Accommodations, Travel Tips and History
Accommodations, Travel Tips and History
The Pender Islands are actually two islands--North Pender Island and South Pender Island--that began human habitation as one. The canal that was dredged between North Pender and South Pender Islands in 1905 facilitated navigation between Vancouver and Victoria, and forever made one island two. That canal was not bridged until 1955 when the current one-lane wooden span was built between North Pender and South Pender.
Reunited, the Pender Islands are uneasy bedfellows. North Pender Island boasts a semi-urban population of about 2500 people in large rural "suburbs" such as Magic Lake and Port Washington, while South Pender Island remains remarkably rural and quiet. While they share many characteristics, the two Pender Islands each have their own local government, the Local Trust Committee of the Islands Trust, the regional municipality set up by the provincial government to protect the Pender Islands and the rest of the Gulf Islands from over-development.
Settled in the 1880s by an indomitable sheep-shearer from the Shetland Islands with the unlikely name of Washington Grimmer, the Pender Islands have been a vacation spot for virtually a century. Long the destination of British "remittance men" and war brides, the Islands have also been the seat of smuggling, both during Prohibition and during the smuggling of Chinese slaves at the turn of the twentieth century.
Between the wars many mainland and Victoria families spent weeks at some of the Pender Islands' rustic resorts such as Roesland, now a national park, and The Maples, now a private farm. Agriculture was the root economic activity on the Penders. In the 1930s one of the top dairy farms in the province and one of the top beef cattle farms in the province were both located on North Pender Island. Washington Grimmer's son, Neptune Grimmer, named because he was born in a row-boat while his father tried in vain to get his mother to the mid-wife on nearby Mayne Island, had the blue-ribbon winning dairy herd at the Pacific National Exhibition in the early 1930s, while neighbour, Arthur Menzies, who farmed what is now the Ross-Smith Farm in central North Pender Island, had the blue-ribbon winning beef cattle herd the next year.
Today visitors to the Pender Islands stay at more luxurious resorts such as South Pender Island's Poet's Cove Resort or Currents at Otter Bay or at exclusive B&Bs from Maggie and Bill Rumford's Oceanside Inn at the north end of North Pender Island, Janet Laurencelle's Delia's Shangri-la, or Oaks Bluffs down in Trincomali on the southern tip of North Pender Island. If you're looking for a private cottage with luxury appointments, check out the offerings at Breakaway Vacations.
If you're looking for a private cottage with luxury appointments, check out Breakaway Vacation's selection of Pender Island Vacation Rentals.
Dozens of B&Bs for all budgets are available by searching for "Pender Island Accomodation" on the internet.
Transportation to Pender Island is easy and fast from Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle. Three flights a day come from Vancouver's South Terminal and are available through Seair or from Salt Spring Air. From Seattle, contact Kenmore Air for regularly scheduled flights to South Pender Island at Poet's Cove.
Most visitors arrive via BC Ferries, one of the most enjoyable ferry experiences you'll ever have. Efficient ferry crews marshal huge volumes of traffic between Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Pender Island. During the summer literally thousands of cars a day move through the Tsawassen and Schwarz Bay terminals that feed traffic between the BC Mainland and Vancouver Island.
Six ferries per day make the trip from Schwarz Bay near Victoria on Vancouver Island to Pender Island. The trip is about 40 minutes, and you have to arrive 40 minutes ahead of sailing to assure passage. From Vancouver two ferries a day stop at North Pender Island's Otter Bay, one in the morning and one in the evening. The trip takes about two and a half hours, but is well worth the effort, as you weave between the brilliant Gulf Islands, sometimes spotting orca, dolphins and eagles on your way to Pender.
Boaters plying the tranquil Gulf Islands waters will want to stop at both North Pender Island and South Pender Island. North Pender's marinas include Port Browning's delightful pub and camping resort at the head on Browning Harbour, Port Browning Marina and Resort www.portbrowning.com. There, boaters can buy daily moorage and walk to Driftwood Centre, the retail hub of the Pender Islands, for snacks and groceries, or make the 3-kilometer walk up Razor Point Road to Morning Bay Vineyard where a refreshingly cool glass of crisp white wine will always be on ice for your arrival. South Pender's marinas include Poet's Cove at Bedwell Harbour which has both Canadian Customs and fuel. There boaters can tie up and enjoy fabulous fish and chips in Syrens Lounge or five-star dining in Aurora.
While on the Pender Islands, visitors can take guided kayak tours of abandoned canneries, indulge themselves at one of the Islands three spas, put in a round of golf at the Pender Island Golf Club, visit used book stores and galleries, swim in one of the many beaches surrounding the Penders, taking hiking trails to breath-taking overlooks in the newly-created Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, or simply curl up with a good book and soak in the peace and quiet that makes the Pender Islands so special.
If you have ever wanted to learn how to SCUBA dive, play disc golf or take a winery tour, then check out Gulf Islands Ocean Adventures at Poet's Cove where you can do it all.
Morning Bay wines are available at many of the licensed food outlets and private wine stores on the Island. Please ask for them by name, and tell them we sent you.