Newcastle & Jessie Islands

Newcastle & Jessie Islands near Nanaimo, BC

This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars
8 kms
Sea Kayaking, Canoeing
Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring
Nanaimo, BC
User Joe O
Looking to do a bit of sea kayaking in the Nanaimo British Columbia area? A relaxing paddle around beautiful Newcastle Island and nearby Jessie Island may be just the ticket for you then!

With a convenient put-in at the Brechin Boat Launch off Zorkin Road, adjacent to the BC Ferries operation in Departure Bay, it is a short paddle across Newcastle Island Passage to Newcastle Island Provincial Park. The crossing itself being only a couple hundred meters or so and you will then be along the inside shores of the island. From here you can go either clockwise or counter-clockwise.

My choice is a clockwise direction with a side trip over to Jessie Island just north of Newcastle Island by a few hundred meters. On the way, you'll pass a couple of nice beaches with easy landing for kayakers. Keep an eye out for float lanes coming in to land or heading off to launch. My advice is to paddle across to Newcastle Island and then follow along the shoreline or within a hundred meters or so.

Jessie Island itself is privately owned but it makes for a very nice paddle just the same. Just beware of the 2 guard dogs roaming the island. On the north side of the island, watch for a very pretty cave that, at high tide, you can actually paddle right through. There are attractive cliffs along much of the island. As you round the outside tip, there is a small navigation light on the rocks as well.

Heading back across to Newcastle Island, watching out for boat traffic, particularly the large ferries in operation by BC Ferries heading back and forth between Nanaimo's Departure Bay and the mainlands Horseshoe Bay, you will see more interesting rock formations along Newcastle's north end as well. Particularly interesting are “Old Woman” and “Old Man” rocks, located near Nares Point.

Continuing along the outside of Newcastle Island and more sections of scenic cliffs, you'll soon come to another beach at Kanaka Bay, a potentially nice spot for a break on the beach. More cliffs will follow as you head towards the south end of the island. Here, Newcastle Island and it's neighbour, Protection Island, are separated by a shallow section of water, Billy Bones Bay. It is passable at all but very low tides. On the Newcastle side, their is a campground located between the 2 islands and there is a ferry for foot traffic passengers from Nanaimo. The island itself also has a good network of hiking trails and viewpoints for those wishing to stretch their legs and go for a little hike.

In between Newcastle and Protection Islands you will also see a large number of recreational boats at anchor. Heading back along the inside of Newcastle Island there is plenty of impressive scenery all the way back to where you first came across from the boat launch. The opposite side of the channel, along Nanaimo's many wharves and marinas also makes for a nice paddle although you have to stay alert due to the very high amount of boat traffic, both recreational and commercial.

To paddle out from the Brechin Boat Launch, over to Newcastle Island and around the island, you are looking at roughly 8 kilometers or so depending how close to shore you decide to stay. To head over to Jessie Island, highly recommended, will only add another kilometer or so roughly speaking.

Once back to the boat launch, you are now practically a stone throw from two great pubs for those looking for refreshments. Miller's Pub and Muddy Waters Pub are both worth checking out and have great views of the waterfront.


Joe O'Blenis


The put in is at the end of Zorkin Road at the boat ramp. Watch for Zorkin Road next to the entrance to the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal for BC Ferries. Parking is available on location.


Please check the bottom of the Description (above left; click) for the author's written directions.

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By AndeAxPosted By: AndeAx  - Mon May 18 02:56:38 UTC 2009 Not Rated Question Hi,

thanks for the interesting suggestion! How high does the tide need to be to paddle through the cave at Jesse Island? And why do you suggest clockwise direction?


ANSWERS are in this forum:  Jesse Island cave

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