Anchorages in the Gulf Islands National Park

Boaters are always looking for a great place to drop the hook, whether it’s for a stroll on an uninhabited island or a peaceful place to enjoy a glass of wine and a stunning sunset.

Fortunately the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve has plenty of options when the time comes to call it quits for the day.

Russell Island is one of our favourites as the island has interesting historical features as well as long trails and reasonably warm swimming. The anchorage surrounds the dinghy dock and has good holding although we have seen a few boats drag anchor here. If north or northwest winds are forecast pay attention, the anchorage can get very rough and somewhat unpleasant. Fortunately this is a somewhat rare occurrence during the main boating season.

Portland Island, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada.
Portland Island, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada.

Princess Bay on Portland Island is likely the most popular anchorage in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. There’s plenty of room for lots of boats and the mud bottom does a great job of keeping you in place. Really, the only big downside here is the wash from the large BC Ferries that ply the route between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. A dinghy dock is close by, the swimming is good and there are many kilometers of trails to get you off your boat. During the summer get up early for the great sunrises.

Royal Cove on the north side of Portland Island has room for a small number of boats, many of which stern tie to the shore. This area has a dinghy dock as well. North winds can be a problem and once again the ferry wash may be unpleasant but it’s hard to know as conditions change.

Sidney Spit on Sidney Island is the ultimate anchorage if conditions are good. Parks Canada provides 21 mooring buoys and if you wish to stay near land a dock is available during the peak season. Great wildlife, history, lots of trails, there’s plenty to do here and it’s easy to spend quite a few days enjoying the surroundings. This is the perfect place if you have kids with lots of sandy beaches.

Cabbage Island and Tumbo Island have spectacular views looking both to Washington State and north up the Strait of Georgia. 10 mooring buoys are available and additional anchorage for small boats can be found. Once again, beware of north winds here, we have had a few very unpleasant nights over the years.

Winter Cove is a large body of water that can accommodate many boats; at the July 1st Saturna Island Lamb BBQ there are often upwards of 200 boats at anchor! Holding tends to be good but be wary of reefs close to shore. If you have the urge to visit Cabbage Island take great care passing through Boat Passage as well. The current can be very strong and there are a  few reefs in close proximity. High tide and slack current make life a little easier. A dinghy dock provides access to shore and the beautiful coastline.

Narvaez Bay is a beautiful anchorage but subject to the southern winds that frequent the area during the boating season. There is room for a few boats to seek shelter behind a very photogenic peninsula but anchoring further out is a little riskier. Check the marine forecast.