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
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
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
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
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.