The Getaway
Mayne Island: So Close and Yet So Blessedly Far From It All

The Southern Gulf Islands are a true gift to Vancouverites and folks from Victoria. You can get to Mayne Island from either place in the length of time it takes to watch a movie, and yet the big cities and small rural villages feel like they're worlds apart. In summer, swap your urban environment for admiring migrating purple martins and Rufous hummingbirds. There's a Mayne Island experience for every other season, too, as you'll soon see.

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01 Japanese Gardens

Mayne Island's Japanese Gardens began as an homage to the Japanese people who settled on the island in the first half of the 20th century, only to be forced out. For cost-related reasons, the first iteration of the gardens could not be maintained. But an early 2000s project to revive the site worked out, and today, you'll find a tranquil haven thanks to the continued efforts of donors and volunteers. Pop in for a breather and see the cherry blossoms in spring and the lovely Christmas lights during the festive season. Admission is free.

02 Mount Parke

Mount Parke's moderate loop trail offers panoramic views and a chance to encounter local wildlife amidst a mossy forest full of red alders, giant sword ferns, and Oregon grapes. In spring, pretty wildflowers such as Blue-eyed Mary dust the landscape. Viewpoints overlook the Lower Mainland, Plumper Sound, and neighboring Gulf Islands. Look up, and you may see turkey vultures, and close to sunset, the sounds of barred owls enter the symphony.

03 Bennett Bay

Bennet Bay's calm and inviting waters coax kayakers and paddleboarders to Mayne Island. Bring your car down to the beach for launching, or get in touch with Kayaking Gulf Islands for updated info about rentals. They hire out SUPS and single and double kayaks and do guided tours around the islets close by. There's a good chance you'll see otters, sea lions, and other marine cuties, and the view to Mount Baker will have you whipping out your camera to snap pics. The eastern shoreline is safer than the busy Active Pass. Advanced kayakers can make for the Belle Chain islets.

04 Beachcombing and beaches

Sometimes, all you want from a vacation is to chill out by the sea and do beachy things. Mayne Island has your back. With a temperate climate and warm waters, you can spend hours at the beaches. Campbell Bay on the island's east side is the deepest, and it's popular among sailers and swimmers alike. Every summer, an awesome music festival showcases emerging talent from the region and beyond. Piggott Bay is another well-liked swimming beach where small boats can launch. Park yourself on a driftwood bench and savor the lack of crowds. Go beachcombing to see what you can find nestled in the sand.

Sometimes, all you want from a vacation is to chill out by the sea and do beachy things. Mayne Island has your back. With a temperate climate and warm waters, you can spend hours at the beaches. Shaded Campbell Bay on the island's east side is the deepest bay, and it's popular among sailors and swimmers alike. Every summer, an awesome music festival showcases emerging talent from the region and beyond. Piggott Bay is another well-liked swimming beach where small boats can launch. Park yourself on a driftwood bench and savor the lack of crowds. Go beachcombing to see what you can find nestled in the sand.

05 Cycling and sightseeing

Part of the appeal of island life is the leisurely pace. You'll find yourself slowing down on Mayne Island, as you should. But take it one step further and hop on a bike to cover the scenic routes. You can do the whole island in a day, covering about 18.5 miles of paved roads, or stretch it out over three days. Miner's Bay, Horton Bay, and the Georgina Point Lighthouse are just some of the stops along the way. Less traffic means a safer ride, but be prepared for a few ascents. Fill up on H2O at Point Community Day Park.

06 Hiking and walking trails

Model looking out towards the ocean on a moody winter raining day

Mayne Island isn't for hardcore hiking. It's for the casual stroller who wants to be rewarded with beautiful scenery without expending too much effort. Start with the 1.8-mile forest trail near Bennett Bay and the Campbell Point peninsula. It's flat, short, and sweet. St. John Point Regional Park is a lovely conservation area for an easy hike. For steeper, more challenging hikes, try the Old Gulch and Vulture Ridge Viewpoint trails.

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07 Bird watching

Birders flock to the Active Pass Important Bird Area, where dozens of marine bird species squawk and twitter. You'll see migrant species between fall and spring and permanent residents and overwintering species during the colder months. Look out for grebes, mergansers, bald eagles, and chickadees, for example, in winter. Grab your binoculars and a bird checklist from the Mayne Island Conservancy and count how many species you encounter. To find inland birds, head for Merryman Road.

08 Sailing and boating

Sailboat in the Ocean by

The waters surrounding Mayne Island are clear and welcoming. Relaxing on a boat is the ultimate holiday flex, and in these parts, there's so much more to look forward to than simply floating. Peer below the surface of the water to see which marine creatures are keeping you company, or peer into hidden coves. You'll find public wharves at Horton Bay on the southern end of the island and Miners Bay, with additional anchorage in Dinner Cove, Campbell Bay, and Bennett Bay.

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09 Sightseeing and points of interest

Make sure to catch a sunset at either Dinner Bay or Georgina Point Heritage Park, part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Enjoy ferry watching and picnicking, and check out the lighthouse here, which dates back to 1885. Check out the Mayne Island Museum and Plumper Pass Gaol for an arresting blast from the past. You'll roam a 19th-century jail, see artifacts from the oldest wreck in the Gulf Islands, and be able to peruse a thoughtfully curated selection of local First Nations material.

10 Artists and galleries

Do animals stir you to create art? You might have something in common with Yellow Bird Art Studio's Deborah Strong. For less sentient pieces, Terrill Welch's beautiful landscape paintings and photos are available to see and purchase at the Terrill Welch Gallery. Art enthusiasts can chat with the artist about her inspiration, including Mayne Island life and travels to further flung destinations. Quasimodo Pottery's functional and decorative ocean-hued pieces are sure to add character to your interiors, and Mayne Island Clay Works trades in contemporary ceramics and water-wise garden ollas.

11 Outdoor adventures

Scuba Diver getting ready to go diving

Mayne Island has much to offer experienced scuba divers who know their way around marine traffic and changing currents. Between the Zephyr shipwreck with its remaining cargo, the Georgia Shoal, and the Enterprise and Conconi Reefs, your trip's about to get more colorful.

As for fishing, seasonal salmon are on the agenda. Avoid Rockfish Conservation Areas, and you won't inadvertently break the law, or arrange a fishing charter for your convenience.

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12 Culinary experiences

Bennett Bay Bistro is one of Mayne Island's favorite restaurants. This is a suitably romantic spot for a date night. If you're a conscious consumer, you'll be happy to know that the bistro is part of the Ocean Wise program for sustainable seafood. Sunny Mayne Bakery and Cafe sells scrumptious cronuts, and their muffins hit the spot too.

13 Wellness and relaxation

Spa and wellness setting with flowers and towels.

Aquaflora Spa at Mayne Inn can give your body the pamper session it needs after hiking, cycling, and water sports. The spa is open to all ages.

Then you have Mayne Haven, an absolute sanctuary for the ultimate wellness retreat. If you're looking for a restorative, healing experience with hydrotherapy, therapeutic bodywork, and organic food, Mayne Haven is the soft landing you've been seeking.

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14 Accommodation options

Mayne Island's accommodation options check all the boxes for different kinds of vacations. Camp at the Mayne Island

Campground and RV Park and test their famous tree shower. Or choose the comfy hotel this time around, and opt for Mayne Island Resort with its family-friendly amenities and eco-friendly policies. Blue Vista Resort is pet-friendly and provides activities for kids too. Seal Beach Cottage can host up to six guests in a secluded setting, and for a cozy cabin bed and breakfast, check out Dinner Bay Cottage with its hot tub.

15 Getting around Mayne Island

Mayne Island is so small that one of the best ways to get around it is on foot. Other green options include the awesome donation-funded Mayne Island Community Bus, or you can hitchhike using designated Car Stops where cars pull over to help with rides. Most cyclists bring their own bikes, but you can rent a bike a fair distance away from the ferry terminal. Renting an e-bike from Home Hardware will give you a leg up on the hills. FYI, Village Bay is home to the ferry terminal, and you'll find a gas station, grocery stores, and other services in the Miners Bay area.

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