Discover the beaches of Parksville-Qualicum Beach! Sponsored by Ron & Peggy Mehan
Jill Davies – Special to The News
The simple solitude of Buccaneer Beach
In high summer, when the popular sandy beaches are busy and fun-filled with happy holiday-makers, Buccaneer Beach will amply reward those who travel the extra distance to seek out this remote and beautiful place.
Buccaneer Beach sits just north of Bowser, some 3 kms from the highway. Parking is very limited and so the steep winding lane that leads down between the trees to the bay may be best hiked. Once at the bottom of the hill, the wide curve of the bay unfolds and from the road it is just a short step over or around the inevitable log on to the beach.
On this hot Sunday afternoon the beach was almost deserted. The incoming sea lapped against the rocks, the smell of salt and seaweed in the air. A few gauzy white clouds drifted across the blue sky. Nearby a bird called from the woodland that grows down to the foreshore.
The seashore is bound first by shingle and small pebbles with occasional patches of course sand. There is a wide strip of dry seaweed and then tennis ball sized pebbles. Beyond these there are huge smooth boulders that invite kids of all ages to clamber and explore.
With the tide low, the curve of the bay northwards beckoned exploration. A broad ribbon of brilliant green and mossy seaweed evidenced the Whitman Creek seeping from beneath the stones into one of two wide tidal pools that quickly were merged into one by the incoming tide
To the north and close by lie the islands of Denman and Hornby and in the foreground there is a clear view of the pretty red and white Chrome Island Lighthouse. Further south, almost lost in the heat haze, are the islands of Lasqueti and Texada and further still, the distant coastal mountains. Across the sparkling water, seen as distant dots, were numbers of small boats fishing way off shore.
For walkers this beach requires sturdy footwear. South along the curving shoreline of the upper beach you will eventually reach Bowser village. A walk to the north offers seclusion, peace and quiet.
Buccaneer Beach is definitely not for those wanting to build sandcastles. It is however a perfect place to come for a swim when the tide is high over the warm rocks. This is a place to bring an evening supper, a good book and perhaps a loved one to share this most peaceful retreat. For lovers of nature, seclusion and Oceanside beauty there may not be a finer place to pass some of the precious time that has been gifted to us all.
Who was on Buccaneer Beach?
Elizabeth Hillman says this place chose her!
Elizabeth Hillman, one-time director and curator of the Dawson Creek Art Gallery retired to Bowser with husband and musician Arden. Now they live high above the bay and love to walk the beach through the seasons. On this day they were swimming their four legged companion Doctorie in a pool that at low tide was freshwater and salt. Said Arden, ‘It was time to get away from the snow! We’ve been here now for 18 years’. Elizabeth said, ‘This place chose us. We love the solitude here. The air is fresh; we watch the colours change through the seasons. Just look at that delicious turquoise strip where the beach drops deep into the ocean. It is serene here and oh so majestic’.
Sandy McLary was walking her German Shepherd with niece Bethany Naylor on vacation
Sandy McLary was walking her German Shepherd with niece Bethany Naylor while on vacation from Canmore.
from Canmore. Said Sandy, ‘I live here by the beach. This is home and I walk here every day’. Added Bethany, “I keep coming back. I just love the ocean’.
What might you see there in high summer?
Fir, maple, arbutus, alders and Garry oak provide summer shade along the foreshore. Though the wild flowers are shriveling now in the summer heat, among the dune grass the purple flowers of the Beach Pea and broad headed White Yarrow can still be glimpsed. Attracting attention by their distinctive trill were Killdeer feeding among the rocks at the water’s edge. Offshore we spotted a small flock of Harlequin ducks. Terns and gulls abound. Bald eagles nest in the high trees. In the woodland, crows call back and forth while the graceful profile of a heron returning to its nest on a summer evening is always a joy to observe.
In the tidal pools are sculpins and other small fish, hermit crabs, starfish and a variety of marine creatures.
Directions to Buccaneer Beach:
- Approx. 1 km. from Bowser travelling north look for a clearly signed right turn to Jamieson Road.
- Follow Jamieson approx. 1 km, nearly to the end and turn right onto Maple Guard Drive.
- After approximately 0.5 km look out for the narrow winding Buccaneer Beach Road (No Exit)
- Follow the lane for approx. 200 m. as it winds down between the wooded banks
- There are two small parking areas between the trees behind the beach, each with room for only two cars!
- Consider parking on Maple Guard Drive and walking to and from the beach
- There is a small strip of grass between the road and the beach.
- On the road side there is a bench and on the beach someone has thoughtfully left two white wooden Adirondack chairs. Both are options for those who want to enjoy the view without clambering over the loose sand, shingle, stones and boulders
Moss Park: For those wanting to explore further, Moss Park is just a short distance:
- From Jamieson at .5 km turn left on to Bald Eagle Crescent then left again on to Blue Heron Drive, Turn right onto Lighthouse Drive and right again onto Ocean Trail.
- At the end of Ocean Trail is a small grassy park with a crafted sign for Moss Park. Follow with care the steep dirt trail down through the forested ravine for approx. 100 m. to the sea shore.
- The panorama of islands change again with close views of the Chrome Lighthouse
- Sunscreen, sunhats and sun glasses on warm sunny days,
- Sturdy footwear suitable for clambering over rocks and pebbles; beach shoes
- At high tide, swim suits and towels
- Water, beverages, a picnic or snacks
- Binoculars, camera, sketchbook; sea shore and birding guides