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Your guide to Pender Island
All About Pender Island
Lying between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, Pender Island is, in fact, two islands — North Pender and South Pender — separated by a canal and joined by a bridge. Long known for its coastal views, forested hills, and pristine waters, Pender is the kind of place that allows you to leave the world behind for a while and enjoy the outdoors. Even though this is the second most populous of Canada's Gulf Islands, there isn't even a town per se, just a plaza housing essential services like a grocery store, emergency care, and pharmacy.
The coastline is riddled with coves and beaches for swimming, fishing, and kayaking opportunities for all skill levels. On land, you’ll find more than 60 hiking trails, including those in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, and the island's narrow, twisting roads provide plenty of scenic adventures for cyclists. Stop for local produce or fresh home baking at one of the farm stands you'll pass while you’re out and about. Every Saturday from May through October, you can shop at the farmers market at the Community Hall, where you'll find local produce and artisan foods as well as arts and crafts.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Pender Island?
Like all the Gulf Islands, Pender Island benefits from a balmy, sub-Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Summer begins in earnest in July, with clear skies and comfortable heat that last through September. The islands are located in a “rain shadow,” meaning they get far more sun than the mainland coast of British Columbia. And although the rains last from October through the winter, most days it’s a cold drizzle, so you can enjoy most island activities year-round so long as you remember a raincoat. (It's a bit too cold for swimming in the winter months.) If you happen to be on Pender Island to ring in the New Year, be sure to take in the Lantern Festival at Magic Lake. The extraordinary show involves paper lanterns, stilt walkers, giant puppets, and a lighted ballet on the lake.
What are the top things to do in Pender Island?
North Pender Parks
Pender Island has several beautiful parks to explore. In North Pender’s Roe Lake Park, you’ll find a 1.7-mile loop trail that takes you up to the lake through Douglas fir forest. Roesland, part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, is a lovely seaside park that makes a wonderful picnic spot. You may spot sea stars or harbor seals on the beach or eagles overhead.
South Pender Parks
South Pender boasts the spectacular Mount Norman Park, over 247 acres of wildlife-filled forest. A 30-minute hike on the main trail will lead you through towering fir trees to an unsurpassable view of the gulf. For swimming, you can try Beaumont Park, which offers a sandy beach as well as a selection of hiking trails.
While you won’t find a formal arts tour on Pender, it is easy to put together your own. The island is dotted with studios, galleries, and independent shops that feature local handiwork. Painting, pottery, photography, needlecrafts, and locally crafted jewelry are just some of the treasures.