Visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve will be different than previous years. Be prepared, and know what is open and closed before you go.

Explore. Learn. Connect. Park interpreters are here to share fun experiences with visitors in the park reserve. Join us for an evening program or outdoor activity during your visit to the park reserve! Programs are available to everyone, and you don't need to be staying in a campground to join in the fun.

Get ready for fun and exploration!

  • We do our best to cater to all ages! Look for the "Family Friendly" or “Adults Only” note on the schedule. 
  • Unless specified on the schedule, most of our interpretive programs are free of charge.
  • Bring enough water and snacks.
  • Dress for the weather, bring sturdy footwear and sunscreen!
  • Bring a safe clean kit (hand sanitizer and face mask) 

Please Note: In extreme temperatures and weather events, interpretive programs may be cancelled. Please refer to the website and social media channels for updated information, and changes to the schedule.


Special events and activities
Large canopy tents are up in an open field. People are gathering around a barbecue, and smoke is in the air. 

At this time all our special events and activities are on hold until further notice.

Check back for updates and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for any future interpretive program announcements.

Sidney and Sidney Spit
WSANEC member is singing and using a drum during a cultural campfire program

This summer, keep an eye out as our interpreters can be found at stationary activity tables outside the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea or with traveling displays roving around the trails, and campground.

Activity tables outside the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea 
Fridays to Mondays
July 2 to August 22, 2021
Drop-in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. 
This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the various projects happening in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Fun for everyone.

Coast Salish Campfire program at SMONEĆTEN (McDonald) campground.
Saturdays 
July 17 to August 28, 2021
7:00 p.m. (approximately one hour)
Registration starts at 6:45 p.m. at the group campfire ring – space is limited.
Join a Coast Salish storyteller and a Parks Canada Interpreter for stories of the Salish Sea. Ideal for families with children 12 and under. 

While the program is intended for campers, non-camping park visitors are also welcome. Please park at the adjacent Blue Heron Park and follow the signs to the campground. 

Dress appropriately for the weather; evenings can be cool. Campfire or propane fire pit is weather dependent.

Saturna Island
A child holds a large fish replica. His dad stands beside him and holds a smaller fish replica

Keep an eye out as our interpreters can be found at stationary activity tables or with traveling displays roving around the trails, and campgrounds this summer.

East Point Quest –  A Treasure Hunt (English and French)
Saturdays in July and August at East Point
Drop-in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

A map to follow. A set of cryptic clues to decipher. A treasure box to find. What could be better? Along the way learn how to help endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. This self-guided activity is suited for adults or families with older children. Allow one hour to complete.

Wildlife Detectives – A Family Pop-up Trail
(English and French)
Sundays in July and August at Winter Cove 
Drop-in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Has a sapsucker been here? What exactly is a sapsucker? Sharpen your Wildlife Detective skills. Follow clues that animals have left behind. Fun for families with kids of all ages. Allow forty-five minutes to complete the self-guided activity.

Our Plant Relatives – A Pop-up Trail (English and French)
Mondays in July and August at Winter Cove
Drop-in anytime between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Walk the trail to find pop-up signs with indigenous plant names and uses. Be filled with a sense of gratitude for the generosity of W̱SÁNEĆ People for sharing their knowledge. For all ages. Allow thirty minutes to complete this self-guided activity.

 
Pender Island and Mayne Island
Parks Canada interpreter is presenting an interpretive program and is holding the replica of an animal skull 

Keep an eye out as our interpreters can be found at stationary activity tables or with traveling displays roving around the trails, and campgrounds this summer.

Mayne Island

Mayne Island Farmers' Market – activity tables

Saturdays

July and August

Drop-in anytime between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the various projects happening in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Fun for everyone.

Explore on your own
Someone is holding a geocache and a second person is holding a GPS 

Geocache

Note: This program will be available again year-round starting June 1 2021(COVID permitting), except for the Sidney Island caches (which are disabled September 30 - May 15).

Geocaching is an interactive treasure hunt played with a GPS unit or smartphone. The treasure hunt will take you to places on the islands you have never been and leave you without a doubt in your mind as to why this park is one of Canada’s national treasures. The park's geocaching program is an interactive way to learn about the unique natural and cultural heritage of the national park reserve.

Geocaching loops

Gulf Islands Survivor Challenge

The Gulf Islands Survivor Challenge is an easy, family-friendly, series of GPS treasure hunts. The Survivor Challenge passport will provide you with the location for the first cache in each series. You can then follow the clues inside each cache to find your way to the next one. Each cache includes a story about the park and a challenge.

Complete three out of the four islands challenges and redeem your passport for a commemorative geo coin (while supplies last). Challenges begin at:

  • Winter Cove on Saturna Island
  • Prior Centennial Campground on Pender Island
  • SMONEĆTEN (McDonald) Campground in Sidney
  • Along the loop trail on Sidney Island

Download your Survivor Challenge passport here (PDF, 879 KB)

Top Ten Challenge

The Top Ten route is an advanced series of caches. The coordinates for each cache are provided in you Top Ten Challenge passport, the caches are listed in no particular order and it is up to you to “choose your own adventure” and create your own route to find them all. This series of caches could be comfortably completed in three days. Find all 10 geocaches and redeem your passport for a Parks Canada geocoin (while supplies last).

Caches are located on:

  • Sidney Island
  • Saturna Island
  • Pender Island

Download your Top Ten Challenge passport here (PDF, 264 KB)

Getting started
  1. Obtain all the co-ordinates for the geocaches from geocaching.com.
  2. Use either a GPS, or smartphone to find the caches (when using a smartphone, download the geocaching app).
  3. Respect the natural surroundings by staying on marked trails – all geocaches are directly accessible from trails or public areas.
  4. Do not leave anything (trade items) inside of the geocaches
  5. Only Parks Canada employees may place geocaches in the park.
Receiving your coin (while supplies last)

Once you have completed your passport, you will receive one of the limited edition Parks Canada geo coins. To receive your Parks Canada geo coin:

Now, grab your GPS and come explore the Gulf Islands!

Xplorer
 Are you between the ages of 6 and 11? Do you want to go on hikes, complete quizzes, play nature games and use your GPS to find mystery locations?Then the Xplorer program is just the right adventure for you!

Xplorer kids and their families can have fun and discover cool facts about Gulf Islands National Park Reserve by completing activities from the Xplorer Booklet.

There are 10 activities in the Xplorer booklet; kids who complete at least 5 of the activities are rewarded with a souvenir!

Where do I pick up the Xplorer Booklet?

Speak to a park interpreter or a visitor service attendant to pick up an Xplorer booklet. Parks Canada employees can also tell you about other activities and programs for kids in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

In July and August pick up your Xplorer booklet from one of the following locations:

  • Saturna Island: The Fog Alarm Building (East Point). Go to the end of Tumbo Channel road then walk out to the point. Open in July and August, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm.
  • Pender Island: The Pender Island Museum (Roesland). 2408 South Otter Bay Road. Please check their website for hours of operation.
  • Vancouver Island: The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Office. 2220 Harbour Road, Sidney. Open Monday to Friday, 8am - 4pm.
  • Vancouver Island: The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, 9811 Seaport Place, Sidney. Please check their website for hours of operation.

 

What happens after I’ve completed 5 activities in my Xplorer Booklet?

Kids and their families can head to one of the following locations to receive an Xplorer certificate and souvenir (July and August only):

  • Saturna Island: The Fog Alarm Building (East Point). Go to the end of Tumbo Channel road then walk out to the point. Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm.
  • Pender Island: The Pender Island Museum (Roesland). 2408 South Otter Bay Road. Please check their website for hours of operation.
  • Vancouver Island:The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, 9811 Seaport Place, Sidney. Please check their website for hours of operation.
Want to keep Xploring?

Why stop here! Now that you have become an official Parks Canada Xplorer, there are many more adventures that await you at other Parks Canada locations.

Club Parka

Parka the beaver is waving at us. There is a forest and a tent in the background

Hello! My name is Parka. Ready to explore with me?

Parka encourages kids to explore the world around them, whether on a hike along wilderness trails or a step back in history at a site or fort. Spending time in nature has many benefits for young children – including increased fitness levels, powers of concentration, creativity, sociability and empathy – and visits to historic sites cultivate an appreciation for our country’s past and of those who have come before us.

Discover activities with Parka!