OCEANSIDE BEACHES - RATHTREVOR PROVINCIAL PARK
Rathtrevor is always spectacular with its broad expanse of sandy beach and far reaching views across the Salish Sea. Lasqueti Island sits to the North and to the South is MadronaPoint and North West Bay.
In the distance are numerous small Gulf islands and beyond lies Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. The soaring snowcapped peaks of the mainland coastal mountains provide the perfect backdrop.
This beach, in stormy weather sometimes seems desolate, but is transformed on warm summer days as locals and visitors alike come out to play on tranquil waters. The folding chairs and rugs, coolers and BBQ’s, moms, dads, grandparents and children are transported to the sandy shore. Lovers walk hand in hand; friends hike or run the trails; dogs are walked and cycles ridden.
Rathtrevor Provincial Park offers a sweeping expanse of beach – 5 kilometers of beachfront and at low tide up to a kilometer of flat sands. Woodland, trails and parkland are all bounded by majestic old forest growth. The water in June is warm as the tide rolls in across a sun warmed beach. In the shallow waters and tidal pools, there is a wealth of marine treasures to discover with small, darting fish, gardens of seaweed, shells, sand dollars and more.
On the beach the coarse sand is ideal for perfecting sand sculpting techniques while the shallow tidal pools are magnet for those mastering the intricacies of skim boarding
When planning your visit it is wise to check the tide tables. At low tide the water’s edge can be faraway whereas at high tide the beach for the most part is under water! Beware too that there is a point with the incoming tide when the water rolls in more quickly than might be expected. Then flip-flops and deck chairs are sometimes seen as they bob away on the wavelets!
For those who prefer grassy parkland and welcome summer shade, there are picnic tables and benches for BBQ’s in the meadow and grass on which to play.
Whether in the forest or on the beach, Rathtrevor has much to offer. The park provides the perfect canvas for artists and photographers; beachcombers have acres of sand on which to roam; walkers can hike the many trails through woodland or among banks of honeysuckle and sweetly scented wild roses. Runners loop through the park and cyclists ride to the beach and beyond. Rathtrevor is truly a park for everyone.
Nestled among the trees at the North end of the beach is a popular campsite within 5 minutes’ walk of the beach. In addition to the serviced campsites there are walk-in campsites together with designated facilities for group bookings. The park provides two adventure playgrounds close to the campsite. From the end of June to Labour Day booking is required. Information at www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/rathtrevor
What might you see there in June?
Rathtrevor is a delight for birdwatchers and observers of wildlife. Grazing deer, raccoons and squirrels can all be seen in the park. In the water there are harbour seals and occasionally distant dolphins or whales. In the early spring Rathtrevor Beach is a prime spot for observing the tenacious small Brant Geese as they pause in their migration north to feed off the annual herring spawn. In late May there was a pair of Bald Eagles and forest birds such as Towhees, White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Northwestern Crows. At the water’s edge was a Great Blue Heron; further out were Pacific Loons and overhead soared Glaucous and Mew Gulls.
Birder Terry Harrison said ‘Here you can expect surprises and unusual sightings together with the mundane’. She noted that a rare Western Grebe had been spotted as well as Marbled Murrelets in full breeding plumage.
Interpretative boards offer insights about the foreshore and coastal sand dunes with illustrations of oysters, cockle shells and clams. To help identify the profusion of wild flowers now in bloom there are pictures of the native Dune Tansy, Beach Pea, Entire Leaved Gumweed and rare Yellow Sand Verbena. Also to be seen are Dune grasses, Sea Rocket, and the poisonous Snowberry that bind the dunes and provide natural protection against winter storms and further erosion.
- From the Inland Island Hwy (19) exit #51 at Parksville turn on to Hwy 19a. At approx. 2.5 kms look out for the signs to the park and turn right. The entrance to the park is beside the Log Cabin Store.
- Leaving Parksville via the orange bridge, at approx. 0.6 km look out for the park signs. Turn left towards the Log Cabin Store.
- Turn right into Rath Rd and on down the hill for approx. 1 km. Just before the camp sight there is a right turn into the graveled parking lot. There is plenty of capacity even on a hot summer’s day. Please observe the 30 km/hr. speed restriction.
- Note that with increased summer usage the gravel quickly becomes full of pot-holes
- There are information boards, signs and easy trails leading to either end of the beach.
- There are plenty of clean and recently upgraded washrooms
- In the meadow close to the campsite there is a recently upgraded pavilion with a simple wash-up facility
- Dogs must be leashed and are not permitted on the beach from March to October. Signs clearly indicate the boundaries for dog walkers.
- There is no duty life-guard
- Parking only between 6 am – 11 pm
- Sunscreen and a book
- Rugs, beach chairs, sunshades
- Picnics, snacks and beverages
- For the kids, buckets and spades
- For beach lovers, balls, kites, frisbees, skim boards etc.
- Bathers, Beach shoes, towels and floaty toys
- Binoculars; cameras;
- Sea shore and birding guides
Written by Jill Davies – Sponsored by Ron & Peggy Mehan