British Columbia (or BC) is a stunning Canadian province filled with much of Canada's most spectacular natural scenery. It is home to many of Canada's most iconic national parks and its stunning Rockie Mountaineer. British Columbia also boasts a picturesque shoreline dominated by islands, virgin forests, and bears. Some parts of the coastline and quite warm - being a sub-Mediterranean climate. One of the stunning islands in this area is Pender Island. Some of these islands can be accessed directly from the United States with ferries.


Pender Island is home to a small population of about 2,250 permanent residents plus a large seasonal population. It is defined by rolling forested hills, lakes, small mountains, open farmland, and most importantly many coves and beaches to explore. It actually offers the most public beach access points of any of the islands in the Southern Gulf. There are 20 clearly marked public beach accesses on the island and is perfect for a family vacation or those looking for a chill retreat.

  • Location: In The Southern Gulf Islands Between Vancouver and Victoria
  • Ferry: 2 Hour Ferry From Vancouver and 40 Minute Ferry From Sidney in BC

Pender Island is actually two islands, North Pender (90% of the residents live on North Pender Island) and South Pender which are separated by a narrow canal. They are connected with a one-lane bridge.

Pender Island is all about the grand outdoors and outdoor activities. Some of the activities include boating, sailing, scuba diving, fishing, camping, mountain biking, golfing (there's a 9-hole golf course, and disc golf (frisbee golf).

While summer is the most popular time to come and the water will be the most pleasant at this time, Pender Island is also a year-round holiday destination. One can have a great time here in the cooler fall and spring months of the year enjoying fewer tourists on the island in the off-peak seasons.

  • Climate: A Balmy sub-Mediterranean Climate

Related: What To Expect When Visiting Beautiful Salt Spring Island Off The Coast Of Vancouver, Canada

This is quite a rural environment with there being no real village or town center - although the Driftwood Centre serves as the business center of sorts. Here one will find the Liquor Store, pharmacy, Post Office, gas station, grocery store, baker, and other basic shops and services.

Getting There

The most common way to reach the islands is by ferry. There are a number of Canadian and American ferries to choose from with different routes.

British Columbia Ferry Corporation

  • Coho Ferry: Route From Port Angeles To Victoria
  • Victoria Clipper: Seatle To Victoria
  • Washington State Ferries
  • Note: It Is Strongly Recommended to Make Reservations On The Taswwassen - Pender Route In Peak Holiday Periods

It is also possible to reach the island by private boat or by seaplane. In the holiday season between May and September, there are Canada Customs at Bedwell Harbour for those visitors coming directly from the United States. So one can also mix visiting Pender Island with a trip to Seattle. See here for things to do in Seattle that are not the Space Needle.

Related: A Travel Guide To Vancouver: 10 Things To Know While Planning Your Trip

Accommodation & Camping

The island offers a range of accommodation to pick from, these range from lodges to inns to resorts to camping. If one wants to relax in this stunning piece of nature in comfort and style, then one can find resorts with spas, pools, and hot tubs. Some accommodation is in a secluded and tranquil setting on the coast with commanding ocean views or nestled in the forest.

For those wanting to get a more immersive experience in the beauty of nature, then there are also campgrounds. There are three basic and primitive campgrounds in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. For those interesting in more adventurous camping in the United States, see here for a list of particularly adventurous campgrounds. The campsites on Pender Island are:

Prior Centennial Campground

  • Access: Is Vehicle Accessible Via Canal Road
  • Open Season: May 15 to September 30
  • Hiking: There Is A short Walking Trail That Links To Other Local Trails Outside Of The National Park Reserve And To The Disc Golf Course
  • Number Of Campsites: 17 (They Can Fill Quickly So Reservations Are Recommended In The Summer
  • Facilities: Potable Water, Pit Toilets, Fire Pits, Firewood For Sale

Beaumont Marine Park Campsite

  • Access: Accessed Via Walk-in Trail Or Kayak

Shingle Bay Campsite

  • Access: Accessed Via Walk-in Trail Or Kayak

On Pender Island, one can just relax and soak in the stunning beauty of this unspoiled and warm region of Canada. It is a great place to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature just a short ferry ride from the major Canadian cities of Victoria and Vancouver.

Next: Summer Is The Best Time To Visit British Columbia, And Here's Why