Sidney Spit National Park Reserve

Sidney Spit Gulf Island National Park Reserve British Columbia aerial view

Sidney Island is part of the Parks Canada Gulf islands National Park Reserve. Sidney Spit’s sand beaches are the legacy of long-vanished glaciers. Protected by the hook spit, the 31 hectares of eelgrass in the lagoon are critical habitat for fish, invertebrates and seabirds. In summer, you’ll be greeted at the dock by the exuberant acrobatics of Purple martins - birds that almost disappeared from our region as its habitat was lost. Although the island is cloaked predominantly in Douglas-fir forest, some pockets of rare and endangered Gary oak ecosystem survive.

Birds of a Feather Zodiac can arrange a private (only your party) custom outing to Sidney Spit either for the afternoon, or as one of many stops throughout the Gulf Islands including totally deserted islands and/or populated islands.

Place yourself in the landscape as it was and still is known by the Coast Salish people. The forests, seas and spiritual places of the Gulf Islands nourish their culture today as they have for millennia. On Sidney Island, they hunted deer and ducks, harvested shellfish, gathered berries and medicines, dug camas bulbs and picked seaweed. Here too, tribes met and mingled, and potlatches were sometimes held.

logs washed up on the sandy beaches of Sidney Spit

More recently, entrepreneurs have left their footprints on the island. Track down the clues that reveal the island’s past history as a farm, brick factory and hunting preserve. Fallow deer were first introduced to the island as a game animal in the early 1900’s. A non-native species, they have overtaken the native blacktail deer population and have significantly altered the island’s ecosystems in the last century since. Parks Canada is working on restoration of the ecosystem.

docks and picnic area at Sidney Park

forest trails in Sidney Park BC

families beachcombing on the sandy beaches of Sidney Spit

Coast Salish First Nations have strong connections to Sidney Island and to the Gulf Islands as a whole. Please respect this heritage: It is illegal to collect or damage cultural artifacts or to disturb cultural sites. Coast Salish people continue to pursue traditional activities within the park, including harvesting of plants and animals. The majority of Sidney Spit is closed to visitors from mid-November until the end of February each year so that they may safely hunt deer.

Humpys, Orcas, Stellars and California Sea Lions all in one afternoon

Every day is a unique adventure out on the Salish Sea but today’s trip stood out. We launched at Pedder Bay Marina in Metchosin to place us close to Race Rocks. As the California and Stellar Sea Lion bulls were entertaining us from their perches on the rock formations we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a dozen or so of these mamoths swimming, diving and porpoising. Then the incredible happened. One of the stellars suddenly sprang out of the water not 40 feet from us with a huge salmon which it had just caught as it breached the surface. The salmon was squirming it the sea lion’s mouth. Just as quickly as the stellar had surfaced he dove again and repeated this motion 2 more times. All the while a dozen or so of his very excited mates were porpoising almost in unison as a group. In 12 years being out here on the ocean that was a first for me. This was just the begginning of our adventure. We had heard reports of 4 to 6 humpbacks in the general vicinity over the past week. As we networked with our colleagues we heard 6 transient orcas were nearby. We spent a bit of time enjoying the orcas before heading out in the direction of the shipping lanes where soon we spotted 4 humpbacks. They put on quite a show for us including some excellent tail flukes. The humpbacks were also very vocal. All this in the space of 4 hours on one of those special autumn days when the seas were calm and the sun was out.