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Beach

Where to next on Vancouver Island: Rathtrevor Beach | What to Expect When Visiting Parksville

•  Easy
•  Parksville
Time:
1hr+
Length:
1.5km+

Activity:

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playground
Picnic Icon

Accessibility:

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All ages elderly Icon
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Experience endless low tide sand flats outside of Parksville

Located just south of Parksville, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is a unique stop to be added to every traveller’s Vancouver Island Bucket List, mainly due to its fascinating tidal beach and well-maintained park.

Depending on when you visit, you might be greeted by a small, rocky shoreline during high tide or, as the ocean recedes, an endless view of sand stretching out almost a kilometre. 

A serene coastal scene with a white boat moored on a sandy beach at low tide, under a clear blue sky with soft clouds and a forested coastline in the background

This natural spectacle offers the unique opportunity to spend hours wandering the vast sandy beach, observing the slow and steady return of the water as the beach recedes. 

Beyond the tidal waters, Rathtrevor Park is known as a great location for families, its amenities include a large picnic area, playground, wide pathways, and a very popular campground, all nestled within a diverse mix of ecosystems. 

Rathtrevor Provincial Park is not just a place for exploration and relaxation but also a perfect spot for families and nature enthusiasts alike to immerse themselves in this Vancouver Island phenomenon.

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Rathtrevor Beach | What to Expect When Visiting Parksville Photos:

Park Overview

There is a reason why Rathtrevor Beach is a premier vacation destination on Vancouver Island: BC parks do an outstanding job keeping this area clean and well-equipped. Great amenities, a unique experience, and time on a sandy Pacific Ocean beach with some of the warmest waters around Vancouver Island. When visiting, expect to have everything you need for the perfect family experience.

Park Features

  • The beach
  • Picnic facilities and amenities
  • Walking and biking trails
  • Campground
  • Nature House

 

Tips and Suggestions

Amenities
RathTrevor Beach Park has everything from changing rooms and playgrounds to running water and flush toilets.

Parking
The main parking lot is a large paved lot located at the end of the road, just before the main campground. There is a second parking lot, a large gravel lot just off the main road, that is closer to the picnic area.

Accessibility
Rathtrevor Beach is wheelchair accessible with wide flat trails, accessible washrooms and ramp access to the beach

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. However, dogs are not permitted in the beach areas, except for the beach adjacent to the campground, where they are allowed between May 1 and February 14, as long as they remain on a leash.

Can I make a reservation for camping at Rathtrevor Beach?
Yes, reservations are highly recommended, especially during the summer months (between the last week of June and Labour Day in September), as Rathtrevor Beach is a very popular camping spot. Reservations can be made online through the BC Parks website or the associated reservation service.

Is there a charge for parking at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park?
Access to Rathtrevor Beach Park is free. There is a cost for camping and picnic shelters.

What amenities are available at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park?
The park offers a range of amenities, including picnic areas, washrooms with flush toilets, drinking water, and an adventure playground. It also has wheelchair-accessible facilities such as campsites, shower stalls, toilets, beach access, and many walking trails.

Are campfires allowed at Rathtrevor Beach?
Campfires are allowed for campers in designated fire rings provided at each campsite unless a campfire ban is in effect. Firewood can be purchased within the park to support conservation efforts and minimize the impact on the park’s natural environment.

What activities can I enjoy at Rathtrevor Beach?
Visitors can enjoy various activities, including hiking on 5.5km of easy walking trails, ocean swimming, paddle boarding/kayaking, wildlife viewing, and participating in interpretive programs when available.

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Visitors strolling and enjoying leisure activities on the wide sandy expanse of Rathtrevor Beach with calm water and mountain silhouettes against a clear sky.

The Beach

Whether the tide is high or low, you are guaranteed to have a unique experience

High Tide: 

Vancouver Island isn’t known for its warm Pacific waters, but there are a few places where the water is ideal temperature during the hot summer months: Tribune Bay, Parksville Beach and Rathtrevor Beach all have warmer waters and sand beaches.

The sun warms the sand and shallow waters of the bay, making it invitingly warm and perfect for a leisurely swim or a playful splash. The beach gradually slopes into the water, creating a safe, controlled environment for all ages.

Find a spot for an oversized beach towel and unload all of your beach gear to set up for a great day in the sun.

Low Tide: 

This is what the people come for, as the newly exposed beach offers opportunities for long walks along the sand while keeping a lookout for snails, seastars, and crabs, building giant sandcastles, or just sitting back and enjoying the expansive beach.

A peaceful picnic area in a pine forest with scattered benches and tables on a bed of pine needles

Picnic Facilities

Nestled amidst the shore is a large shaded area equipped with picnic tables, offering a comforting oasis for visitors seeking a tranquil dining experience amidst nature. 

Picnic tables are conveniently spread throughout the shaded area, creating an ideal setting for family picnics, friendly gatherings or a quiet moment of solitude with a book and a snack.

Larger picnic shelters are available for booking. Perfect for large families and groups. Booking is required from March to October.

Book at camping.bcparks.ca  Group Tab>Group Picnic area

Playground, restrooms, drinking water and change houses are available throughout the Rathtrevor Provincial Park

Trails

Rathtrevor Beach Park has 5.5km of wheelchair-accessible walking trails that meander along the beach and weave through mature forests. Short trails link the beach to the campsites.

There is another trail that forms a loop starting from just before the main parking lot and it passes through a beautiful heritage farm field. You can find detailed trail maps at the information shelters located in the park.

For your own safety and to help preserve the park, it is important to follow the posted signs and stick to the designated trails. Taking shortcuts can harm plant life and soil structure, so it’s important to avoid them.

Rathtrevor Beach Nature House

Nature Houses in parks like Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park often serve as educational centers that give visitors insights into the local ecology, wildlife, and conservation efforts.

This facility is designed to enrich the visitor experience through interactive displays, educational programs, and activities led by knowledgeable staff or volunteers. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the natural world, the specific environments of the park, and how to engage with nature responsibly.

Nature Houses offer resources for all ages, making them an ideal stop for families, school groups, and anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the area’s natural heritage and ecological importance. For the most accurate and detailed information about the Rathtrevor Beach Nature House, including its programs, opening hours, and what you can expect to find there, it would be best to visit the official website or contact the park directly.

 

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"It's one of the islands best beaches. Lots of parking. Plenty of trails to walk. Miles and miles of open beach when the tide is out"

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Planning your day at Rathtrevor Beach

Directions Google Maps: Located a couple of kilometres south of Parksville just off of Island Highway. 

Tides: Plan your visit around tides every visit is a new experience.  Tide information 

Best time of year: Rathtrevor Beach is open all year and worth visiting any season. To take advantage of the warmer water, July and August are best, but you may have a harder time finding parking at this busy beach during the summer months. 

Reserving Sites: To book picnic shelters or camping sites, visit BC Parks 

Children's playground with climbing structures and slides at Rathtrevor Park, surrounded by picnic benches and trees, under a bright sunny sky with mountains in the background.

Dogs Within the Park Boundaries

Pets are allowed in the park with a leash, but be aware of sensitive areas, including the beaches. Pay attention to signage and follow the provided maps.

Map of Rathtrevor Beach showing areas such as the Campground, various facilities indicated with pictograms like toilets and parking, and beach areas with a note that pets are not allowed from February to April and a separate 'No Pets' zone at the Low Tide Beach area

Day-use beach area:  No pets at any time of the year.

Campground beach area: Pets are allowed on the beach between May 1 and February to help protect migrating Brant Geese and other wildlife.

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Rathtrevor Campground

This very popular campground is open year-round. However, during the winter season, the facilities are limited.

Campground Features:

  • 250-vehicle accessible campsites 
  • 4 group sites 
  • 25 walk in sites for tenting
  • Showers
  • Drinking water
  • Showers
  • Playground

Book camping sites through BC Parks 

 

Hotels on the beach

There are no hotels within the park, there are accommodations are available on the other side of the beach

Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort is located 400 meters from Rathtrevor Beach Park and has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool.

Pacific Shores Resort is found on the other side of the bay, making for amazing sunsets.  

 

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FAQ:

Are dogs allowed at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. However, dogs are not permitted in the beach areas, except for the beach adjacent to the campground, where they are allowed between May 1 and February 14, as long as they remain on a leash.

Can I make a reservation for camping at Rathtrevor Beach?
Yes, reservations are highly recommended, especially during the summer months (between the last week of June and Labour Day in September), as Rathtrevor Beach is a very popular camping spot. Reservations can be made online through the BC Parks website or the associated reservation service.

Is there a charge for parking at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park?
Access to Rathtrevor Beach Park is free. There is a cost for camping and picnic shelters.

What amenities are available at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park?
The park offers a range of amenities, including picnic areas, washrooms with flush toilets, drinking water, and an adventure playground. It also has wheelchair-accessible facilities such as campsites, shower stalls, toilets, beach access, and many walking trails.

Are campfires allowed at Rathtrevor Beach?
Campfires are allowed for campers in designated fire rings provided at each campsite unless a campfire ban is in effect. Firewood can be purchased within the park to support conservation efforts and minimize the impact on the park’s natural environment.

What activities can I enjoy at Rathtrevor Beach?
Visitors can enjoy various activities, including hiking on 5.5km of easy walking trails, ocean swimming, paddle boarding/kayaking, wildlife viewing, and participating in interpretive programs when available.

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Original Author:

Modified: July 4, 2024
Last Visit: September 12, 2023
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Thank you for visiting – I hope you found the information you were looking for at VIBL (Vancouver Island Bucket List) please continue to discover all of the great places that makes Vancouver Island so great! 

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Pack Out:
We love Vancouver Island and want to keep the natural beauty. Please respect the places you visit and pack out what you pack in and leave the area better than when you arrived. We all know how much trash can spoil an experience and the environment, so please help us keep it clean!

Wildlife:
Vancouver Island is a land of natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions for personal and wildlife safety.
Black bears, cougars and even wolves are common on Vancouver Island for more on Wildlife Safety Click Here 

Tide and Seasonal Safety:
Changing seasons and tides can have a drastic effect on most locations on Vancouver Island. Please be cautious as the information in this post may vary depending on the time of year and weather. Make sure to check for current weather and tide information before you make your journey! Click here for the tides in your area. 

Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.

Land Acknowledgement:
We would like to acknowledge the land we appreciate daily within the 50 First Nations that make up the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the first peoples of Vancouver Island .

Disclaimer:
The information on this website should not be taken as accurate, complete or up-to-date. Please check and look into the information yourself. We do not assume any liabilities for the use of this information. It is unreasonable to rely solely upon the information from this website. 

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