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A Guide To Pender Island Camping: The Six Best Campgrounds, Backcountry Camping Info & More!

Located in the Gulf of Georgia in British Columbia is pretty Pender Island, which is actually a group of two islands, North Pender and South Pender. Separated by a canal, these islands are serene, have wonderful ocean views, incredible hiking trails, and lots of wildlife to discover. With that being the case, it’s little surprise camping in Pender Island is becoming more popular each year.

Here, you can enjoy a laid-back getaway in the arms of mother nature. But there’s a lot more on offer than just sandy beaches and pristine sea. From lush hills to lakes, coves, unbelievable sunsets (see below) and fun activities like kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, and more, it’s easy for days to fly by when staying here.

As we know this place well, we’ve decided to share with you our favorite Pender Island campgrounds below. All will bring you breathtaking views and wonderful adventures in one of Canada’s most beautiful spots.

We then share with you information on the best time to go camping in Pender Island, followed by info on backcountry camping at Pender Island.

So read on to begin your Pender Island camping adventure!

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

The Six Best Campgrounds In Pender Island for Fun, Views and Adventure

1. Port Browning Marina

Open all year, Port Browning Marina provides RV sites and tent camping. They have around 25 sites available. Some sit amongst ancient apple trees in an orchard, while others have views of the ocean.

They also have four fully serviced RV sites with access to water, sewer hookups, and electricity. And on top of the fantastic shared toilet and washroom facilities, all campers also have access to a swimming pool and an on-site pub!

It’s a really beautiful setting to stay, the facilities are luxurious for camping, and it’s all at a very affordable price. Port Browning Marina is easily one of the best Pender Island camping options available.

What You’ll Love About Staying Here

This campground is large enough that even when busy, it still feels like you have enough privacy and space. And if you are traveling with family, kids will have a big on-site playground to play in and a pool to swim in.

Alongside the great facilities and free WiFi, this Pender Island campground is set in wonderful green surroundings. In our opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful Pender Island camping options out there.

What’s Close By

The beach is just a short walk away, whilst a short drive will bring you to many amenities like shops and restaurants.

If you don’t want to leave the campground for good food, they do a great breakfast at the on-site cafe called Bridgeman’s Bistro. Port Browning Marina’s own pub also has a good and varied lunch & dinner menu. It’s a great place for a beer after a long day of exploring too.

Rates: Starting at $25 per night.

Address: 4605 Oak Rd Pender Island, BC V0N 2M1

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

2. Shingle Bay Campground

This Pender Island campground sits beside a pebble beach and is a great choice for kayakers as the bay is popular with paddlers.

Conveniently, this place is also close to the ferry terminal on North Pender so it can also be used as a base for day tripping to other nearby regions.

This campground has ten campsites which require a short hike to get to. It’s actually an official backcountry campsite – so it’s very cheap.

However because of that the facilities are almost non-existent. Although there are pit toilets and picnic tables. There’s no potable water so you will have to take drinking water with you, but a small stream does run near the campground.

It’s a special place that truly feels like camping in the heart of nature. Plus as there’s little artificial light it’s perfect for stargazing or trying to spot the Northern Lights. And as it sits in a quiet location right beside the sea, you’ll go to sleep and wake up with the sounds of the waves.

You typically have to make a reservation to stay here. It can get booked up fast, so it’s best to reserve your spot in advance. That can be done online.

What You’ll Love About Staying Here

This is a pet-friendly and quiet campground. But one of the big plus points is it sits right beside a beach, so you can enjoy water activities or even arrive at the campground by kayak.

On top of all of that, this is a wonderful birdwatching area. So keep your eyes on the sky for goldeneyes, kingfishers, herons, and even osprey eagles.

What’s Close By

Roe Lake is extremely close to this campsite and you can easily hike there. It’s secluded, peaceful and you can swim in its pristine waters – you may be the only person doing so! Look out for beavers while visiting.

Otter Bay, where you can catch the ferry, is within walking distance. There’s several amenities in the village, including a fantastic little museum and a tiny restaurant/take away spot near the ferry called The Stand – they do a great breakfast bun and seafood burger.

Rates: From $5 per night

Address: Shingle Bay Rd, Pender Island, BC V0N 2M1

Photo via Unsplash+

3. Beaumont Provincial Park Campground

Established in 1960, Beaumont Provisional Park is 178 hectares of pristine landscape with a campground that has 49 vehicle-accessible campsites, as well as 5 walk-in tent campsites with lake-front access.

This Pender Island campground has potable water available, toilets, and each site has a picnic table and fire pit.

The park itself has some great sandy beaches and calm water for swimming, making this campground a fantastic option for families.

What You’ll Love About Staying Here

The campground is kid friendly and there’s even a playground. There’s also nearby access to beaches and lakes to have lots of family fun.

While it’s quite a rustic camping experience, there are many activities to take part in at the park itself, like canoeing, fishing, waterskiing, hiking, swimming, and even toasting marshmallows by your fire pit at night. As an added bonus, this campground is pet-friendly.

What’s Close By

If you are a coffee lover like us and want to get away from campground coffee, then Slow Coast Coffee house is a must-visit that’s just a short drive away.

Visit nearby Vanilla Leaf Bakery Cafe for the best cinnamon buns too and a taste of civilization!

Rates: From $22 per night

Address: 14108 Yellowhead Hwy, Fort Fraser, BC V0J 1N0

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

4. Prior Centennial Campground

Set in the shade of a thick wood made up of ancient cedar, fir, maple, and birch trees, this pretty little campground has 17 unserviced drive-in campsites that feel secluded and private.

All those campsites come with picnic tables and fire pits. The shared pit toilets are well maintained, and you can get potable water from water pumps.

This campground is quiet and peaceful, it’s close to a couple of great beaches, and there’s plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife from your tent – be that birds or deer.

So if you’re looking for a Pender Island camping option that is like backcountry camping – but with a few more facilities – then this would be perfect.

What You’ll Love About Staying Here

It really is a lovely place to stay and relax under the shades of trees. The campsites are flat so pitching tents is easy – we all love no stress camping after all!

There is a hiking trail named Heart Trail, near the campsite which is a great trek with lots of wildlife-spotting opportunities. In fact that’s one of the main reasons we like this place, it’s right in the heart of nature.

What’s Close By

Hamilton Beach and Medicine Beach are very close to the Prior Centennial Campground and both are swimming beaches with great spots for picnicking and beachcombing.

If you get bored of RV cooking, Penderosa Pizza has tasty pizzas and is just a ten-minute drive away from the campground. Truss Food Truck is also just a few minutes away and has farm-fresh food. 

In fact this Pender Island campground is pretty central so could be a very good base for someone looking to explore around the islands.

Rates: From $18.75 per night

Address: 5714 Canal Rd, Pender Island, BC V0N 2M1

Photo for illustrative purposes only. H Irvin

5. Beaumont Marine Park Campground

Beaumont Marine Park Campground is situated on South Pender Island and offers a great outdoor experience thanks to there being several trails to hike. It’s another official backcountry camping site, so is just $5 per night, but it’s only accessible via the water by either a boat or kayak.

There’s 11 spots for camping here (some can be reserved) and several mooring buoys for boaters and kayakers. The campsites come with picnic tables and pit toilets.

Thanks to the rural location, you’ll have plenty of wildlife spotting and stargazing opportunities at this Pender Island camping spot.

However this place was closed off to overnight camping on Match 1st 2022 until further notice, so do double check if it’s possible to camp there on the dates you’re thinking of visiting.

What You’ll Love About Staying Here

You will love waking up to the chirping of birds and the gentle sea breeze. Have your morning coffee and look out on the waves as you try and spot seals and blue herons. With that to start your day, it’s hard not to love staying at this Pender Island campground.

The surrounding area is famous for kayaking, paddle sports, and hiking. The campsites are close to the seashore so provide the perfect base for kayakers and hikers.

The hiking trails nearby are fun but at the same time steep enough to feel like you had a good workout! On top of that there are many fun activities for you to enjoy like swimming, beachcombing, fishing, and birdwatching.

What’s Close By

Mt. Norman, the highest point on Pender Island, is close by and great for a morning hike! There you’ll get a phenomenal view over the entire Gulf Islands. 

Hub at Hope Bay is a pet-friendly restaurant with a great location that can be reached by boat. It’s well worth stopping in for a bite to eat.

Rates: From $5 per night

Address:  South Pender Island, BC V0N 2M1

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

6. Woods on Pender

For something a little different – and a break from your tent or RV – how about a spot of glamping?

This glamping site set on seven acres of pristine land was created for people who are looking to relax in the arms of nature without compromising on the comfort of home.

They have two types of accommodation: Airstreams and Cabins. Some of those come with amenities like hot tubs, barbeques, fire pits and hammocks that are perfect for relaxing and getting started on your favorite book.

They also have private bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and some even have outdoor showers.

What You’ll Love About Staying Here

The views of the ocean and forest when staying here is pretty special, as are the facilities. There’s also a restaurant on site and a games room, free WiFi, and access to some fantastic hiking trails.

This is also the most luxurious Pender Island campground you’re going to find! So if you can afford it, you’re going to have an exceptional camping experience.

What’s Close By

Although they have their own kitchen and restaurant on site, Jo’s Place is a fantastic nearby restaurant that serves gourmet-style comfort food.

On top of the hiking trails accessible from the site, you’re only a few minutes drive from South Pender and all the nature and outdoor activities available there.

Rates: From $260 per night

Address: 4709 Canal Road Pender Island, B.C., V0N 2M1

Photo via Unsplash+

Pender Island Camping: When’s the Best Time To Visit?

Weather-wise the best time to visit the islands is from May to August, with July probably the most favorable month if you’re looking for warm temperatures. In winter it gets very cold (40 F) and swimming and kayaking is not something you can really participate in!

Pender Island is also a hub of art, creativity, and culture, and many activities and events are organized all year long. If you can time your Pender Island camping holiday with one of these events you’ll get an even better taste of island life.

The most famous festival is probably the Pender Island Short Film Festival which usually runs at the end of August/start of September. It’s a great event that celebrates young and local filmmakers from different genres, but you’ll also find many aspiring filmmakers from around the region come to showcase their work.

Every year locals look forward to the Mosaic Arts and Culture Festival which tends to be held near the end of July. It celebrates local craftsmen who perform and participate in various workshops and activities.

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

Backcountry Camping In Pender Island & In Canada

DISCLAIMER: Below we give general advice, but we always recommend staying in an official campsite. If you choose to go backcountry camping/dispersed camping, then make sure you do so with someone who already knows the area where you’re planning on camping for your own safety.

Backcountry camping, also known as wild camping, is generally tolerated in Canada. Although there are certain areas you are prohibited from camping in. These include:

  • National Parks
  • Cities
  • Provincial Parks

Some of these areas will have official backcountry campgrounds where you pay a small fee to stay – like Shingle Bay Campground.

However camping in a National or Provincial park outside of these official backcountry campgrounds could land you in trouble. And rangers and conservation officers do patrol regularly and will hand out hefty fines to people backcountry camping in prohibited areas.

Sometimes it is possible to purchase a ‘backcountry’ camping permit too. That would then allow you to camp in a park outside of a Pender Island campground. Not all parks offer them – and they’re not widely advertised. If there’s somewhere you wish to camp, then get in contact with local authorities to see if these are available.

As for where you are allowed to camp, Canadian residents can camp for free on Crown Land – which is publicly owned land. Thankfully 89% of land in Canada is classed as ‘Crown Land’. However much of that is still off limits – National Parks, for example, are also Crown Land.

In general: If land is publicly owned, it’s not one of the prohibited areas that we listed above, and you are far from settlements – you’re likely to be on Crown Land that can be camped on for free. However, keep an eye on local maps for confirmation, and obey any signs that say camping is prohibited

There are rules for backcountry camping on Crown Land, however:

  • You may camp in the same place for 21 days only in one calendar year.

  • After 21 days you must move to a place at least 100m away if you wish to continue camping.

  • While free for citizens and Canadian residents, non-residents must obtain a permit to wild camp on Crown Land.

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