Visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve will be different than previous years. Be prepared, and know what is open and closed before you go.
Lovely scenery, sheltered waters and convenient services make the Southern Gulf Islands an ideal boating destination. Short travel distances make it easy to experience the distinctive aspects of each of the eleven publicly accessible islands in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve! Head ashore on one of the major islands where you can browse the shops, dine on west coast fare and visit a farmer’s market, winery or heritage site. For an authentic natural experience, check out the park reserve’s many islands that are only accessible by boat!
Don’t have a vessel? Book a kayak guide or water taxi from our approved operator list.
- Islands with services:
- Pender Island
- Saturna Island
- Mayne Island
- Islands only accessible by boat (no services):
- Tumbo Island
- Cabbage Island
- James Bay (Prevost Island)
- Princess Margaret (Portland Island)
- Russell Island
- Isle de Lis (Rum Island)
- Sidney Spit (Sidney Island)
- D’Arcy Island.
Sidney Spit (Sidney Island) — 11
Beaumont (Pender Island) — 12
Reef Harbour (Cabbage Island) — 9
- Buoys operate on a first come, first served basis.
- Fees apply for all mooring buoys after 3 pm Please pay at the red self-registration vaults located on shore.
- Only one vessel per buoy is allowed, and rafting is prohibited.
- Vessel size guidelines for mooring buoys:
- Up to 15 metres (50 feet) with winds under 30 knots
- Up to 12 metres (40 feet) with winds from 30-37 knots
- Be courteous to others and slow down in moorage areas to avoid creating large wakes.
- Quiet hours: 10 pm - 8 am
Sidney Spit has the only overnight dock available in the park reserve. For the 2021 visitor season (May 1 to September 30) half of the dock is closed as part of our efforts to support physical distancing.
Dinghy dock space is free for day use areas at the following locations: Winter Cove on Saturna Island, Roesland on Pender Island, Russell Island, Royal Cove and Princess Bay on Princess Margaret Island, and Sidney Spit.
- Daily fees apply after 3 pm for all dock space.
- Quiet hours: 10 pm - 8 am
- It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places, including day use areas, beaches, and docks.
- There are no garbage facilities on Sidney Island, therefore visitors must follow leave no trace principles.
Note: Docks at Sidney Spit and Princess Bay (Princess Margaret/ Portland) are removed for the winter from October 1 to May 14.
Note: Marinas and boat charter companies are plentiful in the area. Nearby pump-out facilities are located at Port Sidney Marina, Van Isle Marina, and Tsehum Harbour Authority in Sidney and at the Saltspring Island Harbour Authority in Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island. Washington State operates numerous pump-out facilities in the adjacent San Juan Islands.
Check out our Visitor Guide to learn more about park facilities, including locations and operating dates.
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.
- Obtain marine charts. Charts are available in paper or digital format. Check the Canadian Hydrographic Service website for the location of a chart dealer near you. The following charts cover portions of this region:
3473, 3476, 3477, 3478, 3441, 3442, and 3462.
- Check the marine forecast
- Consult tide tables and currents
- Bring drinking water
- Make sure to check the Important Bulletins for closures and public safety alerts before you leave home
- Inspect your boat and safety equipment
- Monitor the weather when planning your trip and throughout the day
- Always carry a VHF marine radio
- Leave your sail plan and emergency contact information with a family member or friend
For information on equipment, licence, competency requirements and tips on how to stay safe on the water, consult the Safe Boating Guide provided by Transport Canada.
Obtain emergency contact information and learn more about Visitor Safety at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
What you need to know
- Canada Shipping Act Collision Regulations apply to pleasure craft.
- Respect closures for special preservation areas. Stay at least 100 metres from islets and other marine wildlife. Observe marine wildlife viewing guidelines.
- Be aware of the 2021 management measures to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales:
- Stay 400 metres away from killer whales when visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. It’s the law.
- Do not enter Interim Sanctuary Zones off the east coast of Saturna Island or south-west of North Pender Island.
- In effect from June 1 to November 30.
- No fishing or boating in interim sanctuary zones.
- Be Whale Wise. For more information on the best ways to help whales while on the water, please visit bewhalewise.org
- When you are in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve please call Parks Canada Emergency Dispatch (1-877-852-3100) to report any violations or incidents involving marine mammals to Park Wardens or the appropriate Parks Canada team member.
- Otherwise, please report any violations or incidents involving marine mammals (that you observed or were involved in) to Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s 24/7 Observe, Record, Report Line: 1-800-465-4336
- If you are unable to reach the Observe, Record, Report Line, you can call Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Mammal Desk at 1-833-339-1020
- Avoid dumping garbage, or discharging sewage or pollutants in the waters. For information on green boating practices, consult Protecting the Marine Environment - A Boater's Guide
- Quiet hours: 10 pm - 8 am.
- It is illegal to consume alcohol in public places, including day use areas, beaches and docks.
- Cannabis is now legal and regulated in Canada. Find out how this will affect your visit.
- Impaired boating, like impaired driving, is a criminal offence.
- Dogs must be on leash at all times and their droppings removed from the park reserve.
Leave No Trace™
Leave No Trace™ principles promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship.