Whether your idea of a getaway involves a day of hiking or a fireplace and an ocean view, Texada Island should be your next destination. Situated between the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, its physical size and sparse population make it perfect for a tranquil escape. Don’t confuse quiet with boring; there are many ways to keep busy on “The Rock,” as locals call it.
You’ll want to be prepared before boarding the car and passenger ferry from Powell River’s Westview Terminal, since amenities are limited. The boat docks at Blubber Bay on the northern tip of the island. From here, the drive is about 10 minutes to Van Anda or 20 minutes to Gillies Bay, the two main residential areas. The signage is straightforward, and you won’t be led astray if you stay on the paved road.
The road diverts in either direction at the gas station, which is the only one on the island. It’s usually open all week in the summer but hours vary, and Sundays are a no-go in the off-season. Island time is a reality here, and the few restaurants and stores may not always follow posted schedules—if you want to be certain, call first. Cell phone signals are consistent on the northern end and increasingly spotty as you go south. With a full tank of gas, and the knowledge that you’ll likely be travelling on some unpaved roads, you’re ready to explore this sprawling island.
1. Try a water sport
Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned stand-up paddleboard expert, head to Shelter Point, Shingle Beach, Gillies Bay Beach, or scope out the lagoons behind Sturt Bay. Bring your own board or get one for the day from SUP Texada Paddleboard Rentals.
Local scuba divers proudly note that Jacques Cousteau praised the area’s deep waters. Bring your gear and test the depths at Blubber Bay, Erickson Beach, and Shelter Point. If you’re feeling adventurous and are equipped with a 4x4, head south to Anderson Bay Provincial Park where you’ll likely be alone in the water.
On a calm day, you can kayak your way around Dick Island at Shelter Point Park and cross your fingers for an orca sighting or enjoy the solitude at Anderson Bay.
2. Go for a hike
The vast landscape means countless hikes to choose from, including peaks, forest trails, and waterfalls. Pick up a brochure of Texada hikes from a local business or view it online to get the lowdown. AllTrails provides some guidance, but beware as it occasionally sends hikers onto private property.
Marble Bay and Eagle Cove Trails are close to the ferry and offer numerous loops and hand-crafted gnome homes along the trail for a magical touch. For low effort and high reward, check out Stromberg Falls in the rainy season. Meanwhile, the hike up Mount Davies never fails to impress with its panoramic views. Shelter Point campers can enjoy a short flat loop at the nearby Nature Trail, where a giant Douglas fir awaits.
3. Attend an event
Summer is buzzing with events on Texada Island. Groove to the soulful tunes at the Blues and Roots Festival, discover local talent at artist markets or studio tours, or compete at an event during Sandcastle Weekend. Airplane aficionados will learn plenty during Aviation Week, which includes an Aerospace Camp for preteens and teens. For the ultimate challenge, participate in Run the Rock, a full and half-marathon and 8K race.
4. Visit the museum
The Texada Island Museum in Van Anda has a wealth of information on the island’s past. You’ll find replicas of old mines, a multitude of artifacts from various groups who called Texada home, and an in-depth look at life during the prosperous Gold Rush. Admission is by donation and the museum is volunteer-run, so call ahead to check it’s open.
5. Enjoy a meal
Stop by Mary Mary Cafe in Van Anda for daily breakfast and lunch, or dinner specials a few days a week. Nearby, the Texada Island Inn serves lunch and dinner and boasts a mountain view from the patio. Partway between the two townships you’ll find The Flower and the Bee, a stop for homemade treats, meals, and both local and imported goods. In the summer, the concession at Shelter Point Park is the place to enjoy burgers, hot dogs, and fish and chips.
Need to stock up on supplies? For snacks, ingredients, a butcher, and a liquor store, the Texada Market in Van Anda and The Gillies Bay General Store are open seven days a week. Be sure to check out the Farmer’s Market on Sundays from June to September for baked goods and locally-grown produce. Enjoy a warm donut with coffee, get a loaf of sourdough or a bag of granola, and scoop up a homemade pie.
6. View the wildlife
With a small population and large land mass, animals outnumber humans—you’ll quickly notice the deer that sometimes dart into the road. Thankfully, there are no predators so you can hike and camp with ease.
You’ll want to keep an eye up to the sky for a bald eagle sighting and bring binoculars to identify over 200 types of birds. Enjoy the grandeur of the great blue herons by the seaside and look out for otters, seals, dolphins, orcas, and humpback whales in the water. When you see the Western Painted turtles sunbathing at Emily Lake in Van Anda, you’ll understand why it’s commonly known as Turtle Lake.
7. Set up camp
Campsites are primarily available on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early.
Shelter Point Campground offers the most amenities and has RV, tent, and group sites. You’ll find drinking water, showers, flush toilets, firewood, and a concession stand in the summer. Facilities are limited in the winter, but the site remains open.
You’ll have to drive 12 kilometres down an unpaved road to get to Shingle Beach Campground, but the picturesque views and tranquil surroundings are worth it. There is no drinking water on-site, so come prepared.
At Bob’s Lake, you can camp in the wooded areas or by the serene lake for a truly off-grid experience. There is only one outhouse on the grounds, and no drinking water.
8. Go for a swim
Shelter Point is a favorite thanks to the ample lawn, light ocean waves, and stunning views. Plus, the concession stand makes it a great spot to stay all day. Shingle Beach requires a longer drive from the ferry, but it’s worth it to swim along the pebbled shores. For a quick dip in Van Anda, Erickson Beach is the place to go.
If you’re looking for freshwater, a 10-minute stroll from the Texada Market in Van Anda brings you to Emily Lake. Or, buckle up for a bouncy ride along unpaved roads to Bob’s Lake for a refreshing swim.
9. Discover local products
Texada residents boast a range of artistic skills, including photography, painting, calligraphy, stained glass, felting, basket making, and ceramics. Find them at an artist market or visit studios by appointment. Keep an eye out for other offerings, such as locally produced maple syrup, jewelry made with rare flower rock, and Texada Spirits Company’s island-distilled booze.
10. Get active
Take a swing at the 9-hole golf course or bring a frisbee to play a round of disc golf at Shelter Point. The tennis courts in Gillies Bay are perfect for competitive types, or you can gather a group for a game of baseball in Gillies Bay or Van Anda. If you’d rather discover the island on two wheels, cycle along the shoulder to avoid cars or try a forest mountain biking trail.