newcastle island newcastle island

Newcastle Island: 7 Incredible Facts You Must Know for an Unforgettable Experience

Are you a person who takes an interest in multiple fun activities like picnics, hiking, biking, and cultural history? If your answer is ‘Yes,’ then Newcastle Island will be your perfect vacation spot.

From hiking trails and picnic areas to an adventure playground, Newcastle Island has everything a fun-loving and curious person can crave.

Newcastle Island is a small island located on the east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. This small island includes historic sites, natural history, peace, and serenity.

This article will act as a brief guide that will provide an elaborate idea about this fabulous little island, which is also famously known as Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park or Saysutshun Newcastle Island Provincial Park.

1. Things to Do

Exploring Newcastle Island can be a fun and adventurous experience. You can enjoy a ferry service to the island and explore the gravel beaches and walking trails. Suppose you are a nature and animal lover.

In that case, it is good for you to know that Newcastle Island has a variety of wildlife, which includes animals like albino raccoons, Canadian geese, and many other unique species of animals.

Fun activities like hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, group campsites, and corporate picnics are all available on Newcastle Island, which makes this place an ideal spot for a vacation. Newcastle Island Provincial Park has 18 walk-in campsites within walking distance of a few minutes from the island’s ferry dock.

During the summer, several programs are held in this island park, including slide shows, guided walks, children’s programs, and many more. If all these pieces of information are insufficient, keep reading cause there are more.

2. Foot Passenger Ferry

Newcastle Island visitors can catch a ferry that offers an exquisite ride amid the majestic coastal mountains and small harbor city.

So, don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful scenic beauty of the place. This foot-passenger ferry runs between Maffeo Sutton Park and Newcastle Island Provincial Park at intervals of half an hour.

Newcastle Island - Nanaimo, BC

The passengers cannot carry heavy vehicles like motorized wheelchairs, scooters, e-bikes, trikes, or bikes. The passengers are encouraged to bring their pedal bikes or camping equipment, but these additional items are charged a nominal price.

This ferry service between Maffeo Sutton Park and Newcastle Island is pet friendly, and therefore, you can share your joyous trip with your canine companion. If you plan to travel in groups, you must know that the ferry offers reservations for 12 people only.

This small ferry for passengers is called Stuywut. The ferry owned by Snuneymuxw First Nation is also known as The Grey Selkies, and it can support 40 passengers at a time.

The ferry service has a no-charge policy for toddlers and infants. It charges $12 for senior citizens, $15 for adults and kids above 13 years of age; the ferry service charges $7 for kids under 12 years, $5 for each bicycle, $5 for pets, and $2 for each extra equipment and supplies.

3. History of Newcastle Island

Newcastle Island Marine Park

A long time ago, before European contact, this island was inhabited by various indigenous people like the Snuneymuwx and Coast Salish, who performed various kinds of ethnic tasks during the late winter and early spring.

Newcastle Island remained the cultural and spiritual hub for these people throughout history. During the 1800s, when the Europeans started using this island for the coal mining industry, all the Salish buildings were gradually abandoned.

While mining, the industrialists came across a giant reserve of unique and premium quality sandstone quarries that can be used for architectural purposes in Canada and other countries.

With all these new flourishing business opportunities amid the natural scenic beauty, the Canadian Pacific Railway envisioned this island as a vacation ground for tourists. Since then, this island has been used as a shipyard, a fish salting operation plant, a sandstone quarry, and a luxurious pleasure resort.

4. Canadian Pacific Steamship Company

Suppose you seek a place to spend your time in leisure and luxury. In that case, Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park provides you with a luxurious pleasure resort that the Canadian Pacific steamship company runs.

In 1931, the Canadian Pacific steamship company bought this island under the Canadian Pacific Railway and turned it into a pleasure resort for the rich. This resort has everything a person needs to experience pleasure and luxury.

It has picnic areas with picnic tables, a built-in dance pavilion, a wading pool, change houses, a teahouse, and even a soccer field.

Later, the company anchored a large ship at the dock of Mark Bay, which was used as a floating hotel to accommodate renowned and prominent guests. This floating hotel is of immense historical value as many princesses, namely Princess Elizabeth, Princess Victoria, and Princess Joan, have made their stay at this resort.

5. Excellent Adjoining Commercial Facilities

Suppose you are fond of shopping or planning to buy souvenirs for your friends and family. In that case, you can go to the nearby city of downtown Nanaimo, which is only 6 minutes away from Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park.

Also, this small city is a great destination for birdwatching. This scenic city on the east coast of Vancouver Island can add extra recreational opportunities for Newcastle Island visitors.

Nanaimo’s municipal water system supplies cold water throughout the park, Saysutshun. These water lines are kept in regular check. However, the water line is cut off during the off-season.

6. Group Campsites

Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park offers five group campsites that can accommodate nearly 50 guests and 18 walk-in campsites. The island also provides additional camping services, which include flush toilets, hot showers, food lockers, etc.

While camping, the visitors must not forget that Newcastle Island is inhabited by a large population of raccoons who can end up stealing an unattended snack. So, tourists must not forget to protect food from these creatures.

The flush toilet building is present at the entrance of the park, which is nearly 50 meters from the dock. In the toilet building, the hot showers can be operated with coins.

Other than all these facilities, Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park campgrounds have an adventure playground for children, a swimming beach, a finely pruned grassy area for group games, horseshoe pits, etc. The campground sites near the forests provide extra thrill and adventure.

7. Lakes and Bays

Newcastle Island is known for its Mallard Lake.

Other than this specific destination, Newcastle Island is famous for several beautiful bays and points, which include Kanaka Bay, Brownie Bay, Midden Bay, and points like Bate Point, Shaft Point, Tyne Point, Nares Point, McKay Point, and Angel Point.

Each of these places has a specialty of its own, which will pique the interest of tourists while exploring Newcastle Island.

7.1 Kanaka Bay

Situated in the north of downtown Nanaimo, Kanaka Bay has everything that an adventure lover can crave. If you have a fondness for natural and scenic beauty, then you can enjoy the beauty of Mallard Lake, located on the west of Kanaka Bay.

Those fond of hiking can also hike to Kanaka Bay using the Kanaka Trail Loop and Shoreline Trail.

During the summer, Kanaka Bay is open for all the fun activities as it offers a swimming beach where you can enjoy water sports like kayaking, snorkeling, and many more.

Kanaka Bay can also be a fun place for those who wish to experience paranormal or ghostly occurrences. There is a ghost story about Kanaka Bay.

The Ghost of Newcastle Island

A long time ago, a Hawaiian Islander named Peter Kanaka came to Nanaimo harbor with the help of the Hudson Bay Company. It is believed that he murdered four people and was sentenced to be hanged.

He spent the few remaining days of his life in Nanaimo Bastion, and after his death, Peter Kanaka was buried in an unmarked grave of Kanaka Bay. So, if you are courageous enough and wish to have scary goosebumps at night, go camping at Kanaka Bay.

7.2 Mallard Lake Trail

Mallard Lake trail is an easy hiking trail with an elevation of 180 meters and a moderately lengthy path of 1.4 miles.

The timespan to cover this hiking trail is generally 1 to 1.5 hours. Visitors with a pet will be happy to know that Mallard Lake trail allows tourists to bring their pets if they are kept on a leash properly.

The trail leads the hikers to the shores of Mallard Lake, which has a pleasant scenic beauty. The place is family-friendly but offers no backcountry campsite.

In Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, the crowd level is low, making it an ideal spot to enjoy peace and serenity amid the woodlands of Mallard Lake.

The months between April and October are the best time to visit this spot as the weather is ideal during this time of the year, and the beauty of this place remains at its peak.

7.3 Brownie Bay

Brownie Bay
Photo by Lyle Wilkinson. Copyright 2023.

Brownie Bay is probably the smallest bay on Newcastle Island. Located on the eastern coast of Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park, this place is ideal for camping. Proper washrooms are available near the campsites.

If you are looking for fun activities other than camping, you can go swimming at Brownie Bay, famous for its pebble beaches, or bike through the shoreline trail of the bay. The footpath south of this bay will lead you to the cafe, pavilion, and barbeque shelter near Mark Bay.

7.4 Midden Bay

Midden Bay is located on the Northwest coast of Newcastle Island. Besides biking trails, this spot is neither open for camping nor swimming. Flush toilets are available near Midden Bay for the convenience of the bikers.

Even though camping and swimming are not allowed in this place, the place is unique. This place is famous for mine shafts.

Coal mining began at this spot in 1852. The miners lacked modernized tools, and in the year 1862, the Fitzwilliam mine dropped a coal mining shaft for better access. This led to consecutive fatalities for two years. In 1874, a worker died due to the tunnel’s collapse.

In 1876, three workers died due to a methane gas explosion, and therefore, the mine shaft was shut down in 1880. While exploring Newcastle Island, you can spot this desolate mine shaft near Midden Bay.

At a 1 km distance to the North of Midden Bay, you can spot Giovando Lookout, located at the northernmost tip of Newcastle Island. This spot gives you a marvelous view of the Coast Mountains and the Strait of Georgia.

The Bottom Line

Hiking trails, biking trails, shoreline trails, historical sites, beaches, wildlife, and campsites make Newcastle Island a perfect spot for rest. Exploring Newcastle Island can be a fun experience.

The visitors can come across many abandoned resorts, totem pole sites, sea caves, mine shafts, and many more. Several interpretive signs are present in the park to provide better guidance to the visitors.

Newcastle Island can also be a beautiful venue for special occasions like wedding receptions. The scenic beauty and the natural setting will make the event memorable and filled with fun and adventure. The island also offers a luxurious pavilion hall, which was built in the year 1930 and has immense historic value.

It has a small stage, open-air shutters, antic lighting, and a rustic vaulted ceiling. Newcastle Island also offers shelter, a BBQ pit, and outdoor special event space for important and vibrant occasions.