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Saturna Island

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Saturna Island

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Saturna island is in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada. It is situated between Vancouver Island and the mainland, and is the most easterly of the Gulf Islands. Saturna Island is mountainous and approximately 31 sq. km. in size [1]. Approximately 44% of the island is a part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (GINPR) [2]. Gulf Islands National Park Reserve was formed in 2003 from from a gift of ecologically sensitive land by Ulla Ressner and John Fry, existing provincial parks, an Ecological Reserve, and other federal Crown land.
Map of the Southern Gulf Islands


Like many of the Gulf Islands, Saturna is short on fresh water, so water thriftiness is expected.


The island was first used by indigenous people who called the island "Long Nose," due to the island's long north-eastern tapering shoreline that ends at East Point. Saturna was explored by Spanish sailors and named in 1791 after their naval schooner, the Santa Saturnina, one of the ships in the Spanish expedition that explored the Strait of Georgia. The first European settlers arrived in the 1800s.


The highest peak on Saturna Island is Mount Warburton Pike at 497 metres. Mt. Warburton Pike (GINPR) is accessible by vehicle, and features panoramic views of the San Juan Islands and the Southern Gulf Islands.

Flora and fauna[edit]

  • Marine wildlife on the shores of Saturna includes seals, sea lions, river otters and tidal marine life. It is also common to see porpoises and the endangered orca whale in the waters off of East Point (GINPR).
  • Saturna Island is the perfect place for bird watching: over 180 species-- including ruby-throated hummingbirds, oyster catchers, bald eagles and great blue herons-- can be seen on Saturna Island.
  • At Mt. Warburton (GINPR), endangered Garry oak trees cling tenaciously to the shallow soil, while a large population of feral goats roams the island's south-facing cliffs.


In this area, daily temperatures rise above 30°C (86°F) on an average of one or two days per year and fall below -5°C (23°F) on an average of only 2 nights per year. During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are 8.2°C (47°F) and 3.6°C (38°F), respectively. The summer months are equally mild, with an average high temperature of 19.6°C (67°F) and low of 11.3°C (52°F).

This may seem like mild weather, but boaters and kayakers can feel very chilled especially if soaked by rain or waves. Hypothermia is a very real possibility.

Nearly two-thirds of the area's rainfall occurs between November and February, with July being the driest month on average. August and September frequently experience morning fogs.

Get in[edit]

Saturna is accessible by BC Ferries [3], by floatplane or by personal watercraft (there is a government wharf at the Lyall Harbour ferry landing and anchorage at Winter Cove).The ferry service varies with the season and the day of the week.


Fires are not permitted on Saturna during the summer months when the fire hazard is extreme. In the spring, fall and winter months, fire permits can be obtained at the General Store.

Get around[edit]

Kayak launching is best done at Lyall Harbour beach, at Thompson Community Park or at Winter Cove (GINPR). Boat Launches are located at Lyall Harbour beach and Winter Cove (GINPR).

See[edit][add listing]

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve offers incredible opportunities for boating, kayaking, hiking, wildlife viewing and picnicking. At Winter Cove an easy 1.5 km loop trail (25 minutes) takes you to the turbulent waters of Boat Pass, with views of the Strait of Georgia. After your walk, spread out your lunch on one of the many picnic tables, explore the pebble beach, or play a game of frisbee. At Lyall Creek, take a self-guided walk through 2km (1 way, 40 minutes) of lush temperate rainforest, or catch a Parks Canada Interpretive Program to learn more about efforts to restore one of the last salmon-bearing creeks in the Southern Gulf Islands. From the Narvaez Bay parking lot, take the trail up to the Monarch Head viewpoint. This strenous 2.5 km loop trail (1.5 hours) follows old logging roads, and features spectacular views of Boundary Pass. At East Point, keep your eyes peeled for seals and sea lions on Boiling Reef, and for porpoises and orca whales feeding in the nutrient-rich current of Boundary Pass. Learn about Saturna Island history at the Foghorn Alarm Building (FAB)[4], which is run by Saturna Heritage Committee volunteers in the summer months. And check out a special sunset Interpretive Program, led by one of the National Park Reserve's knowledgable interpreters. For more information about Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, call 1-866-944-1744.

Do[edit][add listing]

Saturna’s highlight event is the annual July 1st Canada Day Lamb Barbecue. The fundraiser began as a school picnic on the Campbells’ property in 1950 and, though it moved to Winter Cove (part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve) several years ago, it’s still running strong with an estimated 1,100 attendees last year. Many of the attendees are boaters who anchor in Winter Cove in the days leading up to the event. Several water-taxi charters shuttle visitors in and out from the Barbecue grounds on Canada day [5]. BC Ferries frequently runs an extra sailing on July 1st to accommodate the larger-than-average number of vehicle and foot passengers [6]. A shuttle service runs between the Lyall Harbour ferry terminal and the Lamb BBQ grounds on the day of the barbecue [7].

The 497-metre (1,630 foot) summit of Mount Warburton Pike is the trailhead of the Brown Ridge Trail to Taylor Point. Swimming areas include beaches at Veruna Bay, Thomson Park and East Point (GINPR). Taste the wines at the award-winning Saturna Island Vineyards.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There is a thriving arts culture on Saturna Island, with a yearly gallery tour and several galleries that are open daily in the summer months. A Saturday Market is held during the summer months at the General Store. This is an opportunity to purchase local crafts, baked goods, preserves and produce, as well as to take in a musical performance or to listen to a Parks Canada Interpretive Program.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]




There are 7 walk-in (1.7km) or kayak-in backcountry campsites available at Narvaez Bay, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Campsites are accessible from the parking lot at the end of Narvaez Bay Road, and camping fees of $4.90 per person apply. There is no fresh water available at Narvaez Bay, so please plan accordingly[8].

Stay safe[edit]

Get out[edit]

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