Kayak Camping in the Gulf Islands – Prevost Island

Chart view of Prevost Island with route from Ganges.

Chart view of Prevost Island with route from Ganges.

Prevost Island

In this series of world-class kayaking and camping destinations in the southern Gulf Islands within easy day paddling from Salt Spring Island I now take you to Prevost Island. This is another kayaking trip that can start from a number of launch sites on Salt Spring. As with Portland Island one option is to begin your trip from Ganges Harbour. This route as shown in the image to the left meanders across the harbour and out along the Chain Islets towards the mouth of Long Harbour (Beware of advancing ferries) across Captain Passage to the designated portion of the island that is now part of the Gulf Islands Marine Park Reserve in James Bay.

Rounding Scott Pt. and heading to Ganges from Prevost Island. Photo by Dave Barnes

Rounding Scott Pt. and heading to Ganges from Prevost Island.
Photo by Dave Barnes

There are a pair of launch sites in and near Ganges. One is adjacent to Island Escapades Outfitter at Gasoline Alley where you will find ample parking and a fairly easy launch at higher tides as this spot becomes a shallow mudflat. The other starting point is across the harbour at the end of Churchill Road. There is some room for parking but respect local residents. The beach access is simple enough with a set of concrete steps but you might find the railing troublesome. This is a rocky pebble beach with a straight view into the Chain Islets. This location avoids the need to cross a bay that is busy with boat and float plane traffic in the summer months. The third option for launching is deep in Long Harbour at Quebec Drive or Ontario Place and both sites offer good parking and beach. If travelling up Long Harbour keep in mind the ferry schedule, this also applies as the Ganges to Prevost route also requires crossing the Long Harbour/Tsawwassen arrival and departure path. Long Harbour is an excellent route for the novice paddler with the only challenge being the crossing to Prevost.

Paddling out of Long Harbour towards Prevost Island. Photo by Dave Barnes

Paddling out of Long Harbour towards Prevost Island.
Photo by Dave Barnes

No matter what point you begin your kayaking trip to Prevost Island the crux will be the crossing from Nose Point on Salt Spring to Shelby Point on Prevost. In between, a fair amount of boat traffic and a potential of tidal rips closer to Shelby Pt. These rips are more likely to occur at the lower end of the ebb and easily avoided by taking a wider birth around the point.

Once entering James Bay you will see the light marker on your left at Peile Point. Follow the shore enjoying the view of eagles, and anchored boats deeper in the bay. The designated camping is in the heritage orchard of apple trees. The landing much like in Ganges can be formidable at lower tide levels with sandal sucking mud. Camping is abundant so find a spot in the tall grass or under an apple tree. This is a typical location for local kayaking tour groups so expect company, if not by fellow paddlers, by the local deer population who are unflappable at the presence of humans. In fall, they will be hunting for fallen apples.

A deer looking for windfall apples near my tent in James Bay. Photo by Dave Barnes

A deer looking for windfall apples near my tent in James Bay.
Photo by Dave Barnes

Morning light may take some time to reach your camp in the pasture but the sunsets are amazing. A trail from the campground out to Peile Point rounds the bottom of the bay and up the slopes on the other side. From atop the ridge, and bring a bottle of wine and some snacks because it is warm and worth it.

A hike up the ridge opposite the camping area offers a lovely place to take in a sunser over Salt Spring Island. Photo by Dave Barnes

A hike up the ridge opposite the camping area offers a lovely place to take in a sunset over Salt Spring Island.
Photo by Dave Barnes

If you plan to stay for a couple of days a circumnavigation of Prevost Island is a great day trip. Follow the prevailing tides as the channel on the northeast side of the island has some minor currents and will give you a nice ride from Peile Pt. towards the Hawkins Islets. Here is where you will begin to feel some current that will take you to Richardson Bay around Portlock Point. A perfect lunch break location after a short hike to the lighthouse.

After that, head to the Red Islets, part of the Reserve but out-of-bounds as they are home to delicate plant life. Round Liddell Point and into Captain Passage following the shoreline to Acland Island and later the hidden (or not so hidden) cottages of Secret Island. Returning to your cosy camp with a mind to the currents again in about four and a half to five hours.

The ample camping means James Bay is a perfect location for larger kayaking tours. Photo by Dave Barnes

The ample camping means James Bay is a perfect location for larger kayaking tours.
Photo by Dave Barnes

Prevost may not have lots to offer in the way of hiking as Portland Island does but camping under apple trees with deer wandering around is outstanding. With plenty of coves, bays and beaches Prevost Island will keep you busy during your stay, or just pull out your sleeping mat and snooze under an apple tree!

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