VIBL logo Vancouver Island Bucket List horz wht
VANCOUVER ISLAND - Where to Next?
Walk, Hike

Where to next on Vancouver Island: Saysutshun – Newcastle Island Provincial Park

•  Easy
Time:
1-4hrs
Length:
1-10km

Activity:

walk icon
Hiking Icon
Beach Icon
bike icon

Accessibility:

Family access icon
All ages elderly Icon

Explore Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park, a must-visit when staying in Nanaimo

Enjoy the short 10-minute passenger ferry ride from Maffeo Sutton Park to Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park and experience the island that is free of cars, roads, bears and cougars.

A day trip from downtown Nanaimo for lunch or a picnic along the shoreline or stay a few nights for a wonderful camping experience. No matter how long you visit this small Island, you will find a lot to experience, including 20+km of trails, centuries of history hidden around the island, a campground, bike and kayak rentals, Saysutshun concession and wildlife. 

Water's Edge on Newcastle Island, Nanaimo: A scenic shoreline with smooth rock formations leading into clear, shallow water. Trees and a grassy area are visible in the distance under a bright blue sky.

Quick Facts About Saysutshun – Newcastle Island Marine Park

  • First known as Saysutshun by the Snuneymuxw First Nation
  • Newcastle Island was named by the British after the coal town in Northern England
  • No bears or cougars live on the island
  • Only accessible by foot passenger ferry, paddling or boat
  • A unique natural, historical and cultural experience for visitors
  • The history of the island includes
    • Two Snuneymoxw fishing villages
    • Coal mines
    • Japanese saltries & shipyards
    • Sandstone quarries
  • Wheelchair access – Is limited as the ferries have no ramps, 

Tips and Suggestions

Parking: Hourly and overnight parking is available at Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo

Ferry: For a small fee the small passenger ferry allows allows dogs, extra camping gear and bikes (not electric)

Food: Restaurant/concession on the Island during the summer months

Amenities: Flush & outhouse style toilets, restaurant, playground, bike and kayak rentals

DISCOVER MORE
the best spots directly in your inbox

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to Newcastle Island?
During the summer months, a small ferry will take you from Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park to the island. During the off-season, the only access is by paddling or private boat.

What activities are available on the island?
Newcastle Island offers a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, picnicking, camping, wildlife viewing, and exploring historical sites.

Are there any amenities on the island?
The island has a restaurant, play areas, restrooms and picnic areas.

Can I camp on Newcastle Island?
Yes, camping is available on the island. There are well-maintained campgrounds, but it’s best to make reservations in advance, especially during peak season.

What wildlife can I expect to see?
Newcastle Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and raccoons. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for wildlife viewing.

Are pets allowed on the island?
Pets are allowed on Newcastle Island but must be kept on a leash at all times. Make sure to clean up after your pet and respect the natural environment.

Can I rent equipment on the island?
Yes, rental services are available for kayaks and paddleboards.

Are there guided tours available?
Yes, guided tours are available and provide a great way to learn about the island’s history and natural features. You can check availability here.

What are the operating hours of the ferry?
The ferry operates daily with frequent trips, but hours may vary depending on the season. Generally, Ferry opens May 15- September 15th and run every 30 minutes and it takes 10 minutes to get to

Is there an entrance fee for Newcastle Island?
There is no entrance fee for the island itself, but there is a fare for the ferry ride.

Show More

Exploring The Island

Whether you arrive at Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park by ferry, kayak, or personal boat, the landing area is open and easy to navigate, allowing easy, enjoyable experiences along the eastern shores. For those who want to explore, there are more than 20km of trails ranging in difficulty. There are also bike and kayak rentals available to expand your options around Newcastle Island.

Saysutshun Totem Pole: A colorful totem pole standing in an open grassy area with benches. The background features the ocean, a distant ship, and a clear blue sky.

When landing, you will be greeted by a totem pole and a large red building just off in the distance. The Newcastle Island Pavillion was built in the 1930s as a dance hall for visitors brought here by boats from Vancouver as a vacation getaway. It was restored in 1984 and now operates as the concession and pavilion hall for special events.

A small building with a sign that reads "Kayak and Bike Rentals". The building is surrounded by grassy areas and trees, with picnic tables and boats visible in the background.

To the right is a smaller building along the shore where you can rent pedal bikes and kayaks. To the left is a fenced area where you can see signs of previous industry, such as the equipment and partially drilled stone wheels. The sandstone here was perfect for creating large stone wheels from the rock used to crush sawdust into pulp for the paper industry. 

The sun rising over a beach with driftwood in the foreground. The sky and water are illuminated with warm golden light.The day-use area has a unique shoreline along the open field, which is all sandstone, making for unique terrain when the tide is out. Shallow tide pools make it fun to explore.

Exploring the trails around the campground and on the southeast island is easy. As you explore further north and along the west shore, you may find narrower trails with some elevation change.

Public washrooms can be found near the main dock, throughout the campground and along the trail.

Keep your eyes open for deer and raccoons. They feel safe on the island, as there are no predators. The island is also home to the rare white raccoon. 

Learn more about the island by booking a historical walking tour put on by the Snuneymuxw – Book a private walking tour online or call 1-866-788-6243

 

"Last year we visited Sayshutshun Island for a day, and knew we had to come back. We recently camped for almost a week and had a wonderful time. The trails are great for birding. We also had a fun time renting a kayak and going around the bay. We were lucky to see sealions, raccoons, and multiple otters on the shores."

Beach Suites
kitchen-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
pet-dog-friendly-icon-single
Beach Icon
200 metres from Parksville Beach and each unit is fitted with a fully...
NeckPoint Treasure BnB
outdoor-seating-patio-icon-single
desk-work-station-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
he property has mountain and garden views, and is 10 km from Newcastl...
Beach Acres Resort
Beach Icon
swimming-pool-icon-single
kitchen-icon-single
sauna-icon-single
Access to the beach, pool, sauna, 3 tennis courts and a hot tub. Chil...
Hammond Bay Oceanside
Beach Icon
ocean-views-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
This oceanfront B&B in Nanaimo, British Columbia, offers on-site ...
The Tides Inn
BBQ-barbeque-icon-single
pet-dog-friendly-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
Located on West Island Highway, Tide's Inn provides free Wi-Fi. A gar...
AnnArthur Guest House
kitchen-icon-1
outdoor-seating-patio-icon-single
BBQ-barbeque-icon-single
Wifi icon
Offering a barbecue and sun terrace, AnnArthur Guest House is located...
beach club resort parksville
swimming-pool-icon-single
Beach Icon
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
spa-massage-icon-single
This Parksville hotel is located on Vancouver Island, on Parksville B...
Courtyard by Marriott Nanaimo
swimming-pool-icon-single
food icon
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
hot-tub-icon-single
Featuring a shared lounge, bar and views of city, Courtyard by Marrio...
Coast Parksville Hotel
pet-dog-friendly-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
Located in Parksville, 200 metres from Parksville Beach, Coast Parksv...
Cranberry Arms Pub and Hotel
kitchen-icon-single
The property is around 9.1 km from Wildplay Element Park, 10 km from ...
Coast Bastion Hotel
ocean-views-icon-single
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
food icon
camping-icon-wifi
Boasting rooms with ocean or city views, Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanai...
Best Western Northgate
patio-outdoor-space-icon-single
kitchen-icon-single
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
breakfast-coffee-and-croissant-icon-single
Offered daily, breakfast at Best Western Northgate includes waffles, ...

Hike Around the Island - 10km Coastal Trail

This 10 km hiking trail is an easy-to-moderate trail that takes you around the island’s perimeter. It offers wonderful views of the coastal mountains, Nanaimo, signs of the industries of the past, and, of course, wonderful nature trails through mature Doulas fir, Garry oak, arbutus, and big-leaf maple trees.

wo deer grazing near the rocky shoreline. One deer is looking directly at the camera, while the other is focused on eating. The background features driftwood, rocks, and calm water with Protection Island in the distance.

When starting from the dock, follow the main trail past the large red building and through the campground. You will walk along the sandstone shore, and if the tide is out, the white rocky beach is home to tide pools along the narrow channel, with Protection Island just on the other side.

Continuing past the campground following Shoreline Trail and but just before Kanaka Bay, make a quick left to the airshaft, you will find a large steel tank sitting on top of a deep airshaft, remnants from the coal mines that once were active under the island.

Next head to Kanaka Bay a sandy beach located on a small cove. And if you are camping on the island and an early riser, this beach makes a wonderful sunrise experience.

A stunning sunrise view over Kanaka Bay a rocky beach with driftwood. The sky is filled with orange and pink hues, reflecting on the calm water.

From this point on, the trail narrows, passing Angle and McKay Point, and takes you to a shelter at Giovando Lookout with views of the Georgia Strait. At this point, some hills come into play as you climb up around Tyne Point, giving you a view of Saltery Beach.  

This area was home to one of the Snuneymuxw Villages and later to the Japanese Herring Salteries & Shipyards. If you are here in the morning, look for the famous white raccoon. These nocturnal creatures use the low tides to pick clams and other creatures from the rocks.

Newcastle Island Viewpoint: A wooden railing along a cliffside overlooking Roga beach and calm waters. Trees and vegetation grow along the edge, with a view of houses in the distance.

Next is Midden Bay, where you can find an abandoned mine shaft and washrooms; the trail breaks off to allow exploration of the interior of the Island to check out Mallard Lake, a man-made lake built as a freshwater source for the 100’s of people living on the island during the industrial era. But for this walk, the goal is to walk the perimeter of the Island as we head down Channel Trail to the quarry.

Newcastle Quarry: A scenic view of a forest with large moss-covered rocks and trees. The area is lush and green with a dirt path winding through the landscape.

The Sandstone quarry operated for 60 years, becoming the building blocks for many stone buildings around Vancouver Island, the West Coast, and the US. Now, the quarry is overgrown, making it an intriguing place to explore the piles of rocks. The hollowed-out hillside offers a different landscape from other parts of the island.

If you want to say you walked around the whole island, you need to head out to Bate Point, the home of the Newcastle Island Park Sign, as it opens up at the southernmost point of the island with views of the Nanaimo Harbour and the boats moored for the day. 

Following the trail around Mark Bay, wander back to the public docks. You will pass the pulp stone quarry. This area is fenced off, but you can see the equipment used and the perfectly round flintstone-looking wheels cut out of the sandstone used to crush tree fibres into pulp for the paper mills.

Biking On Newcastle Island

A detailed map showing hiking, biking and easy trails, landmarks, and amenities on Saysutshun Newcastle Island. The map includes distances for various hiking routes and highlights features such as campgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic viewpoints.Not all trails on Newcastle Island can be accessed by bike. Mallard Lake Trail, Kanaka Bay Trail, and Shoreline Trail are all marked as biking trails, as seen here in green.

You can bring peddle bikes (not electric) on the ferry, and Jeff’s rental store on the island has options for bikes and kayaks during the summer season.

Camping

With no cars or predators on the island, the campground offers a quiet, peaceful camping experience close to the city. 18 campsites are a five-minute walk from the docks, and carts are available to help get your gear to your site if needed. The area has a playground, horseshoe pits, food concession, potable water, flush toilets and pit toilets and even hot showers.

A camping site with a pitched tent, a picnic table, and a fire pit. The area is surrounded by trees and greenery.

The campground is in the same area as one of the original Snuneymuxu villages. During the herring season, the villagers would paddle out in the narrow straight between the two islands and gather herring, filling their canoes. Now, the narrow straight is a great place to view tide pools, swim and paddle.

The campground also offers group campsites and group picnic sites for day use.

Booking is done online through BC Park’s online reservation system which is listed as Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park – It’s recommended to book ahead. 

A long red building with a white railing and steps, set among tall trees. There is a sign advertising ice cream in front of the building.

Food/Concession

The Saysutshun Concession opens in Late June and operates until early September. It offers classic burgers, fries and breakfast sandwiches daily from 9:00 am 7:00 pm. They also have a selection of beers and ice cream.  Menu 

Raccoons

In order to prevent raccoons from becoming a nuisance, please follow these important guidelines:

  • Do not feed raccoons.
  • Be aware that raccoons will become aggressive when approached or cornered.
  • Never take food inside tents.
  • Store all food, including toothpaste, in the food lockers.
  • Dispose of all garbage immediately.
  • Ensure your boat is secure to prevent raccoons from getting food from your vessel.
  • Remember that Newcastle Island is home to many species of animals and provides plenty of natural vegetation for all its inhabitants.

A ferry named "Grey Selkie" approaching a dock in Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo. The ferry is black and green, and the water is calm with a clear blue sky in the background.

Ferry Information

Parking: Hourly and overnight paid parking is located in Maffeo Sutton Park

Ferry operates May 15September 15th

  •     Ferries run every 30 minutes and it takes 10 minutes to get to Newcastle Island
  •     Payment debit or credit preferred
  •     Bikes are allowed with an extra charge
  •     Fairs include a return to Nanaimo
  •    The dock is located at Maffeo Sutton Park Here
  •     Animals welcome with a nominal fee

Ferry Info

Book the ferry online 

Limited wheelchair access: The ferries do not have ramps, which restricts accessibility for wheelchairs.

Boaters & Kayakers

  • Pull-out of kayaks and vessels for an overnight stay is permitted only on the south end of the park, near the ferry dock on the developed beach.
  • Mooring buoy and dock facility use fees apply throughout the winter. The maximum length of stay is 14 days per calendar year.
  • 43 new mooring buoys have been installed in Mark Bay. There are two types of mooring buoys as follows:
    • Those for boats 30 feet in length overall or less
    • those for boats 40 feet in length overall or less
  • Moorage info

 

Newcastle Island History Timeline

Pre-1850: Known to the Snuneymuxw people as Saysutshun Island, it was used as a place of healing and a source of food; there were two villages set up where Snuneymuxw people lived throughout the late winter and early spring in order to take advantage of the annual herring run. One near Midden Bay and the other facing Protection Island

1850 – Native chief Ki’et’sa’kun shared the location of an abundance of coal when said to have seen a blacksmith using coal in his fire. He brought a sample back in exchange for goods. Unknown to him at the time was how important this quality of coal was to the British.

1852 – The Hudson Bay Company established two coal mines. At first, they employed local First Nations and British citizens, but soon, the island was taken over by experienced minors brought over from Britain. The Snuneymuxw soon abandoned their villages, and the island was renamed Newcastle Island, after the famous coal town in Northern England.

1862 – The Hudson Bay Company sold the island to the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company

1869 – Sandstone quarries, looking for high-quality sandstone for a new building, Joseph Emery from the United States Mint found the quality and colour he was looking for on Newcastle Island and signed a five-year lease with the Vancouver Coal Mining Company. Many other companies sought leases on the island to cut its sandstone, which has been used in building penitentiaries, courthouses, banks, and churches.

1883 – During the 31 years in operations, the coal mines reached out underneath channels to Protection Island and towards Nanaimo the last Coal mines were closed up in 1883

1900 – In the early 1900s, the Japanese established a small settlement just north of Shaft Point on the west side of the island and operated a fish salteries and shipyard.

1923 – Pulp stones were 1800-kilogram rock wheels that were an important grinding element in the pulp and paper industry. The McDonald Cut-stone Company established a pulp stone operation with the finished stones being shipped to mills across North America.

1931 – the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company purchaed the island and operated it as a pleasure resort, they ran a floating hotel and ships from Vancouver brought people over as many as 1,500 people at a time. the visitor centre was once the dance pavilion, and the only building to survive the resort area, it was restored in 1984

1932 – Sandstone Quarry and Pulp Stone Quarry closed down

1941 – Fish salteries and shipyards closed down when all Japanese-Canadians who lived along the coast were sent to internment camps during WW2. This was also the downturn of the pleasure resort as boats and supplies where used for the war efforts.

1955 – CPR sells the land to Nanaimo 

1960 – The city of Nanaimo struggles with maintenance and cost and sells the land to the Provincial government

1960 – Development began to to make Newcastle Island into a class Provincial Park although a master plan was never put in place by the British Columbia Government

1983 – The City of Nanaimo created a plan with the goal of suggesting development ideas that would “provide the people of BC and particularly the Nanaimo area, a range of year-round recreation, historic, and natural history opportunities” and “to protect and develop the ability of the natural and cultural resources of the park to provide such opportunities in perpetuity.” Many of this committee’s ideas and suggestions were carried out,

2021 – The BC park was renamed Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park to acknowledge its first inhabitants and is now operated by the Sanuneymuxw First Nation

Life At the Beach - Gear Ideas

surf poncho
Wetsuit Changing Bath Robe - Quick Dry Beach Towel with Hood
yeti hopper filp
YETI Hopper Flip Cooler
waterproof fanny pack
Waterproof Phone Pouch With Strap
watershoes
Water Shoes Mens and Womens
YETI Rambler
YETI Rambler Jug With MagCap
spike ball
Spikeball - Game for the Beach, Backyard or Park

Vancouver Island boasts an array of sandy beaches that line the ocean or freshwater lakes. Plan ahead and bring appropriate gear for your next beach excursion.

Photos:

travelodge parksville
breakfast-coffee-and-croissant-icon-single
swimming-pool-icon-single
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
pet-dog-friendly-icon-single
Located just steps from the Strait of Georgia on Vancouver Island, Tr...
Best Western Northgate
patio-outdoor-space-icon-single
kitchen-icon-single
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
breakfast-coffee-and-croissant-icon-single
Offered daily, breakfast at Best Western Northgate includes waffles, ...
Courtyard by Marriott Nanaimo
swimming-pool-icon-single
food icon
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
hot-tub-icon-single
Featuring a shared lounge, bar and views of city, Courtyard by Marrio...
NeckPoint Treasure BnB
outdoor-seating-patio-icon-single
desk-work-station-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
he property has mountain and garden views, and is 10 km from Newcastl...

FAQ:

How do I get to Newcastle Island?
During the summer months, a small ferry will take you from Nanaimo’s Maffeo Sutton Park to the island. During the off-season, the only access is by paddling or private boat.

What activities are available on the island?
Newcastle Island offers a variety of activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, picnicking, camping, wildlife viewing, and exploring historical sites.

Are there any amenities on the island?
The island has a restaurant, play areas, restrooms and picnic areas.

Can I camp on Newcastle Island?
Yes, camping is available on the island. There are well-maintained campgrounds, but it’s best to make reservations in advance, especially during peak season.

What wildlife can I expect to see?
Newcastle Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, deer, and raccoons. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for wildlife viewing.

Are pets allowed on the island?
Pets are allowed on Newcastle Island but must be kept on a leash at all times. Make sure to clean up after your pet and respect the natural environment.

Can I rent equipment on the island?
Yes, rental services are available for kayaks and paddleboards.

Are there guided tours available?
Yes, guided tours are available and provide a great way to learn about the island’s history and natural features. You can check availability here.

What are the operating hours of the ferry?
The ferry operates daily with frequent trips, but hours may vary depending on the season. Generally, Ferry opens May 15- September 15th and run every 30 minutes and it takes 10 minutes to get to

Is there an entrance fee for Newcastle Island?
There is no entrance fee for the island itself, but there is a fare for the ferry ride.

Vancouver Island Guides & Maps
snorkelling Adventures Vancouver Island
Snorkelling Adventures Around Vancouver Island
lonely planet
Vancouver & Victoria - Lonely Planet
adventure road map
Vancouver Island Folded Map
Back road maps
Backroad Map - Vancouver Island

Discover new places and find your way around Vancouver Island. Many areas do not have cell service so maps and guidebooks can be very helpful for the curious.

Experience The Area
Vancouver to Nanaimo Day Tour 1
Start at the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver and when in Nanaimo vis...
6d
An exciting adventure in the Salish Sea departing from Nanaimo, dis...
big tree coastal adventure 2
If you’re looking to explore Vancouver Island’s wild west coast wit...
Reel Time Fishing Charters catch
affordable trip options, a captain with more than 2 decades of expe...
DISCOVER MORE
the best spots directly in your inbox

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Did we miss something?
Have more to add?

Original Author:

Modified: June 12, 2024
Last Visit: September 6, 2023
Cranberry Arms Pub and Hotel
kitchen-icon-single
The property is around 9.1 km from Wildplay Element Park, 10 km from ...
The Tides Inn
BBQ-barbeque-icon-single
pet-dog-friendly-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
Located on West Island Highway, Tide's Inn provides free Wi-Fi. A gar...
Courtyard by Marriott Nanaimo
swimming-pool-icon-single
food icon
exercise-weights-gym-icon-single
hot-tub-icon-single
Featuring a shared lounge, bar and views of city, Courtyard by Marrio...
Beach Suites
kitchen-icon-single
camping-icon-wifi
pet-dog-friendly-icon-single
Beach Icon
200 metres from Parksville Beach and each unit is fitted with a fully...

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! 

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. 

Submit a change suggestion:

max of 4 images
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email