Last week Jess and I camped on Denman Island for a couple of nights and brought our bicycles for a tour of Denman and Hornby Islands. Our base for the tour was Fillongley Provincial Park, a beachfront campsite on the east side of Denman. There are 10 camping spots at Fillongley which, while spartan in nature, fill up quickly. We were there midweek and it was full both nights. I would recommend reserving your campsite before you go to either of the islands as there aren’t many spots to camp and the private ones can be expensive or poor quality.
Denman Island is accessed by a ferry which leaves from Buckley Bay, about an hour north of Nanaimo. We arrived around mid-day and after setting up camp our first place to visit was Boyle Point Provincial Park. This park is on the southern tip of Denman Island, and has great views of the Chrome Island lighthouse and south down the Straight of Georgia. There is a short walking trail to get to the lookouts, and while the views are great there isn’t much else to do in this park.
In the evening we did some beachcombing at low tide back at our campsite, and were treated to a spectacular moon.
The next day we took our bicycles to Hornby Island, which is accessible by a short ferry ride from the terminal on the southeast side of Denman. We were only on Hornby for a day, and the two places we wanted to visit the most were Heliwell Provincial Park and Tribune Bay Provincial Park.
The bike to Heliwell Park goes along sleepy roads and pleasant dirt trails, which made for some relaxing riding. Once there, we took a loop trail through the old-growth forest on over the cliffs looking south and west. The park was beautiful and it was really neat to see the cliff formations. We saw some seals and birds during our walk around the park.
Our next stop was Tribune Bay, with its big sandy beach and supposed warm water. The beach was as advertised but the water was much colder than expected as it was low tide again. There were plenty of boats anchored in the bay, and there were lots of families out enjoying the sun but it wasn’t too busy. I imagine that on a weekend it would be a different story. We spent some time relaxing on the beach and in the water, before deciding to try a little more exploring by bicycle before heading back to Denman.
We headed towards Ford’s cove but seeing a huge hill down to get there, decided against it and instead visited the Little Tribune Winery. After tasting some whites and purchasing a bottle of Viognier, we made our way back to the ferry for another evening at Fillongley.
On our last day of the trip we did some walking on the trails in Fillongley and took the car to Morning Beach, a nice regional park on the northeast side of Denman which has beach access to Sandy Island Marine Park at low tide.
We enjoyed fantastic weather, tides and full moons on our trip. We preferred Hornby Island for biking, as it was more compact. We wished that we could have done some biking in Mount Geoffrey Escarpment Provincial Park, but with only one day on Hornby we ran out of time. Denman Island was a little too spread out and sleepy for our tastes, but it had some nice biking and walking trails as well.
All told, it was a great little trip, one I would recommend to anyone with a couple of free midweek days in the summer.