Salt Spring Island is a paddling Mecca with world-class scenic views and ample opportunity to witness marine life and birds. I have lived here most of my life and I can say, the kayaking is good! My backyard waters are always a pleasure to paddle at anytime of year, and the islands that surround Salt Spring are just a short hop away. One of the closest is Wallace Island. It is located in Trincomali Channel, which is the body of water separating Salt Spring Island and Galiano Island and is a hot location for boaters as well as paddlers. The crossing from Salt Spring is usually calm unless the wind is up and then the channel can get, ‘bumpy’. For the most part, this is a fine paddle for novice kayakers as the distance to Wallace is short from Hudson Point just north of Fernwood Dock, or from a second launch site at Southey Point which is at the northern tip of Salt Spring.
These two launch points offer different approaches to Wallace. Leaving from Hudson Point, a public boat ramp on North Beach Rd. just north of Fernwood allows a mid to low tide access to enough shell beach to easily unload and load kayaks and gear. Parking is limited as it is a popular put-in for sports fishers as well. Leaving from this beach head straight across to Wallace and you will see a red buoy to your left as a good landmark. For those sporting a deck compass it is virtually a north/south crossing. Once at Wallace’s shores take your pick of back or front sides, but on those sunny days there is no question as to which side to travel.
Leaving from Southey Point offers a different paddling experience as you will pass Jackscrew Island first so keep an eye out for totem poles. Also you will be watched by seals, and you thought you were the one watching them. As always with encountering wildlife please remember they live there. As tempting as it might be to get a closer look, try to steer a wide berth from sunbathing seals. They are skittish and will dive back into the water. Think how you would like a cold bucket of water tossed on you if you were sunbathing. In about 40 minutes you will arrive at Chivers Point and the camping area.
Wallace Island is picturesque with a multitude of small coves and bays. Arbutus trees over-hang the featured rocky shore of the side facing Salt Spring. It takes a little over an hour for me to round the entire island. From your kayak you will be able to see seals and eagles, ravens swooping overhead and a mink or two. On the backside of the island facing Galiano Island you may get a peek at a small colony of river otters as they fish and play in the kelp and shallows. I have noticed that no one ever mentions the raccoons in any of the tourist info about the islands. Wallace has raccoons and they will try to get into your belongings especially your food, so be mindful and tuck it away in closed kayak hatches or better yet, hang it in a tree.
Camping is available at Chivers Point accessed by a small pebble beach that can disappear entirely at higher tides. Make sure you secure your kayaks. It is not wilderness camping at all. Tent pads, both pea-gravel and raised wooden platforms are provided. Each has a picnic table and a short walk up the trail will take you to an outhouse. On the Salt Spring side you will paddle by Conover Cove if coming from Hudson Pt. where you will find anchorages and a dock. The remains of the old resort (http://www.dconover.com/default.htm) still stand and you may wish to pitch a tent on the grass.
However, a favorite spot for my wife and I paddled to is Cabin Bay. Facing the cliffs of Galiano Island this campsite is limited to two pads that are nearly overlapping. Good for a close-knit paddling group. This site loses its light earlier in the evening than at Chivers Pt. but is secluded and quiet. A steep hike up to the main trail will take you to an outhouse near-by and the bay is accessed by a small cove.
While on the island it is worth the time to hike the trail that runs the entire length of Wallace. The terrain is easy to moderate and well-marked and takes you past the remains of orchards and the resort with plenty of spots to sit and contemplate nature.
A short paddle from Salt Spring Island, Wallace Island provides a unique getaway to the recreational kayaker as a terrific day paddle excursion or for the camper plenty of sight-seeing both on foot and from the kayak. Don’t forget to explore the nearby Secretary Islands and keep and eye peeled for those playful seals.