Visiting Gulf Islands National Park Reserve will be different than previous years. Be prepared, and know what is open and closed before you go.
Where to stay
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve campgrounds are open every year from May 15 to September 30. All frontcountry campgrounds are closed for the off-season (October 1 - May 14). Backcountry campgrounds are accessible year round but are not regularly maintained from October 1 – May 14. Visitors may use them at their own risk.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve offers a wide variety of camping experiences, including frontcountry, backcountry and overnight boat camping options! To see where each of these is located, download our Visitor Guide.
Note: You must be 19 years of age to reserve a campsite. All minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve offers a variety of camping opportunities for families, backpackers, kayakers and boaters. If you have never been camping before, frontcountry camping (car camping) is a good way to start.
SMONEĆTEN (McDonald) Campground is an excellent base of operations for exploring both the Gulf Islands and the Greater Victoria area, for campers, RVers, and cyclists.
There is a short walking trail on the western side of the campground, providing hiking opportunities that link to other local trails outside of the national park reserve.
Boat accessible front country campgrounds:
Located at the north end of Sidney Island, this popular family-friendly destination is accessible by boat or kayak. The park offers sandy beaches, wooded trails and an abundance of birds and marine life.
For a rugged, back-to-nature experience, we offer a wide variety of backcountry campsites throughout the Southern Gulf Islands. At backcountry campsites in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, you will find:
- Tent pads, platforms or open field campsites
- Pit or composting toilets
- Picnic tables (all sites except James Bay on Prevost Island)
- Beach access
- No potable water – bring enough for you and your party
No campfires are permitted in the backcountry (including below the high tide mark)
Campgrounds with reservations:
Narvaez Bay is one of the most beautiful and undisturbed bays in the southern Gulf Islands. This area includes regenerating Douglas fir forest and Garry oak-arbutus ecosystems.
Beaumont is a beautiful 10-site waterfront campground accessible from the water as a paddle-in or as a hike-in campground. Shingle Bay has a rustic feel that only the best backcountry sites have, and it’s only a short walk from the parking lot, so it's also very accessible.
First-come first-served campgrounds:
Numerous coves, cobble beaches and a forest of arbutus and Douglas fir.
The marshes and stands of Garry oak, arbutus and coastal Douglas fir on Cabbage and nearby Tumbo and Saturna Islands are some of the most intact wetland and vegetation communities remaining on the Gulf Islands.
The island is popular with kayakers who stop overnight on multi-day paddling trips, but plan to arrive early in the day as there are a limited number of campsites (3).
James Bay Campground is only accessible by water, and is popular with kayakers. There are no tent pads in this open field style camping area.
Princess Margaret (Portland) Island
Portland Island features three backcountry campgrounds linked by hiking trails. The island was once the site of a First Nations village, but now the shell midden beaches encircling the island are the most visible reminder of their presence.