Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada

Picnicking

Facilities and Services | Pre-trip Checklist | Safety Tips | What You Need to Know

A family eating their meal at a picnic table in Winter Cove
Picnicking at Winter Cove, Saturna Island
© Parks Canada / Christian J. Stewart

Picnics are a fun and easy way to have an outdoor adventure with your entire family.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Sidney Spit – Pick up a gourmet lunch in town and cruise by passenger ferry to the warm sandy beaches.
  • Roesland, Pender Island – After a seaside snack, stop in the museum and stroll to the viewpoint on Roe Islet.
  • East Point, Saturna Island –Whales and seals like this spot for noshing too, so keep your eyes peeled.
  • Winter Cove, Saturna Island – Dine seaside and watch the water play tricks at Boat Passage.
  • Georgina Point, Mayne Island – Savour an old-fashioned picnic (cucumber sandwiches anyone?) at Georgina Point Lighthouse, which has overlooked Active Pass since 1885.

Facilities and Services

  • Most day use areas in the park offer picnic tables for your use. View a map that shows where all picnic tables are located in the park (PDF, 4.39 MB).
  • Learn more about walking trails (PDF, 2.75 MB) located near picnic areas.
  • Sidney Spit is a popular picnic and day use destination in the summer:
    • Find out about passenger ferry schedule and fares.
    • Sidney Spit offers a group picnic shelter (advance reservations required) for up to 30 people. For more information or reservations, please call 1-877-944-1744.
    • Potable water is provided at Sidney Spit; however, this water is high in sodium content and is not recommended for people with health conditions.

Learn more about park facilities including locations and operating dates or view a map of the park (PDF, 2.75 MB).


Pre-trip Checklist

The equipment you bring on your day trip will depend on whether you are driving, hiking or paddling. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Plenty of water – Potable water at car campgrounds only
  • Garbage bags – Garbage facilities at car campgrounds only
  • Warm clothes (wool and quick dry polypropylene are good for the climate)
  • Rain gear and a waterproof tarp
  • Towels and picnic blanket
  • First aid kit
  • Sun screen, sunglasses and hat
  • Camera
  • Picnic basket or snacks
  • Pocket knife and lightweight reusable dishes and cutlery

Make sure to check the Important Bulletins for closures and public safety alerts before you leave home.


Safety Tips

When visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, you are in an area where rescue services and medical assistance may take time to reach you in case of an emergency. Ensure that you have the level of training and experience necessary to take responsibility for your safety.

Some safety tips include:

  • Keep a close eye on young children, particularly when picnicking around water, steep drops or cliffs.
  • Inspect your picnic area for potential tripping hazards and watch for loose tree branches overhead, especially after a wind storm.
  • Portable propane gas stoves and gas BBQs are allowed; fires are not.
  • Wasps and yellow jackets can be a problem if you leave food out in the open.
  • Handle food safely.

Obtain emergency contact information and learn more about Visitor Safety at Gulf Islands National Park.


What You Need to Know

  • Consumption of alcohol in public places (such as beaches and day use areas) is against the law in Canada.
  • Fires and briquettes are prohibited everywhere in the park, including beaches and below the high tide mark. Use camping cook stoves.
  • Maximum group size is 15 for all day use areas. Larger groups and anyone planning a formal event (picnic, reunion, wedding, etc) need to obtain a permit.
  • Respect closures for Special Preservation Areas when choosing your picnic spot. For example, park islets and Sidney Spit Lagoon.

CAUTION: The inner lagoon, hook spit and vegetated centre of Sidney Spit are particularly sensitive ecosystems and have been designated special preservation areas where many threatened species are protected. Access is prohibited.

  • Dogs must be on leash at all times and their droppings removed from the park.

Learn more about other National Park Regulations.

"Leave No Trace™" principles promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship. Learn more about Leave no Trace™ in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.