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Touted as the most beautiful beach on Vancouver Island, San Josef Bay has been garnering a lot of attention from visitors. The road to get there is long and winding, but it will be worth every minute you spend there when you see this gem for yourself.
The journey is half the fun! Why do things feel more satisfying after a challenge? 6-hour drive to northern Vancouver Island, hop onto a gravel road for another two hours, get out of your truck and hike for 45 min to finally reach gorgeous beaches, sea caves and beautiful sea stacks. If it was a 15 min stop, would it become a bucket list goal? I’m not sure, but San Josef Bay makes the trip worth your time. When you make it to your final destination, it becomes something you look back on as a fantastic trip to reminisce about for years to come.
Located along the southern edge of Cape Scott Provincial Park, San Josef Bay is one of the most picturesque beaches on Vancouver Island, with soft white sand that you can picture being straight out of your favourite movie. The sea stacks left standing from storms and tides are also striking features in this area, making for perfect photo opportunities when exploring San Josef’s shores!
The drive from Port Hardy to Cape Scott Provincial Parks’ only access point is mostly gravel. Although well maintained, it can be a rough ride on the mix of public and active logging roads. Expect the journey to take over 2 hours.
The parking lot is small and is the primary access for all hikes for Cape Scott Provincial Park. There is a washroom in the parking lot and another at the beach. Follow the well-marked trail down to San Josef Bay. The path is wide, well maintained and relatively easy for all ages. You will see some great old-growth Sitka Spruce and Western Cedar trees. Once you hit the beach, head to the right, follow it until you see the famous sea stacks and look for caves. Keep going, and you will find a second beach.
If the tide is entirely out, look for tide pools, and take in the sea life and the expansive beaches. Camping is an excellent option as there are two locations—one on each beach. On the second beach, there is a stream to access water for drinking (make sure you treat or filter before drinking). Another camping option is at a private campground located down the road before the parking lot.
HOW DO I GET SAN JOSEF BAY?
To get to the Cape Scott Trailhead, start by driving Highway 19 north. Just before the highway enters Port Hardy, turn left onto Holberg Road. The road quickly turns to gravel. The remaining 60+km is on rough gravel and active logging roads, so small cars are not recommended and be prepared for large logging trucks.
ARE DOGS ALLOWED?
Dogs are permitted in San Josef Bay area only and must be leashed at all times. Dogs are prohibited in all other areas of the provincial park, including the North Coast Trail.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE TRAIL IN?
For such a remote location, the trail is wide and well maintained—an easy hike.
San Josef Bay is one of the most beautiful places on Vancouver Island, so it’s no surprise why people would add San Josef Bay to their Vancouver Island Bucket List.
– Be prepared for rain any time of year
– Be prepared for mosquitos and bugs
– No cell coverage
– The best time to visit is at low tide
– Be aware of animals. bears, cougars and wolves are all in the area
Drive: 2-hour drive from Port Hardy mix of gravel public and logging roads
Restrooms: Pit toilets at the parking lot and the beach
Camping: Wilderness tent camping is allowed at San Josef Bay. Bear Cache, pit toilets and creek water are all available along the beach.
We love this 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!
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!
When visiting the beach, it’s essential to pay attention and stay safe! Please be cautious walking on the shore during high tide. At this time, some areas may not be accessible. Click here for the tides in your area. Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.
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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