Touting white sand beaches and the warmest waters north of Mexico, Savary Island definitely deserves a top spot on your list of must-visit places. There is lots to know before you go so I’ve created this, a guide to Savary Island, BC for you.
I had been wanting to visit this magical place for about five years but of course it was always just another beautiful place added to my very, very long list of stunning locales to explore (it’s a tough life living in BC, lemme tell ya). Still recovering from a badly sprained ankle thus limited to short, flat hiking for the summer (SO BRUTAL, or so I thought) I figured now was the perfect time to explore the less rugged, not so middle-of-nowhere high alpine spots I typically spend my summers venturing through. Boy what a blessing that was, for I discovered the spectacular beauty of our little BC gem located at the mouth of Desolation Sound. This silver lining sure was shiny!
How To Get There
This is probably why not too many people from Vancouver have visited Savary Island. It is hella far from our great city, but oh so worth the travel. You DEFINITELY need at least 3 days to dedicate to this trip, 4+ ideally. We did it in 4 and it was just right. Could’ve happily spent a few more days there but alas, that silly thing called work drew us all back.
Luckily it’s a beautiful journey.
The main three ways to get to Savary Island are by car, float plane, or bus.
The most common way is by driving. Beware you really have to plan your trip as the last leg of the trip is by passenger-only (no cars) water taxi from Lund to Savary Island and the last water taxi leaves Lund at 6pm. The whole trip takes about 6 hours each way if you time everything right and don’t miss any of your connections. Take the BC Ferries 40 minute ferry (http://www.bcferries.com/) from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale (you should probably reserve the sailing you want), then drive 1.5 hours (81 km) from Langdale to Earl’s Cove ferry terminal. Hop on the 50 minute ferry from Earl’s Cove to Saltery Bay (AKA Sechelt to Powell River), then drive 1 hour (59 km) from Saltery Bay to Lund, where you catch the 15 minute passenger-only (no cars) Lund water taxi from Lund to Savary Island.
It is highly recommended you reserve your water taxi sailing time. Call them at 604-483-9749 or visit http://www.lundwatertaxi.com/ for more info. There is no car ferry to Savary (but you can hire a barge to take your car across separately if you desperately feel the need to have it there).
You can park your car right beside the water taxi dock area at End Of The Road parking service. It’s a great service and really reasonably priced (I think it was $7/day or something). You can call them at 604-486-3667. The water taxi people will tell you about it, but it’s the little wooden hut just above from the wharf. They are a valet service, bringing your car down to the loading area for you to meet your return water taxi.
All in it’s about a 5-6 hour journey each way and costs about $200 round trip for two people + gas, less a bit if you have an Experience Card. If you need a taxi to take you from the Savary Island wharf to your accommodations, you must ask the Lund water taxi to arrange it well in advance. Prices range depending on where you’re going, but about $10 – $30 each way. The water taxi and land taxi will take dogs, kayaks, bikes and other extras for an extra cost.
There are tons of things to do along the way to break up the day. I highly recommend a swim in the stunning Ruby Lake just south of the Earl’s Cove ferry, and a lunch stop at The Grasshopper Pub overlooking the beautiful Pender Harbour.
By Float Plane
Van City Sea Planes flights leave from YVR and cost about $400 return per person to Savary Island. Visit https://www.vancityseaplanes.com/ for more information.
You could also charter a plane with Harbour Air but as far as I’m aware, they don’t have a regular flight to Savary Island.
Malaspina Coach Lines (provides service from both downtown Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport to the Sunshine Coast). Visit www.malaspinacoach.com or call 1-877-227-8287 for more info.
Where To Stay
I camped at Pascal’s place – the only campsite on the island. It’s called Savary Camping & Cottages. Sites are very reasonably priced at $10 per person per night. Learn more at http://www.savarycampingandcottages.com/ The campsite is located in the forest, about 700 metres from the beach. It’s a really nice campsite. There’s a flush toilet, sink, dishwashing area, cold water shower and separate covered cooking/eating area.
Contrary to what you’d probably think given it’s remote location, Savary is a very densely populated island. There are a zillion cabins everywhere, and very close together. While it’s a bit of an eyesore I must say, it’s understandable given how beautiful the beaches are and how teeny tiny the island is. Luckily when we were visiting, even on a hot long weekend in July, there didn’t seem to actually be that many people so there’s probably a lot of vacant spots for you to rent. Hop onto AirBNB to check it out.
There is a place but I don’t really know how to define it as it’s basically a large building with many rooms but no restaurant or spa or anything else, so it’s not really a hotel or a resort. Maybe a lodge? Anyways, it’s called the Savary Island Resort. It would be great if you had a huge group of people like a wedding on the island or something so everyone could stay together. There is a little shop that’s sometimes open that sells ice cream, coffee, chips and hot dogs. Learn more at http://savaryislandresort.ca
Where To Eat & Drink
Bring your own food and drinks! While there are a few places that open sometimes and sell some things, there is nowhere on the island to buy groceries, nor are there any restaurants with regular hours. Contrary to what you might think though, the island does have drinkable well water. Most cabins should have drinkable running water, even the campsite does!
There is an adorable little place called Riggers – a pub, but it wasn’t open when I was there on the Canada Day long weekend. They apparently opened on the Monday as we were leaving.
The general store beside the pub was also closed until the Sunday of the long weekend, and when they opened they only sold ice cream.
Both the pub and general store are on the east side of the island on Vancouver Blvd (the main strip) on the corner of Anderson Rd.
The only other official food place is a candy shop called The Sugar Shack on the west side of the island. Like the name says, they just sell treats like candy, ice cream and donuts.
There are also a bunch of random things that will pop up like a farmer’s market held a few times throughout the summer, or the sign for deep fried spring rolls at the end of someone’s driveway off the boulevard.
You can call the water taxi to order groceries from Lund and have them delivered if you’re really desperate. This is a good option if you’re camping on the island for an extended time for example and need ice for your cooler.
What To Do
Go to the beach of course! Savary Island is surrounded by the most magnificent beaches! While there are some typical west coast rocky shores, there are also tons of soft sandy beaches. Below is a map that I found helpful of the different main areas courtesy of the Savary Sea Breeze cottage. Note that a lot of the island is perched high up on a steep cliff so you can not easily access the beaches from just anywhere. I found it most helpful to use Google maps to find a little trail down from the roads. The SILT visitor guide is also helpful for this.
My favourite beach is definitely South Beach. It is the softest, sandiest beach by far. The water is shallow for quite a ways out so it’s lovely for wading in the water or kids to play in.
My second favourite beach is just down from Indian Point. On the map above, the area between Sunset Trail and Indian Point is a long strip of beautiful shoreline, perfect for strolling along. There are a few spots with sandbars that are great for swimming. While the sand is better (softer – less shells and rocks) at South Beach, the water is prettier in this area. I found it very turquoise-looking. Depending on how the sun hit it, the ocean looked very blue-green, super stunning.
I also really enjoyed swimming at the beach to left of the point between South Side Bluffs and Duck Bay.
Another great beach which you can see on the visitor guide map is Mermaid Rock. On the map above, it’s just to the right of “Springs” which is Indian Springs.
The beach by the wharf is nice for strolling along, but there are tons of boats anchored there so it’s not really great for swimming.
Looking at the map above, if you walk left from the wharf, up at that first bump (First Point) is a great spot to watch the sun set.
I personally didn’t love Savary Shores, and Duck Bay is terribly rocky. If you’re going to leave any beaches out, I’d recommend missing these areas. They’re still pretty, just not as pretty as the others.
Before I arrived, I had a grand plan of walking all around the island along the beaches, but quickly learned this is not easily done, nor is attempting it recommended. First off, it takes WAY LONGER than you would think as while the island is only 7.5 km long tip to tip, it is way longer than the 15-20 km I thought it would be to stroll the perimeter. Quadruple that and you’re probably at a more accurate distance, but it’s also super rocky in some parts so it’s difficult to pass. This point brings me to biking!
The best way to get around the island is biking. Obviously I’m an avid hiker and so I originally thought I would just hike everywhere given the tiny size of the island. I quickly learned that was not the most efficient way around as soon as you add all the distances of the trails in and around the beaches, suddenly you could only cover a fraction of the island in a day. Luckily there is a bike shop on the island that rents bikes for a very reasonable $20/day (cash only). The bikes are old and a bit beaten up, but they do the job. The owner Mike lives right next to it so you could just give him a call at (604) 483-7771 if the bike stand isn’t open. It’s located on Vancouver Blvd on the corner at Campbell Way.
The loop we did was out along Vancouver Blvd and then back along Savary Island Road. We dipped down to a bunch of beaches and hiked a few trails along the way too. It’s a very safe island so you can just leave the bikes on the side of the road and no one will take them. There are a few hills but nothing someone with a moderate fitness level can’t handle. The roads are all dirt roads so you need a mountain bike. A lot of the side streets are very narrow and rooty so you’ll want the good suspension and grippy tires.
The island is small so there aren’t any massive hikes, but there are a few trails that are worth mentioning. SILT lists a bunch of trails with photos on their website as well at http://www.silts.ca/trails.html though there are no stats. Most trails don’t have signs, but all are short and obvious so even if you get lost it won’t take you too long to come out at some clear point to get your bearings. The longest trails are about 1 km and gain less than 100 metres. A handful of these longer trails are even marked on Google Maps, including the the Sunset Trail, Eagle Ridge Trail, Dune Ridge Trail, and Hanging Tree Trail.
No where on the island rents watercrafts like kayaks or paddleboards, despite the signs everywhere. The phone numbers on them are not in service. They used to be owned by the family of the guy who owns the bike shop, but he gave up the business a few years back and no one has taken it over. There is a place in Lund you can rent things from and bring over on the water taxi or just paddle over as it’s not that far.
Things To Know
There was no wifi I was made aware of but I did get decent phone and data coverage in most areas. I’m with Rogers. Some friends I was with are with another company and they didn’t have any connection so I guess it all depends.
Savary is an off-grid island – there is no electricity. Bring light! Some cabins may have generators or solar power but bring a headlamp and/or lantern with extra batteries just in case.
There is no ATM and none of the businesses take cards so bring cash with you.
The environment is very sensitive. The island is full of sand cliffs, ancient forested dunes and dune meadows, each with endangered plants. They are very fragile ecosystems so be sure to stay on marked trails only. Please ensure your pets follow the same rules (keep them on leash). No wheeled vehicles on trails.
Savary Island is teeming full of incredible wildlife. There are bald eagles galore. Just look up and you’re bound to see about 5. At our campsite we saw a ton of hummingbirds, and on the road just past our campsite two barred owls were perched above the road in plain sight. There are no bears or cougars. The ocean of course is full of incredible wildlife. Take a peek at this video my boyfriend captured with his GoPro just off the shore.
The Savary Island Land Trust Society has a ton of great information so please visit their website at http://www.silts.ca. In particular, they have a visitor guide that I found very helpful. You can pick up a hard copy that is more up-to-date by donation at the Savary Island Resort snack bar place.
A local realtor named Rick Thaddeus also has a great website with probably the most current information. He is also super helpful and generous with advice-giving. Visit http://www.savary.ca/ for more information.
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