatures, and more. Learning how to understand a marine weather forecast will help you plan a safe trip. 

Staying Safe

Staying safe while boat camping

Camping by boat doesn’t just involve loading up and leaving. There are three critical things to consider when you are getting ready to go out on a boat:

Take the time to ensure that your boat is safe and that you and your guests understand how to enjoy camping by boat safely. Transport Canada requires – by law – that the following items be present:

  • One correctly fitted Personal Flotation Device/ Lifejacket for every passenger
  • One buoyant heaving line at least 15m in length
  • A manual propelling device or anchor with at least 15m of rope
  • A selection of visual signalling devices
  • A sound signalling device
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A bailing device or hand pump

If you are canoe camping, safety measures are a little more straightforward. Make sure you have the above items and that everybody knows what to do in an emergency. If you have a yacht, you will also need to think about a few extra things:

  • Are your fuel and oil levels good?
  • Are all the onboard batteries charged?
  • Are all the lights working?
  • Is the radio working?
  • Do your guests know what to do if you are incapacitated?

Ready, Set, Let’s Go Boat Camping!

As with any trip, camping by boat requires a few last-minute preparations so that everything is well-planned and organized. The most basic preparations involve making sure you have enough clothing, bedding, food, water and first aid to cover the entire trip. In addition, you will need to make sure all your essential documents – such as licences and ID – are easily accessible. Finally, you will also need to consider the weather forecast for the entire span of your intended trip to determine potential safety issues.

If you are heading out on a yacht, there are a few things to prepare before you leave:

  • Put your essential papers in a safe, accessible place
  • Check your onboard machinery
  • Check that your safety devices are not expired 
  • Have all the maps and charts you will need for the trip 
  • Calibrate your compass
  • Check your anchor and ropes
  • Check your engine
  • Check for damage, including the electrical and sanitation systems
  • Make sure someone you trust knows where you are going and when you expect to be back

The Top 3 Spots to Boat Camp Around Vancouver Island

Buttle Lake, Strathcona Park

buttle lake, strathcona parkAwe-inspiring Strathcona Park is almost at the center of Vancouver Island. It extends from midway between Parksville and Courtenay to just northwest of Campbell River. It is the oldest provincial park in British Columbia, having been incorporated in 1911. While you get to the Buttle Lake, Karst Creek and Ralph River campgrounds and boat ramps by vehicle, there are also campsites on the lake that are boat access only. Over 23 kilometres in length, Buttle Lake features these popular camping spots:

  • Rainbow Island
  • Mt Titus Marine Campsite
  • Wolf River
  • Phillips Creek

All campsites have pit toilets and several pads for tents. Along with fantastic boating opportunities for kayaks, canoes, and motorboats, Strathcona Park boasts some of the most scenic hiking trails on all of Vancouver Island. You can also enjoy rock climbing, fishing, swimming, waterskiing and abundant wildlife watching.

Broken Group Islands

Located between Ucluelet and Bamfield on Vancouver Island’s west coast, you will find Barkley Sound, home to the lush forests of the Broken Group Islands. While visitors are encouraged to explore and go camping by boat to their heart’s content, onshore camping can only be done at these designated areas:

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

Access to the Broken Group Islands is boat-only, but there is plenty to see and do onshore and offshore. You can explore tidal pools or take a leisurely paddle through the emerald-green waters that surround the islands. Be on the lookout for eagles, bears, whales, sea otters, and so much more!

Each designated camping area features solar composting toilets, but visitors must bring in their own water and take out any refuse and protect the local ecosystem. 

Rugged Point Marine Provincial Park

Rugged point marine provincial park

Located ¾ up the west coast of Vancouver Island, this boat-access-only park sports one of the most stunningly beautiful stretches of coastline on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Its protected beaches are quiet and serene, contrasting sharply with the wind-swept waves of the Pacific.

Rugged Point Marine Provincial Park is a haven for explorers and boat enthusiasts, but not many know that you can camp onshore there. The designated camping area is small, featuring only four tent platforms, but you are allowed to pitch your tent on the beaches if you wish.

Alternatively, you can spend your nights offshore and stretch your legs in the day-use area. There you will find a sheltered picnic area, a pit toilet and a food cache.

Rugged Point Marine Provincial is popular for canoeing and kayaking, but you can also fish, windsurf and see wildlife.


Do we have you thinking about going camping by boat? Our experienced crew will help set you on the right path. Contact Van Isle Marina today!

A Guide to the Best Boats for Your Summer Water Sports

Best Boat For Water Sports

A Guide to the Best Boats For Your Summer Water Sports

What’s the best boat for water sports? Let’s find out! 

As summer heats up, there are plenty of ways to cool down in the water including lots of fun water sports.

Spending your summer by the lake or the ocean means lots of opportunities to enjoy exciting and relaxing water sports. Whether you use your boat to simply carry yourself, your friends and your water sports equipment to a suitable anchor point, or if the boat is part of the water activities, there are lots of options.

But what type of boat best suits your lifestyle and the water sports you want to enjoy? While the options are endless when it comes to water sports, some boats and yachts are better suited to certain water-based activities.

Before you head out for a water adventure check out this guide to water sports and the best boats to do them with.

Power Boats are Perfect for Surface Water Sports

Power boats are perfect for surface water sports

Water sports such as water skiing, knee boarding and wake surfing all fall under the surface water sport family and are easily enjoyable with the right boat. Feeling extra adventurous? Kitesurfing is also in this category, but you should seek the guidance of a professional if you’re new to this activity.

With surface water sports comes a need for speed, and the ability to turn quickly which is why power boats are ideal.

Suitable boats for these kinds of water activities include:

  • Jet Boat: In terms of speed, the jet boat is a great deal of fun. They’re easy to manoeuvre and are very small. They’re also good in shallower waters. 
  • Ski and Wakeboard Boat: If tubing is your water sport preference, this is the type of boat you need. A wakeboard boat produces higher waves behind it. Seasoned water skiers or wakeboarders would benefit from this type of boat as well. 

 Check out these additional powerboat classifications for more inspiration.

Best Boats for Cruising, Sailing and Boat Trips

best boats for cruising sailing and boat tripsRelaxation, sightseeing cruises, and celebrations go hand in hand with boats, especially if you prefer more sedate water-based activities.

Dock or anchor your yacht to enjoy swimming or snorkelling in shallower water. Or stay on board and enjoy a cool drink while tanning on your deck.

Here are the best boats for cruising, sailing and boat trips:

  • Yacht: Modern yachts are loaded with accessories to help you host a lunch, take a little trip or just enjoy the wind in your hair when you head out for a spin. Yachts are smart, sporty and dressed to impress. 
  • Trawler Boat: The perfect boat for cruising, a trawler boat is excellent to take longer trips. Venture out to discover different islands and areas and fill your summer with exciting destinations.

Check out these great reviews by Canadian Yachting, covering boats that are spacious and versatile for cruising and more. 

Fishing – The Ultimate Water Sport?

Fishing - the ultimate water sportFishing is a great summertime activity to indulge in. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, fishing is refreshing, peaceful and a lot of fun. Take these boats for a spin during your next fishing trip and you’ll be sure to reel in the catch of the day with their swift, unalarming manoeuvres. 

  • Pursuit Console Boat: A traditional fishing style boat that provides shelter and weather protection.
  • Convertible Fishing Boat: A large boat that is best suited for both offshore fishing and distance cruising. If you’re looking for a boat with a large cabin, this one’s for you.
  • Cuddy Cabin Boat: These small boats are great to fish with. They have a smaller overhead which can be used for weather protection. They also come with a walk-around or accessible bow, which can be useful for offshore fishing.

Paddling is People Powered Water Sports

paddling is people powered water sportsNon-motorized water sports are trendy, peaceful, and enable you to enjoy relaxed activity in calmer waters. Paddle-powered water sports include stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoeing. Stand up paddle boards have been called the must-have boating accessory, while kayaking and canoeing are classic water sports loved by many. With water sports such as these, you have a different range of options in terms of boat choice, but if you want to transport your equipment to different locations on board, look for larger boats with more deck space:

  • Deck Boat: This has lots of space which makes it ideal for hauling water sports equipment. They are also great for swimming, so try an adventurous new water sport like snorkelling. 
  • Bowrider: Seats 8 or more people and is a good boat for beginners. They’re also great for shallow waters and fishing, as well as water sports.

Versatile Boats for All Fun Water Sports

If you are interested in the faster, motor-powered water sports, you can’t go wrong with investing in a power boat which has great versatility for many types of fun water activities.

Here’s Boat Safe’s guide on what to look for when buying a great power boat.

If you’re looking for a boat that can do it all, consider a Pursuit Boat. As Vancouver Island’s exclusive Pursuit dealer, Van Isle Marina can help you find the perfect model. 

Sporty, offshore, dual console, center console and spacious, pursuit boats have it all. They are the perfect balance between entertaining and interactive for whatever type of water sport or summer water activity you’re looking for. If you’re looking for the best boats for water sports, Pursuit boats are a great choice.

Go Downsize endorses the quality of Pursuit Boats, showing their durability and top-notch build when it comes to value for your money. They are one of the best boats you can invest in.

Try Out Some New Water Sports This Summer on a New Boat from Van Isle Marina

Whether you are looking for your first boat, or if you’re in the market for a new one, the right vessel is key to power your aquatic adventures.

Let our knowledgeable yacht sales team at Van Isle Marina find you the ideal boat to carry you, your friends and your water activity equipment. Contact us if you’re looking for the best yacht for water sports.

Top beaches of vancouver island accessible by boat

Top Vancouver Island Beaches Accessible by Boat

The Best Boat Accessible Beaches to Explore on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

For those who are lucky to live or vacation here, we know that Vancouver Island beaches rank easily among the best in the world. 

At over 450km from the northern tip to the south, and surrounded by well over 220 smaller islands, Vancouver Island has a bit of everything for those seeking a quality beach-going experience. 

To help you plan your next big boating and beach trip, we’ve made a list of some of the best boat-accessible beaches on Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands. Whatever your preferred beach activities, there is something for everyone.

Explore the Tropical White Sands at Grant Bay

explore the tropical white sands at grant bay

On the northwest coast of Vancouver Island lies a white sand beach that could easily rival the best that Jamaica has to offer. 

Grant Bay is a haven for people who don’t mind going the extra mile to find a quiet, secluded bit of paradise fit for explorers, swimmers, sunbathers and water sports enthusiasts alike. The expansive beach is nestled among rocky shores, making for a setting that is as stunning to look at as the waters are inviting.

Although this beautiful beach can be accessed via logging roads and an easy 5 to 10-minute hike, getting there by water is much nicer.  

To get to Grant Bay by yacht, you can follow the west coast north from Tofino and moor at Winter Harbour. From there, a pleasant day trip by canoe or kayak will take you directly to the beach. For a more adventurous trip, launch at Port Hardy and sail west around Cape Scott on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Popular Miracle Beach Has Room for Everyone

Popular miracle beach has room for everyone

Miracle Beach, located halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island, is a popular vacation spot for both locals and visitors. Like many of the beaches on Vancouver Island, Miracle Beach can be accessed by road, by canoe or kayak, or you can sail up the east coast and anchor your larger boat offshore.

While the pebble beach itself is a popular spot, there is so much available space that you won’t be clamoring for room no matter what you choose to do. 

Whether you choose to go swimming or stand-up paddling, you’ll find the water is nice and calm in the summer months.

Relax at UNESCO Hot Springs Cove

While it’s not technically a beach, Hot Springs Cove offers an inviting and memorable experience that puts it easily shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of the Vancouver Island beaches on this list. 

Located in picturesque Maquinna Provincial Park, northwest of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Hot Springs Cove is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It features natural geothermal springs, where you can soak in luxuriously warm waters against a backdrop of stunning scenery.

The best way to access Hot Springs Cove by yacht is to launch from Tofino. Once you get there, simply put down the anchor and enjoy a beautiful boardwalk path to the springs.

Bird and Sea Life Watching in Abundance at Sandy Island Marine Park

bird and sea life watching in abundance at sandy island marine park

Before it became a park in 1966, Sandy Island Marine Park was used by the Canadian military for exercises. These days, Sandy Island Marine Park is a small but beautiful island park that is located 6 miles off the northern tip of Denman Island. It is accessible by boat during high tide, but avid sea floor explorers can walk to it along an exposed sandbar during low tide. 

Sandy Island offers ideal conditions for coastal birdwatching and an abundance of other activities, like swimming, fishing, canoeing, hiking trails and hunting for waterfowl (in season and with licenses and tags). 

While making your way to the island by yacht, you may be lucky to see loons, seals and even dolphins! 

As one of British Columbia’s many beautiful provincial parks, Sandy Island Marine Park is equipped with all the basic amenities. The star attraction, however, is a lovely sand beach for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking. 

Dionisio Point Provincial Park is Only Accessible by Boat

Dionisio point provincial park is only accessible by boat

Located on the northern tip of Galiano Island, Dionisio Point Provincial Park offers rocky shores, beautiful sand beaches and stunning views. This secluded beach is only accessible by boat meaning there is always plenty of space for sunbathers, frisbee throwers and picnickers. 

Both Galiano Island and Dionisio Point are named for the Spanish explorer Captain Dionisio Alcala Galiano, who, in 1792, discovered the Gulf Islands. The park began its existence as a summer camping area for commercial fishermen coming from Vancouver Island and has since become one of the area’s hidden gems. 

As a Provincial Park, Dionisio Point is equipped with pit toilets and picnic tables, making your visit there that much more comfortable.

Wildlife is abundant, both on and offshore. While visiting, you might see black tailed deer, bald eagles, raccoons, loons, grebes, mergansers and much more. On your way to Dionisio Point, you may even come across orcas, dolphins or seals.

To access Dionisio Point Provincial Park, sail up the east coast or launch anywhere between Nanaimo or Duncan for a shorter trip. Mooring is by offshore anchor.

Surprising and Sandy Savary Island

Savary Island, situated in the middle of the Strait of Georgia, is essentially one big exposed sandbar. The island is surrounded with warm sandy beaches. The shallows and gradual slope of the sandbar around the island mean the beautiful turquoise water warms up nicely. 

Launch from Courtenay or Campbell River for an interesting sail through the Gulf Islands to this unusual sandy spot.

Enjoy Beachcombing at Blackberry Point

Blackberry Point, on Valdes Island, is widely considered to be one of the brightest gems in the Gulf Islands. With 300+ feet of shell and pebble beach, there is plenty of space for sunbathing and games. 

Explorers will have fun searching the beaches for interesting rocks and shells. If you’re arriving in a larger yacht, you’ll need to anchor offshore and paddle in. The easiest and most direct point of launch is from Blue Heron Park in Nanaimo, since it is almost directly across the water. 

Explore Vancouver Island Beaches in a New Yacht from Van Isle Marina

Any of the Vancouver Island beaches listed here will make a memorable day trip for you and your loved ones. We at Van Isle Marina suggest picking your favourite and planning to spend at least a day to thoroughly soak up the beauty and get the best experience possible.

If you’re looking for a new, or new to you, yacht for exploring Vancouver Island’s many beaches, check out our new and used boat listings. Contact our yacht sales team today, who will be pleased to get you set up for future beach adventures.

xmas dinner aboard your boat

Seafood Ideas for Christmas Dinner

At Home or on the Boat, Enjoy a Seafood Feast this Holiday Season

Here on the west coast of BC, we have a healthy appreciation for all things seafood. Dungeness crab, spot prawns, halibut… we’ve got it all and so many of us just love a great meal of locally sourced seafood. 

Because shellfish and fish of all varieties can be used to create some incredible dishes, why not turn the ham and turkey tradition on its head this Christmas season and create some very special seafood dishes instead? 

We’ve collected a variety of great recipes and narrowed them down to appetizers/sides and main courses. We even have a couple of recipes that can be easily prepared on your marine BBQ while you’re celebrating on your boat.

Add these to your usual holiday repertoire or completely revamp your typical Christmas feast. Whether you want to lighten up your usual plate or prefer to indulge in a decadent meal, we’ve got something for everyone. Spending Christmas on board your yacht? Here are some other ideas to help make the season merry as you cruise the coast.

Christmas Dinner Seafood Appetizers and Side Dishes


Crab Brie Cheese Ball recipe

Crab Brie Cheese Ball 

Dressed to impress, this phyllo-wrapped baked brie recipe from Taste of Home is a beautiful blend of rich melted brie and succulent crab. For best results, use fresh crab meat. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and baked when you like.


  • 6 ounces of crab meat
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 16 sheets pre-frozen phyllo dough (14” x 9” works best)
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted (if using plain, add a dash of salt to flavour)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Crackers and crudites for dipping


  1. In a bowl, combine the crabmeat, red pepper, green onion, garlic powder and black pepper. Form it into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on the work surface. Tip – Keep the rest of the phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap and a damp bar cloth to keep it fresh as you work. Gently brush the phyllo dough with the melted butter. As you add the layers, brush each one with the butter.
  2. Set the cheese in the centre of the stack of phyllo dough and top it with the crab mixture. Here’s where your gift-wrapping skills come in handy: Bring the corners of the dough around the brie and the crab filling. Flip the whole thing over and place it in a pre-greased baking pan or pie plate. Mix the egg and water together and brush over the dough.
  3. Bake at 375˚C until the dough turns a nice golden brown, or about 25 minutes. 

Shrimp and Sweet Potato kabobs recipe

Prawn and Sweet Potato Kabobs

We chose this simple recipe because sweet potatoes are such a holiday food staple and prawns are always a favourite. Together, they create a crowd-pleasing appetizer or side dish that can be easily grilled right on the boat. The original recipe calls for shrimp, but we think this is a perfect opportunity for fresh-caught BC Spot Prawns. 


  • 2 med. sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp plus ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder, divided (substitute paprika if you don’t want any spice)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 12 raw Spot Prawns, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 12 soaked wooden skewers


  1. Peel and cut potatoes into 1” cubes, Toss with oil, rosemary and ½ tsp chili powder/paprika. BBQ or roast for 20-25 mins until tender in a greased 15”x”10” baking pan or cast-iron frying pan.
  2. In a small bowl, blend the lemon juice, oil and chili powder/paprika with a whisk. Set aside 2 Tbsp of the marinade for basting on the grill. Add shrimp to the marinade, cover and refrigerate 20 mins.
  3. Thread sweet potato and shrimp onto wooden skewers and brush with reserved marinade. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill covered over medium heat until shrimp turn light pink.

Christmas Dinner Seafood Main Dishes

Grilled lobster tail recipe

Grilled Lobster Tails with Garlic-Parsley Butter

We don’t have lobster on Vancouver Island, but it does tend to be the ultimate seafood for celebrations and special occasions. If you prefer, you can always use Dungeness crab or King Crab legs instead, or a mix of crab and lobster for a truly special meal. Pair these with the shrimp and sweet potato kabobs and char broiled asparagus with citrus bagna cauda.


  • 8 Tbsp unsalted, softened butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 live lobster (1- ½ lb per person)
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For full directions and tips on cooking crab and lobster, see the recipe at Saveur.com

Crispy Gnocchi and Butter Clams

The original recipe from Epicurious calls for littleneck clams, but you can improvise with local butter clams. Always harvest from a red-tide free zone and when in doubt, purchase your butter clams from a reputable source. This recipe requires making your own gnocchi, but if you prefer you can purchase premade gnocchi from your local deli or grocery store. Making the gnocchi is like making pasta, but with riced russet potatoes instead of flour and eggs. Olive oil, garlic, lemon and fresh chives are all you’ll need to season this Italian dish. See all ingredients and full recipe here.

Grilled halibut with tomatoes and hearts of palm recipe

Grilled Halibut with Fresh Tomatoes and Hearts of Palm

Fresh grilled Halibut with tender hearts of palm is a light alternative to gravy and starch-heavy meals. Paired with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes, it can easily be elevated to feast status. Made with a list of simple ingredients like olive oil, heirloom tomatoes, basil and hearts of palm, this colourful, cheerful dish can also be made with other meaty fish such as albacore or swordfish. Visit Epicurious for the full recipe.


Fresh-Caught local seafood is a great way to kick up your Christmas traditions and there’s no better way to get it than on your own boat. Considering an upgrade this year? At Van Isle Marina, we’re proud to be able to offer the full collection of Pursuit Boats. Award-winning lineup of Pursuit Boats are packed with performance features and made entirely in the USA. Choose from offshore, dual console, center console and sport collections to perfectly suit your boating, fishing and adventuring wish list. Design your Pursuit boat and then contact a qualified Van Isle Marina Broker for more information.

Canada & United States Border Opens

August 9th, 2021

Welcome back neighbors, friends, family, & boaters! We are excited to announce the border will reopen to U.S. citizens & U.S. residents on August 9th.

Starting August 9th  — fully vaccinated U.S. citizens & permanent residents living in the U.S. will be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine for two weeks.

Canadian officials also announced today that as of Aug. 9,  children under 12 will be exempt from the quarantine requirement after entering Canada if they follow public health measures.

U.S. travelers entering Canada will require a pre-entry negative Covid-19 test result and will need to present proof of one of the vaccines authorized for use in Canada. That means two doses of either the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca products, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least 14 days before arriving.

All U.S. travelers must use the government’s ArriveCAN portal to submit their information. If they meet the government’s criteria, they will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

We look forward to welcoming you and accommodating your late-summer boating adventures. Please contact our marina office if you have any questions or wish to request marina reservations.

On behalf of all the Crew at Van Isle Marina, welcome back and we look forward to seeing you on the docks.



Coastal Biking Trails on Vancouver Island

The Best Biking Trails Around Coastal Vancouver Island

Cycling Trails Around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands – Our Top 5 Picks

On Vancouver Island, outdoor enthusiasts are typically within a few kilometres of the coast at any given time. Views of the Pacific Ocean and Coastal Mountains frame many of our favourite parks and hiking trails. If you’re a biking enthusiast, boating to some of the best coastal biking trails on Vancouver Island is an excellent way to experience a complete land and sea adventure, while getting fit and having fun.

The Gulf Islands often have higher elevations and are an ideal destination for a challenging coastal bike ride. Meanwhile, cities like Victoria feature a smooth, even waterfront route for those in the mood for a more meandering or family-friendly ride.

Below are just a few of our favourite destinations for cyclists around the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

1. Biking Galiano IslandBiking Galiano Island, British Columbia

A 42 km return trip from Montague Harbour to Dionisio Park (also known as Coon Bay) and back, the biking on Galiano Island is hilly and requires a bit more stamina. Roads are narrow and there are no shoulders, but there are so many incredible views and parks to see that it’s worth the effort. If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking or mountain biking to the top of Mount Galiano. If you’re looking for a laid-back cycle, you can stop at any one of the parks on the island before retiring to your boat or to the lovely Galiano Inn and Spa for a bit of pampering.

Biking Lasqueti Island, BC

2. Biking Lasqueti Island

Lasqueti residents are avid bikers and the island has one of the most well-organized biking communities around. There are no cars on the Lasqueti Ferry, so the gravel roads are relatively quiet and popular with bikers. Only 68-square km with no hydroelectric power, Lasqueti is an island where you can really escape, riding the 15 km stretch from the ferry terminal to Squitty Bay Provincial Park.

If you prefer, you can moor at the narrow coves of Squitty Bay and ride into town instead. At 30 km total, you’ll be ready for a swim in the warm waters of Squitty Bay by the end of your journey. Later on, you can boat over to nearby Jedediah Island to spend the night near its white sand beaches. Because Jedediah is only accessible by boat, it’s a very serene space to set anchor.

3. Biking the Seaside Touring Route, VictoriaTouring Victoria BC on bike

Victoria is the cycling capital of Canada and is very bike-friendly. At any given time, you’ll see groups of bikers making their way through the downtown streets, around parks and cruising along the many designated bike lanes. One popular route is the Seaside Touring Route. At a total of 39 km, this is an easy trail network with plenty of entry and exit points. Being so bike-friendly means that Victoria has plenty of secure lock up spaces for your bike, to allow for sightseeing as well.

The route begins in James Bay, North America’s oldest residential neighbourhood. With a rich history and plenty of stunning views, it’s a fantastic way to start a long afternoon of cycling. Ride along the Ogden Point Breakwater, continue along to Dallas Road, where you can stop in at Beacon Hill Park to rest in the shade of the gardens with a snack. From there, keep cycling northeast through Oak Bay or Cadboro Bay. To stay on the loop, go north to connect to the Galloping Goose Trail, which will lead back to the centre of town. 

4. Biking Salt Spring Island

The largest of the Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is an ideal spot to moor your boat and get out on your bike. With longer loops (35 km and 50 km) on relatively flat terrain, Salt Spring Island trails are excellent for exploring everything the Island has to offer. From wineries to artisan shops, enjoying the Island’s coastal biking trails is an enjoyable day trip. If you’re staying for one day, we recommend choosing just one of the loops, rather than trying to do both and missing out on all the art galleries and picnic spots scattered around. Salt Spring Island is also home to some amazing artisan cheese, so be sure to stop off at Saltspring Island Cheese or Moonstruck Organic Cheese.

Starting at the Long Harbour Ferry Terminal you can follow the Northern Route, which follows the northern tip of the island after some initial short and steep hills through forests of Arbutus and Douglas Fir trees. Or, you can choose the 50 km route which begins at the Ganges Ferry Terminal. Around 7 km from Ganges is a gorgeous white clamshell beach, which is ideal for a water break and a bit of a stretch before you continue along the route. Following Beaver Point Road, you can choose to head back to Ganges or continue on to Fulford Harbour. Note: The roads on Salt Spring Island can be quite busy at peak season, so it’s best to yield to ferry traffic in Ganges and Fulford Harbour.

Biking Yellow Point Road

5. Biking Yellow Point Road

South of Nanaimo, the Cedar and Yellowpoint areas offer a diverse bike ride filled with country and ocean views. Like the Gulf Islands, the area also abounds with local artisans, farms, cafes, pubs, orchards and more. Running 30 km, your route begins at CoCo Café on Cedar Road. Fuel up with a locally made breakfast and specialty coffee at this unique café before you hit the road. Cedar has narrow shoulders and some hilly areas, so always cycle with caution. Along the way, you can stop off at many different parks and beaches. Due to the popularity of biking in the area, the Yellowpoint Ecological Society is proposing a designated trail for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.  

These are just a handful of the many beautiful cycling trails and pathways around Vancouver Island. With a mix of busier, tourist driven towns and quiet, hidden gems. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll find a new place to explore on your bike wherever you decide to anchor. Challenge yourself or just enjoy a slow ride surrounded by wildlife. Whatever you choose, your boat can lead you to Vancouver Island’s greatest cycling trails on the coast.

Planning your summer adventures? Consider upgrading your boat to get the most out of every minute of your trips. At Van Isle Marina, we offer a wide variety of new luxury Pursuit boats as well as pre-loved yachts and cruisers. Whether you’re looking for a yacht big enough for the whole family or for a leisurely escape for two, our team at Van Isle Marina looks forward to helping you find the perfect boat. Contact us via phone or web form to get started or come see us in sunny Sidney, BC today.

Boating in Barkley Sound

Boating in Barkley Sound

Cruising, Fishing and Anchorages in The Barkley Sound

For any boater who is also into fishing, kayaking and exploring, Barkley Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island is a must-see.

Barkley Sound is an 800 square km area between Bamfield and Ucluelet, including the entrance to the Alberni inlet. Set within the Pacific Rim National Park area, it’s a popular tourist destination thanks to its top-class fishing opportunities, hundreds of islands to explore and friendly, small communities to visit. 

Boaters can cruise the area, exploring islands, inlets and nooks, diving or fishing for salmon and halibut.  

To access the Barkley Sound area, the best options for putting in are Ucluelet, Bamfield Inlet or even Port Alberni. Keep in mind that setting off from Port Alberni is a much longer route, requiring a 60km sail down the Alberni Inlet to reach the Barkley Sound. 

There are numerous options for moorage throughout the Barkley Sound, although many boaters prefer the freedom of anchoring up amongst the islands and exploring from there by dinghy or kayak.

Things To Do In Barkley Sound 

Explore the Broken Group IslandsBroken Group Islands

The Broken Group Islands, situated to the southeast of Ucluelet, is made of numerous small islands, channels and inlets which are just begging to be explored. Very popular with kayakers who participate in multi-day paddles in the area, the waters can definitely get busy in the summer. 

The best way to explore the Broken Group Islands is to anchor up and take a dinghy or kayak around and between the islands where you can investigate coves. You can also pull up onto one of many sandy beaches for a secluded picnic.

The bay at Turtle Island provides sheltered water to anchor up before settling down to watch a spectacular sunset.

Effingham Bay, on Effingham Island, one of the largest islands in the Broken Group, is considered to have the best big boat anchorage in the area. The southeast corner of the bay is well protected, except during periods of strong westerly winds. Effingham is an interesting island to explore, with beaches, remains of a village and a sea cave on the island’s east side.

Lucky Creek, Vancouver Island

Find the waterfall at Lucky Creek

Lucky Creek is a 3km long river with a waterfall at its endpoint. Located east of Refuge Island, Lucky Creek is tidal and can be impassible at low tide, so make sure you check the tide times before heading upriver in your dinghy. When you reach the end of the creek, a short climb over some rocks reveals the waterfall and bathing pools, if you are brave enough to face the cool water.

Watch Marine Wildlife

Port Alberni Wildlife - whale watching

Marine wildlife is abundant in the Barkley Sound. The ocean itself teems with orcas, humpback whales, the imperial eagle porpoises, sea lions, seals and sea otters, many of which you’ll encounter while cruising the waters around the islands.

On the coast, you may see black bears roaming the shoreline depending on the time of year, and don’t forget to look up to sight the majestic bald eagles, which are as attracted by the fish in the area as humans are.

If you are lucky enough to spot a whale while sailing around Vancouver Island, remember to follow the regulations regarding safe marine mammal viewing.

Barkley Sound Lodge, Vancouver Island

Fishing in Barkley Sound

Barkley Sound is a fishing lover’s dream. Year-round, salmon, halibut and lingcod fishing draws anglers from far and wide to come and make their big catch of the day. There are a number of fishing charters and lodges in the area that can guide you to the prime fishing grounds and even prepare your catch afterwards.

Moorage Sites in Barkley Sound

If anchoring up around one of the many islands in Barkley sound isn’t for you, or you are looking for some other services where you moor, consider some of these options:

  • Island West Resort in Ucluelet offers short term moorage options as well as fishing charters and has a pub onsite.
  • Mills Landing Cottages and Charters in Bamfield offersMills Landing, Vancouver Island more than just moorage. For those interested in fishing, Mills Landing can supply everything you need from bait to a cleaning station and their guides can even point you to the best fishing spots. Wildlife viewing tours are also available here if you want to take a break from sailing for a day.
  • Barkley Sound Lodge located in a secluded inlet in the centre of the Sound, offers a chance to anchor in true wilderness, yet still experience a modern and elegant resort. Enjoy a night off the water with one of their packages including lodge accommodation, fishing excursions and meals.
  • Poet Nook Marina which is situated north east of Bamfield, near the Alberni Inlet entrance, is a 140 vessel, state of the art marina, which makes a great base for exploring the sound.

Explore Barkley Sound in a Brand New Boat From Van Isle Marina

Barkley Sound is just one of many incredible places to explore and enjoy nature at its finest. Looking for the perfect boat to make your adventure travel dreams come true? Van Isle Marina is the exclusive dealer in western Canada for world-class Pursuit Boats. Something different in mind? Our sales brokers will work closely with you to understand your specific needs and budget and find you the perfect new or used boat. Take a peek at some of the current sales listings and contact us to set up a viewing appointment today.

If you’re trading up, you can keep it simple by relying on Van Isle Marina’s team to market your boat for sale. National and International buyers are attracted to our unparalleled marina, which offers short and long moorage options in our 500 berths near sunny Sidney, BC.

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